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Compared to air travel, taking the train can sometimes seem like a quaint and outdated alternative. But there's nothing old-fashioned about the Shanghai Transrapid, the world's first commercial high-speed magnetic levitation train, which connects Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road Station.
Often called the Shanghai maglev train, the Shanghai Transrapid began running in late 2003. With a maximum cruising speed of 268 miles per hour (431 km/h), it is also the world's fastest commercial electric train. Unlike typical passenger trains with wheels that run on steel rails, the Shanghai Transrapid uses magnetic levitation (maglev) technology to keep its train cars attached to the track at high speeds. The maglev system involves an elevated track with magnets that enable a smooth and comfortable ride. The 18.6-mile journey, which brings passengers to the Shanghai Metro so that they can reach the city center, takes just seven minutes and 20 seconds.
Getting up to speed:
- It takes the Shanghai maglev train around four minutes to reach its maximum operating speed of 268 mph (431 km/h).
- The Shanghai Transrapid, which can carry up to 574 passengers, took around two and a half years to complete at a cost of $1.33 billion (USD).
- In addition to the Shanghai maglev, China is also home to the world’s second-fastest commercial passenger train, the CR400 Fuxing, which can reach speeds of up to 260 mph (418.4 km/h).