14 December, 2013

Shanghai Sagas - Of Maglevs and High Speed Trains

My journey in the fastest train in the world. Find the full English Transcript below.


Now I’m going towards the Maglev train. This is supposed to be the fastest train in the world. This is the platform. I got off at Longyang Metro station. The Magev station is right next to the Longyang metro station. This man is smiling, he’s the guard here. Good man. And… the train will come here. Right downstairs there’s a McCafé. This McCafé is built exactly like McDonalds. It is a complete McDonalds copy. You just get Chinese food instead of burgers. They have the same McDonalds Symbol, the same way of writing “Mc” and have written Café instead of Donald. There aren’t too many people here, not too many. The ticket is slightly expensive as compared to normal metro. In a normal metro I’d have gone in 4¥. This I’m travelling in 40¥. The original price is 50¥ but I have Shanghai’s transportation card so I get a discount on that. I don’t know how the VIP section is. It is for 100¥. I haven’t taken that one.


And they say its speed is 431 kmph. This leaves every 15-20 mins. 40… 431 kmph is its peak speed between 1500 and 1545 hrs, so that’s when I’ve come. Rest of the times it must go to 400 which is still quite fast. They say that it reaches 5021 in experimental conditions. But people don’t see it going that fast in regular use. This is the ordinary section. There must be a VIP one somewhere. Let’s see. The platform is very small and clean.

Chinese announcement in background.

They say that there are a lot of amenities inside the train. Even I don’t know exactly what’s there, even I have just heard of it. Will find out in a bit.


Announcement in English in the background.

I don’t have a ticket because I have entered via the Shanghai metro card. I don’t know what’ll happen. But, let’s see. OK, this is the VOP class. 1,2 are the VIP class and 3 to 6 are the economy classes. Now how do I know which is 1,2? And which side will the train come from? They have a right side rule right? So which side would the train be coming from? The line is only till there. The train will come from the back means it will come from the right means it will come from here. And will go back from here! No. Ok these people have 2 tracks. They don’t join. The train must move on these on both sides. They might not have the right-left rule for the Maglev. Because they haven’t made a space to change tracks. The tracks go till there and stop in mid-air. So if any day the Maglev has failed breaks, it’ll fly off and crash into the building.


There are no walls to stop it. These people trust their technology. The tracks can be seen going way far off.

So what was I saying? This peaks at 431 but they don’t always take it at 431. They take it till… 400 maybe. In the busy hours wiz morning 9 to 9:45 and evening 15 to 15:45 they peak. They take it to a full 431. So what’s the time now. It’s 15:30. So it should happen. The normal metro takes some 16 mins2. It’s said that this takes 7 mins. So the normal metro itself is quite fast.


And this is more than double the speed3. This is the roof of the station. I’d thought that this whole thing would be underground. This is right over the head. Ok here is the 1 and 2. That is VIP. This is gate number 4. It’s quite empty in the back, so I can go and sit there. Basically I want a window seat where I can shoot everything. Keshia showed me the video yesterday. I saw the trees going back at high speed. Got to see that. Mainly that. Even the metro stations here are pretty clean, just it has crowds and dustbins there. This is a bit excessively clean.


Maybe that’s the train coming. Something surely is coming. Can’t see it from here. Will see now. Yes that is the train. See the train is coming. It’ll come here now. Oh this is 2, the VIP section.

Train arrives

This is full on the inside. Has chairs. So should I enter the VIP section? Let’s see, how does it look from the outside. Looks normal. No this has more space. Might be checking the ticket inside. Let’s be safe. No problems to be taken in China.


But coming in without a ticket is also difficult. Let’s see what happens. Even I don’t know. How would I know! People are gathering up. It’s a small train. No space to stand. Maybe it’ll open from here.

People are staring at me, giving a what-madness-is-he-doing-with-the-camera look.


Open up!

Our crowd is standing like that crowd. Everyone’s still sitting inside. One minute! If I can go like this, then I can also come back in this. Oh! the TT might be checking the tickets inside. That’s why they aren’t opening the gates.


He might be taking the money inside because when I entered he didn’t take the money. This might be happening. Maybe the gate’s opening from there. Opened here too. These people open in sync. Everyone will open together. And here we enter. Let’s sit… let’s sit a bit more, sorry. Let’s sit a bit more inside. Let’s sit here. There’s leg space too. It’s loading. People are coming. Maybe this man got irritated from me and went away.


I’m going to keep blabbering here.

