Germany's richest state agreed on Sept. 25 to build the country's first commercial high-speed magnetic levitation train line, but officials warned the price tag could be heftier than first thought. Authorities said they had finalized 1.85 billion euros (US$2.6 billion) in financing for the next-generation train line, which is to connect the state capital Munich with its airport, 37 kilometers (23 miles) away.
Starting in 2014, travelers will see the 40-minute trip cut to just 10 by the driverless Transrapid, or Maglev train, which is able to run at 450 kilometers (280 miles) per hour.
The German government will pay 925 million euros, while Bavaria will contribute 490 million, the German state rail company will provide 235 million, the Munich airport will add 100 million and, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp will each provide 50 million with the EU contributing 50 million. But German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck warned that the advertised price was based on an outdated, five-year-old calculation. "The project will be much more expensive. There is no way that the cost will stay at 1.85 billion euros," he said.
The Maglev, designed and built by engineering groups Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, is meant to represent German prowess in rail technology. But a test train collided in September 2006 at 170 kilometers an hour with a parked maintenance vehicle, killing 23 people. Plans to build a working version of the Transrapid have been on hold since the crash.
The only operating line is in China where the Maglev whisks travelers between Shanghai's financial district and the city's Pudong airport along a 30-kilometer track.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007