In late December, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji were both passengers on a successful test ride of Shanghai's magnetic levitation train, which runs from the city's financial district to Pudong international airport. The train reached a speed of 430km/hour and took just eight minutes to complete the 30km journey. Commercial services are due to start by the end of this year.
German Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement said Zhu wanted work to start on an extension of the line south to Hangzhou and west to Nanjing while Zhu was still in office. If these extensions go ahead, it would mean a huge contract for the Transrapid consortium that built the Shanghai line, comprising Siemens, ThyssenKrupp and the German government.
The Chinese government is also looking into the feasibility of a 1,250km maglev line connecting Shanghai and Beijing, which would cost an estimated US$22bn.