Hong Kong is part of national plan for high-speed maglev train network, transport ministry says

Holly Chik
·3-min read

Hong Kong will be included in the central government’s plans for an intercity rail network using maglev trains, a senior transport ministry official said on Wednesday.

“We will introduce the high-speed maglev train to Hong Kong as soon as possible so that the city can ride on the express train of the mainland’s development,” vice-minister Wang Zhiqing said.

China opened its first home-grown maglev line in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, in 2016 but has never had a train capable of running fast enough to exploit its potential.

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But that could be about to change as the transport ministry has approved further tests of a new train it hopes will be able to reach a top speed of 600km/h (373mph).

“I really hope the test will be successful,” Wang said.

Wang Yang, the transport ministry’s chief engineer, said engineers were working on improvements to the new high-speed maglev train, after a prototype successfully completed a test run in June last year.

“The train is energy-saving, environmentally friendly and has strong climbing ability,” he said, adding that the authorities would release more details about the implementation of the train project in due course.

The superfast train is central to plans announced by Beijing in July for a smart transport network featuring up to nine maglev lines stretching more than 1,000km (620 miles).

The trains that run on a maglev system linking downtown Shanghai to its main airport have a stop speed of 431km/h. Both the trains and system, which has been in operation since 2003, were designed by German engineers.

China hopes its new maglev train will be able to reach speeds of up to 600km/h. Photo: AFP
China hopes its new maglev train will be able to reach speeds of up to 600km/h. Photo: AFP

Unlike conventional engines and rolling stock, maglev (magnetic levitation) trains hover above the track and are propelled forward by powerful electromagnets. The lack of friction makes them capable of travelling at much higher speeds than conventional trains.

The transport ministry’s comments came after authorities in Guangdong province in February released a 15-year development plan that set aside land for two maglev railways to connect Shanghai with Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and Beijing with Hong Kong and Macau.

While Wang Zhiqing did not mention that plan, China News Weekly, which is published by the official China News Service, quoted a Guangdong government official as saying this month that the proposal was still in its early stages.

“Reserving land for the projects does not indicate whether or when construction will start,” the person said.

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Wang Zhiqing and Wang Yang were speaking at a press conference to outline details of a national transport network included in China’s new five-year-plan, which was endorsed by the National People’s Congress earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference economic affairs committee deputy director Yang Weimin will attend a seminar hosted by Hong Kong’s former chief executive Leung Chun-ying on the five-year-plan. The event will be live-streamed by the South China Morning Post.

Developing superfast trains capable of slashing journey times on major routes was one of the key goals set by the central government in 2019.

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