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Wenzhou mulls first hanging rail transit

By Mo Ting (Global Times)

09:44, March 12, 2012

Wenzhou, a manufacturing hub in East China's Zhejiang Province, is considering building China's first hanging railway in a bid to ease traffic congestion and promote low-carbon transportation.

The hanging railway is a suspended, automated monorail system, which can travel silently at speeds up to 50 kilometers per hour. The technology was initially developed in Germany in 1901.

Feng Xingyun, a member of the CPPCC, has submitted a proposal to the two sessions calling for the establishment of hanging railway in Chinese cities.

Several other cities including Tianjin and Shanghai are likely to follow suit after Wenzhou's pioneering move, according to the Legal Mirror.

Compared with other public transportation, the electrically powered hanging railway possesses advantages in terms of cost and its impact on the environment.

Given that one compartment can carry up to 75 passengers, a four-compartment hanging train can transport as many as 30,000 passengers in an hour.

Wang Mengshu, a railway expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who is also a deputy to the NPC, told the Global Times yesterday that the hanging railway should be taken into consideration by the urban traffic authority because of its safety, environmental-friendly characteristics, and low-cost construction.

According to Wang, the cost for one kilometer of subway line might reach 500 million yuan ($79 million) to 700 million yuan, while the construction of a hanging railway of the same length cost just 100 million to 150 million yuan.

"Not only would construction costs be cheaper, but the cost of operation is cheaper as well," Wang said.

"The subway is a permanent construction that can hardly be changed or demolished, but a hanging railway could easily be removed or reinstalled in other places," he added.

Some Web users voiced their opinions about possible safety concerns over the hanging railway, over potential accidents or the possibility of the trains falling off the lines.

Wang said that since the construction of hanging railways began worldwide, no accidents have occurred.

However, the passenger load might be a problem that constraints its development in a metropolis.

"One compartment of a hanging railway, which is as big as a bus, can only carry 50 to 70 passengers, which makes it more suitable for medium cities than huge cities," Wang said.

The official microblog of the Research Office of the Wenzhou government launched a poll yesterday to collect opinions about the hanging railway project in Wenzhou.

By press time, 75.3 percent of a total 251 respondents agreed with the project, while another 18.7 percent said they disagreed.

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