The medium-low speed S1 Line will make China only the second country, after Japan, to have such a line, said Chang, who led the research team that developed the magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology.
As one of eight rail transit lines under construction in Beijing designed to form an urban transit network and help ease traffic gridlock, the S1 Line will extend from the western Mentougou district to Pingguoyuan subway station, the western terminal station of Line 1.
Construction is expected to cost about 6 billion yuan (US$1 billion) and be completed in 2013, according to earlier reports.
"The maglev line will be a safe, low-noise and economical transport choice for people," Chang said, explaining that, at 65 decibels - about the level of normal conversation - it will not affect nearby residents and could save the huge expense of large-scale relocations.
"Compared with road vehicles, the spending on repairing maglev trains will also be reduced as wear and tear by friction can be avoided," he said.
Chang said the maglev line will consume about 15 percent more power than a subway or light rail service, although it produces less noise and needs less maintenance.
A newly developed maglev train is seen at a factory of the Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd. of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation in Zhuzhou, Central China's Hunan province, Jan 20, 2012. The three-carriage train is designed to run at a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and carry 600 passengers. It is more environmental-friendly than conventional trains. [Photo/Xinhua]
The three-carriage train is designed to run at a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and carry 600 passengers, said Xu Zongxiang, general manager of Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd. of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation (CSR).
"It's ideal for mass transportation, as it is quiet and environmental-friendly. Its manufacturing cost is about 75 percent of a conventional light-rail train," said Xu.
The maglev train has a minimum turning radius of 50 meters and can easily run in residential communities or on hilly slopes. "It's an ideal public transport option for Chinese cities and major tourist destinations," said Xu.
Manufacturing low to medium speed maglev train carriages will cost about 8 million yuan each (about US$1.3 million), which is not substantially more expensive than the 6 million yuan cost of manufacturing ordinary standard B subway carriages.
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