SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- China began construction Thursday of the world's first commercial high-speed train that rides on a cushion of magnetism instead of wheels.
The magnetic levitation or "maglev" line from the Shanghai financial district to one of the city's two airports is to open in 2003. The German-designed train is meant to carry 600 passengers at 250 mph.
German firms that have spent decades and billions of dollars developing maglev hope to use the Shanghai train as a model to show prospective buyers.
The German firms are supplying the trains and stations, while Chinese companies are building the magnetic track. Neither side has disclosed a price, though the Germans say their portion should cost less than $950 million.
Maglev uses powerful magnets to hold a train a fraction of an inch from the track and drive it with little noise or vibration.
Critics say maglev is too expensive and will waste energy.
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