We decided to explore the city’s transit network today, and to meet Eric’s plane at the airport in the process. This meant hopping on the Metro, changing lines, crossing under the river over to Pudong, then transferring to the Mag Lev train that rockets out to the Pudong International Airport.
Patrick had warned us that the signage in the subway system might be a challenge because the line colors are not consistent, but we followed the line numbers up escalators, down stairs, and around corners, and we successfully negotiated through the People’s Square station from Line 1 to Line 2. Line 2 took us seven stops east, just beond the Zhenliang Hi-Tech Park South to Longyiang Rd. South where we exited, crossed a small lane, then went up to the Maglev station to catch the train to the airport.
And by “Maglev” they mean “Magnetic Levitation” which means the trains do not roll on wheels, rather they float above magnetized tracks, and this allows them to reach very high speeds with little resistance. And high speeds we did reach — over 430 kph (almost 300 mph) — allowing us to reach the airport 20 miles away in just about five minutes. The speed was apparent but not palpable until a maglev train passed us going the opposite direction, which almost felt like a small explosion because suddenly the window was filled with a dark blur, our train jerked toward the blur, there was a loud “whomp”, and then it was gone and we continued on our way.
One thought on “Mag Lev”
Great. Now even the Chinese are ahead of us on transportation infrastructure? I heard about a proposed mag-lev project for the vital LA-Las Vegas corridor but it’s competing with a high-speed rail proposal (don’t know if that means American “high-speed” like Acela, which tops out around 120 mph or Euro/Japanese which can exceed 300 mph). The smart money says that neither will happen. Meanwhile we’re effectively stuck with 1950s transportation technology (cars, trucks, planes, sloooow trains) and even that infrastructure is often subpar. Our airports are old and ugly and our airlines are expensive and plagued by delays. On my recent cross-country drive I saw some highways that made EASTERN Europe look good (hello, PA Turnpike). What’s gone wrong? Mostly gas that’s been too cheap too long & lack of political will to spend the needed money for upkeep and improvement. The solution? Well, it’s going to be expensive b/c as anyone with a house knows, if you just put off repairs and remodeling constantly, eventually you wake up and yer house is a dump that not worth anything without a huge investment. Sadly, that’s the state of our transportation infrastructure; as if we already didn’t have enough problems.