ON JULY 16 Nexans announced an order from ThyssenKrupp Transrapid GmbH for supply and installation of the long stator motor winding for the 30 km guideway of the world’s first commercial maglev project in Shanghai, and the first cables arrived in the Chinese city from Germany last month.

Although the project will not be complete until 2003, other Chinese cities are keeping a keen eye on progress. One scheme would see a maglev route built between Hong Kong and Shenzhen; its backers suggest that trip time would be just 15min. Transrapid International’s indefatigable promoters have meanwhile been busy in Australia, where they are bidding to build a 280 km/h line between Melbourne and the city’s airport.

Maglev is lifting off in the USA too. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 6 for a 975m route across the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Promoter is American Maglev Technology Inc, which has promised to remove all traces of the elevated infrastructure should the experimental line prove a boondoggle.

With all this activity it should come as no surprise at all to learn of the revival of interest on Transrapid’s home ground. Last month German Railway, Lufthansa, the Land of Bavaria and the operator of München airport agreed to set up a ’seed company’ to promote a maglev line from the city centre to the airport. DB Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn now seems to accept that this link, and one known as Metrorapid in Nordrhein-Westfalen, could be profitable. But more studies are needed.

And just for the record, Russia’s first monorail is to be built in the northeast suburbs of Moscow. It will run on an orbital alignment for 7 km between the metro stations at Babushkinskaya on Line 5 and Timiryazevskaya on Line 8. Work will start this year for completion in 2003 using initial funding of 500m roubles voted by the city parliament. Mayor Yu Luzhkov said last month that the line will carry 4000 passengers/h and that the costs would be repaid within five years. A 560m test track has been built at the Moscow Teplotechniki Institute, and our correspondent reports that two vehicles are on trial.