(Yicai Global) March 20 -- Advantages such as low cost and environmental friendliness have ushered in a low-speed maglev train building boom in China.
Experts believe that China's industrial chain of low-speed maglev trains is now sufficiently mature that export of low-speed maglev trains is an inevitable trend.
Built by the No. 4 Company of China Railway Hi-Tech Industry Corporation Ltd. [SH: 600528], Beijing's first low-speed maglev train recently went offline for debugging for the first time and will soon be debugged on the test line. Since China's first low-speed maglev train -- the Changsha Maglev Express -- started trial operation in May 2016, maglev trains have drawn wide attention for their high security, low noise and low cost. More than 10 large and medium Chinese cities -- including Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Guangzhou -- are now planning maglev train projects.
Some wonder what the advantages are of low-speed maglev trains which have a speed of only about 100 kilometers per hour, just catching up with the old 'green trains' (so called because of their color) now being decommissioned.
Qian Qingquan, member of China Engineering Academy and professor at Southwest Jiaotong University wrote that the implementation of China's urbanization strategy requires the development of multiple urban rail transit systems, and low-speed maglev rail transit is a solution of great potential for urban rail transit. It provides a greener and more environmentally-friendly traffic means of ameliorating the problems of growing megacities.
Qian believes that the cost in investment, construction period, operation and maintenance of low-speed maglev rail transit is a mere one-third that of a subway, and comes with such advantages as greater environmental friendliness, flexible operation and comfort. At present, as the technology has become mature, low-speed maglev rail is a good option for the development of mass transit.
The low-speed maglev is the quietest form of rail transit. With outside noise of 65 decibels ten meters away, it is equivalent to the traffic noise at an ordinary intersection, while no dust is produced in the absence of wheel-rail wear.
Compared to light rail, low-speed maglev transit also has comparative advantages such as a strong climbing ability and small turning radius, Sun Zhang, professor at the Institute of Rail Transit of Tongji University, said in an interview with Yicai Global. Also, in contrast to traditional wheel-rail transit, the structure of a maglev forecloses the possibility of it derailing or overturning in operation.
While focusing on developing domestic maglev express technology, China is also eyeing overseas markets. A manager with the Changsha Maglev Express said that countries like Singapore, Germany, and Brazil have all sent delegations to visit China. Chinese companies hope to expand markets in Asian cities plagued by traffic congestion with the low cost and low noise of low-speed maglev rail as its selling points. China also plans to export high-speed maglev rail technology in future.
Sun believes that China boasts complete independent intellectual property rights to and an industrial chain for low-speed maglev rail transit, so going global is an inevitable trend for it.