I was recently in Shanghai attending a conference, and again I was impressed about the sheer scale of construction and change that is evident in any of the places I’ve been in China. I would not pretend do be an expert about China having only been to Beijing a few times, within about a 200 KM radius from Hong Kong in the Guangdong area, plus this most recent visit to Shanghai, but it seems that no matter where you look you see a tangle of cranes nestled amidst the high rise apartments and office towers for as far as the eye can see. As is normal also sadly, there is ever present the smog which tends to blur the view, but it is still impressive none the less. I took this photo to the left from my hotel room window at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Shanghai looking north. I was using a new smart phone that I was testing from Dopod which we were thinking of deploying. Frankly if you want to take photos, either get yourself a camera or another brand of phone as while this particular device sports a 1.3 megapixel lens, the picture quality and resolution are pretty poor when compared to other similar devices available.
The real high point of the visit for me was the Maglev train which runs between the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and the south east part of the city. This is a real technology showcase and well worth seeing. While there are other maglev test tracks in service around the world, the one in China is the only one in commercial service – it is a short ride of 30 KM each way, but can hit speeds of 400+ KM per hour making it a very fast short ride of about 7 minutes !! During the evening it runs a bit slower and during my trip the top speed displayed in the passenger car was about 301 KM per hour – still nothing to sneeze at ! The train itself is very sleek, and I was surprised to find myself pretty much alone on it which is a rarity is a place as populous as this. The tracks are two concrete pads about 10 inches wide and one thing I noticed was that the seams between each section of track were not perfectly aligned, which meant the ride itself was not as smooth as I’d expected – not as smooth for example as the French TGV (which can also do about 300 KM per hour).
It will be interesting to see whether the current maglev is expended beyond it current usage – its beautiful, but its total lack of compatibility with any existing rail systems, plus the fact that conventional high speed rail can very nearly match the speed of the maglev will likely make it a tough sell.