Chinese officials are hoping to make getting around the country a bit easier for locals and tourists by opening the country’s first suspended railway. And to kick up a notch, the train cars, which hang down from a track instead of running on top of it, will resemble a panda bear. Because…why not?
While there is no set date for the train to be up and running, the train has already had a successful 1,000-foot-long test run in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, on September 30. The next test is set for three quarters of a mile and will include more turns, climbs, operational, and charging testing. “The test runs will continue for tens of thousands of kilometers to check performance capabilities before official operation,” Zhai Wanming, chief designer of the project from Southwest Jiaotong University, told the state-controlled Xinhua News.
Powered by a lithium battery, the black-and-white railway, which hangs from a fixed track, reaches speeds of nearly 40 mph and can hold up to 120 passengers at a time. The reasoning for an above-ground system instead of an underground one was twofold: cost and the environment. Zhai suggested the suspension railway is one-fifth to one-eighth of the cost of underground rail per kilometer, and noted that using lithium batteries was more eco-friendly.
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