Shanghai, China

After my trip to Japan, my plane landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and this finally gave me a chance to try the only commercial high speed Maglev train in the world. Unlike a normal train, they don’t allow anyone to get on the platform before it arrives. I’m not sure exactly why. I did get to hear it arrive, however. When it was slowing down there was a strange pulsing sound in the building. After I boarded my seat and the doors closed, I think I felt a subtle shift indicating the levitation activated. The train doesn’t levitate very high, maybe only 1 or 2 mm. The train eventually made it to the top speed of 268 mph (431 km/h) after about three minutes. It didn’t stay at the top speed for very long because it had to begin slowing down again. It takes 7 minutes and 20 seconds to go on the 19 mile track.

At the terminal of the train there is a museum about the Maglev train. One chart in the exhibit explained that Maglev gets more efficient over a normal wheeled train as speed increases.

I had an opportunity to try a lot of new subway lines in Shanghai. I was particularly impressed with Century Avenue Station. Four subway lines come together here and to transfer to any other line requires just a minimal amount of walking. Three lines are run parallel and one line runs perpendicular. The Shanghai Metro is now considered the longest metro system in the world with 264 miles of track. Very impressive when you consider the first line opened in 1995. This surpasses NYC’s 209 miles, opened in 1904, and London’s 250 miles, opened in 1863.

Something else I’ve never seen before was a bus labeled “Supercapacitor Bus.” I found out this is also called a Capa Vehicle which is a electric vehicle without batteries. It will only go a few miles after the capacitor is charged, but it only takes a minute or two to charge again.

After a couple days in Shanghai, I was excited to use the new Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Rail which opened last year. This is the longest line of high speed rail in the world and the first and second longest bridges in the world. For $87, I got a ticket that took me from Shanghai to Beijing with only one stop arriving 4 hours and 48 minutes later with a total of 811 miles.