Germany faces tough competition from China for its magnetic levitation train Transrapid. Could it force the Transrapid consortium onto the holding track on the sought-after Chinese market?
The Transrapid began floating along the tracks in Shanghai in 2003
China is developing a model to compete with the German high-speed magnetic levitation train Transrapid. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, Chinese researchers in Shanghai already want to test their own version in July.
The Chinese model with the name Zhui Feng (Hunt the Wind) would reach speeds of 500 kilometers an hour (310 mph) and therefore be as fast as the German Transrapid.
Chief engineer Zheng from the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Cooperation (CAC), which is developing the train, said CAC was not simply copying Transrapid.
"The one we're building is completely different from the German one," said Zheng, who is responsible for design and technology. "Basically, we don't know that much about the German technology."
He said CAC didn't use any German materials or plans.
German Transrapid has more advantages
The only Transrapid connection in the world links Shanghai and its airport. China is planning an extension of this connection to the city of Hangzhou, 180 kilometers away.
Transrapid spokesman Peter Wiegelmann said the German train had a significant advantage compared to the Chinese competition. It has been in commercial use for three years and proven its dependability. It has transported six million passengers already.
The German Transrapid consortium is hoping for an order from Britain
"That's why we expect opportunities with the Transrapid technology," said Wiegelmann. The consortium, made up of Thyssen, Siemens und Adtranz, was "optimistic" that it would win the contract for the new route in Shanghai.
"The most important thing now is Munich though" Wiegelmann said. The Transrapid consortium is pushing for speedy construction of the long-awaited airport connection in Munich. The project approval procedure is currently in process.
The Transrapid consortium also hopes for orders from the United States, Britain and the Middle East.