CHINESE Premier Zhu Rongji levitated on July 2 at up to 400 km/h on the Transrapid maglev guideway in Germany’s Emsland. He was clearly impressed by his experience, although he confessed to suffering from ’a little dizziness’ after the trip, on which he was accompanied by German Transport Minister Reinhard Klimmt. Two days earlier Chinese officials had signed an agreement in Berlin for a feasibility study to be carried out for construction of a 42 km maglev link between Shanghai and its new international airport in Pudong. Before leaving China, Zhu had offered Shanghai as a testing ground for a commercial application of the German maglev technology, and the city’s mayor was among the party visiting Germany.

We have been waiting for rather a long time to see if anyone will ever build a commercial maglev route, so it will be interesting to see if the first Transrapid fares are paid in China or Germany. Transport Minister of Nordrhein-Westfalen Ernst Schwanhold is campaigning to have a bantam version of Transrapid known as Metrorapid built between Dortmund and Düsseldorf in time for the World Cup football championship in 2006. Let’s hope the riders don’t get dizzy.