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China’s first ‘sky train’ suspension railway on track after tests successfully completed

Construction of China’s “sky train” – its first public suspension railway line – can go ahead after tests have been successfully completed on a test track, mainland media reports.

The lithium-battery-powered suspension railway line in Chengdu, southwestern Sichuan province, began trial operations in September, the news website Thepaper.cn reported.

The train, dubbed the “sky train” by media, will be able to travel at speeds of up to about 60km/h, which is similar to the speed of normal subway trains.

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It was innovative because it was powered by a lithium battery rather than the high-voltage electricity used by existing suspension railways in Germany and Japan, the project’s chief engineer was quoted as saying in the report.

The black and white train, which will hang from a rail eight metres above ground, was tested along a 1.4km route at Zhongtang’s test site, which is not open to the public

Each suspension railway carriage, which will have blue seating and handles, is capable of carrying up to 230 people.

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Journalists travelling on the suspension train’s test track found the ride was smooth, with only moderate shaking during the 1.4km journey, the report said.

Zhongtang Skytrain Group, a newly registered company that has developed the suspension railway, said Chengdu was planning two different routes for its suspension trains.

One route will travel to the city’s tourist attractions, with construction work starting next year.

The other line, stretching 20km, will run from Shuangliu Airport to the centre of Shuangliu county.

Zhai Wanming, the engineer, said the train was safe to use and occupied little space.

Its construction costs per kilometre were between one-eighth and one-fifth of the cost of building a normal subway railway.

Such a building project could also be completed within one year, Zhai said.

German engineers built a similar 13km suspension monorail in the beginning of last century. The line is still in operation running 12 metres above the Wupper River, a tributary of the River Rhine. Another two-line suspension railway – one stretching 3.2km and the other 12km – is located in Chiba prefecture in Japan. Both railways are powered by electricity.