Transrapid Maglev Shanghai

The construction of the line began in March, 2001, and public service commenced already on January 1, 2004.

The Transrapid maglev system in Shanghai, China, represents a major leap forward in transportation technology. Since its inauguration in 2004, the Shanghai Maglev Train has been a symbol of high-speed travel, connecting Shanghai Pudong International Airport with the city's Pudong district. This link demonstrates the impressive capabilities of maglev technology and offers a glimpse into the future of transportation.

Covering a distance of approximately 30.5 kilometers, the Shanghai Maglev holds the title of the world's fastest commercial train service, reaching a top speed of 431 km/h (267 mph). This speed allows it to complete the airport-to-city transfer in only about 8 minutes, significantly reducing travel time compared to traditional ground transportation methods.

The technology behind the Shanghai Maglev, developed by Transrapid International - a consortium including German industrial giants Siemens and ThyssenKrupp - uses powerful electromagnets for levitation and propulsion. This mechanism allows the train to hover about 1 centimeter above its guideway, eliminating friction and facilitating the high speeds and smooth rides that have become the hallmark of maglev technology.

It's important to note that the operating costs of the Shanghai Maglev are actually much lower than those of conventional high-speed trains. The absence of physical contact between the train and the track significantly reduces wear and tear, resulting in lower maintenance requirements. In addition, the Maglev's propulsion system is more energy efficient at high speeds, further contributing to its cost-effectiveness in long-term operation.

Despite these advantages, the development and construction of the Shanghai Maglev has been costly, initially raising concerns about the economic viability of maglev systems. However, the operational efficiencies of maglev technology, including its reduced maintenance requirements and energy savings, provide a compelling case for its wider adoption, particularly when life-cycle costs and environmental benefits are considered.

The Shanghai Maglev is not the only example of maglev technology in commercial operation. It will soon be followed (2029) by the opening of the Tokyo-Nagoya Maglev line in Japan. However, as with all high-speed ground transportation systems, significant initial investment is required.

As it stands, the Shanghai Maglev is not only a technological marvel, but also an interesting study in the economics of futuristic transportation systems. It illustrates the necessary balance between up-front investment and long-term operational savings, providing valuable lessons for the future deployment of maglev technology both in China and globally.



The Shanghai Maglev Project is owned, operated and maintained by SMTDC, the Chinese company established to implement the project. The maglev line currently operates at 15-minute intervals, 15 hours/day, 7 days/week, with maintenance/repairs scheduled during night hours. Two 5-section cars are in service to handle the 108 trips/day, with a third car as a reserve.

The maglev trains typically reach 220 mph (350 km/h) in 2 minutes, with a maximum speed of 268 mph (431 km/h) in normal service. During a test run on November 12, 2003, a maglev train reached a top speed of 501 km/h.

The train runs from Longyang Road Station on Shanghai Subway Line 2 to Pudong International Airport, and the total track length is about 30 kilometers, with an additional separate track leading to a maintenance facility. The train takes 7 minutes and 20 seconds to complete the trip and has a maximum operating speed of 431 kilometers per hour.

Vehicle and guideway construction

In the city of Kassel, Germany, the 18 vehicle sections for Shanghai were built, as well as some 124,000 of the stator packages that are attached to the guideway. Inside the stator packets are the disks for which EBG Gesellschaft für Elektromagnetische Werkstoffe mbH, Bochum (another ThyssenKrupp Group company) supplied the electrical sheet metal. ThyssenKrupp Transrapid supplied the motor windings to be inserted into the stator packets (including installation equipment) as well as eight guideway switches.

Most of the engineering work for these components was done by ThyssenKrupp Transrapid. The flexible steel girders for the switches were manufactured and fitted by Krupp Stahlbau Hannover. The switch control units and motor windings were outsourced.

All subsystems were assembled and installed in Shanghai by the Chinese customer's personnel under the supervision of the Transrapid Systems Consortium. In sharp contrast, the guideway (consisting of girders, substructures and foundations) was entirely in the hands of the Chinese, with some consulting support from the German guideway consortium.


Maglev Vehicle Data 

The Trains in Shanghai are of the Transrapid SMT type which is based on the German TR 08.

  • Number of vehicles/trains: 3
  • Sections: 6 each train
  • Length: 153.6 m
  • Width: 3.7 m
  • Height: 4.2 m
  • Maximum operating speed: 505 km/h

Total Passenger capacity: 574

  • End section (ES) 1st class: 56
  • Middle section (MS) 2nd class: 110
  • End section (ES) 2nd class:  78


On August 11, 2006, a Maglev train compartment caught fire at 2:40 p.m. after leaving Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station. There were no injuries or fatalities aboard. Investigation reports into the cause of the fire seem to indicate that electrical problems occurred.


External links SMT - Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co., Ltd.