Hello. I’ll be speaking in Hindi a bit. Okay. This guy infront of me is also here to shoot, has a camera in his neck. But this is a photo camera. He might not be taking a video. People are walking outside. It looks like this girl knows about the Maglev. This one on the left. Perhaps she said that the view isn’t good on that side, so this man came here.

People are still coming in. He’s calling people on the escalator.


This looks a VIP type. Ok. If I’d gone to the VIP section they’d have taken 100¥ from the card. Now they’ll take 50. A lot of people seem to be first timers. Even they don’t know anything. They seem to be as confused as me. I think it’s done. The gates are closed.

Others talk.

They have a meter here which shows the speed at the moment. So people sit and wait for 431.


And they have to click a picture at exactly 431. I will surely get it because I’m taking a video. Should’ve had 2 cameras. One for the speedometer another for this. I’ll watch the speedometer. You watch the view outside. It has started moving. And it’s off. 3,4, this is a good acceleration, has already reached 10. 20. 45. 70.


This is the opposite track. Ya this is the opposite track. The train on the side should be seen along the way. 110.

150. 180. Now it’s not accelerating at the same rate. But I can feel it accelerate. When it turns, I feel it.


The view on that side is good. There’s some lighting problem. That side has a sunset-ish type of a sky. The color of the sky won’t come well on this. You see the speed. It has reached 300. The reflection you see on the glass is the camera. And behind it is me. Hi. It’s oscillating between 305 and 306 right now.


380. Now it feels like something’s happening. This is quite smooth but not completely smooth. More than this… nah you can’t find anything smoother than this. 400. This has crossed 400. 420. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 2… 25. 29. 30. 31!


31. It won’t go beyond 31.

Man infront of me: I got it. It’s not easy (laughs)

Even I got it. I got it in the video. 31 is its limit. The man infront of me is happy. Was taking a picture at 31. Now it has started to slow down. It went to 25.


There was a shock. Oh! The shock which happened was the other train going from the side. Hardly half… it didn’t take even 1 sec for the 2 trains to cross.

People chatting in the background.

This is German technology.


This has been built by Germans but the Germans didn’t have enough money to make it in their own country. So they’ve made it here. The technology is German, but Germany doesn’t have this technology. That thing which went by was a Maglev train. I think we’ve reached. How long did the full journey take? I didn’t notice. Must’ve taken some 7-8 mins.

How long did it take? They entire journey.
7 mins.
Well to the airport 7 mins 21 secs4.
7 mins 21 secs.
It is slowing down. Why, are we there already?
Oh ya.
That’s the airport.
We’re there already.
That’s terminal one and that’s terminal 2.
Next time we’ll go that way. Won’t carry too much luggage.
That’s what I said last time.
Continue talking.


You’re going back in this train?
Yeah. I talked to the staff here. We don’t need to get out. But usually if you have a return ticket you have to go out. Check out. And then check in again. I discussed with them so…
How… I came in with my metro card, so how are they gonna charge me?
Oh. You have your local transportation card. 40¥.
Yes. If I go back it’ll be 80¥.
Ya. You have to go out and check in again.

No TT is coming here. But people have stood up and are leaving.

You go out?
What if I keep sitting here?
No you cannot. I discussed with them. Both sides.


This good girl helped a lot. Was telling things. People keep their stiff here and there’s also an overhead cabin. No one’s checking anything here. So I can keep sitting inside. Means I can keep sitting here, go around the entire day, and I can exit at the other station for 40¥. Whichever one I started from, I can exit at the next one. Won’t make a difference. Unless there is a checking. I don’t know whether they do it or not. It doesn’t look like there’s any checking. I didn’t have one. I came out. Maybe it’ll happen after this video. A lot of people exited. A lot of people fitted inside the small train.


We have reached Pudong international airport. And am now taking the escalator and exiting. I’ll turn off the video when I exit. Let’s see. This was the Maglev. Was good.

Here’s the ticket counter. Need to use my card here. When I entered I had 59¥ on the card. Now it should become 19 according to the math. Let’s see.


This is it. It’s 19. So, I exited.

So this was the Maglev. Now I need to go back to Lobyang5. That’ll be quite far. I’d eaten before leaving. So where’s the metro line? Lets find it, I’ll leave in a while. This is enough for today. OK? The video’s only 21 mins? No problem. Bye!

Notes and Errors:

1.      [01:25] I later checked it was 501 kmph.

2.      [03:53] I checked later while going back. It took 51 mins.

3.      [4:04] The normal metro operates at 80 kmph, but the average speed is less because of the halts at the stations.

4.      [17:32] I checked later it was an exact 7 mins 21 secs. Between [11:27] and [18:48] on this video.

5.      [21:16] Longyang