When we left Shanghai for the airport week before last, we decided to do so on the world’s fastest train, The Shanghai MagLev, a 19 mile magnetic levitation line completed in 2004 for a modest investment of $1.3 billion.

It is the world’s only such line. We actually took the photo of the speed meter as the train was slowing down. It hit 431 Km/h or 218 Mph on our 7 minute run to the airport. The acceleration and ride is totally smooth and quiet, and the cabins are wide and comfortable. If you sit on the side nearest the opposing track, as we’d been advised to do, you hear a sharp “crack” as the Mag Lev running the other way passes, at a combined speed of more than 400 Mph.

The Mag Lev is a thrill, and the only land vehicle faster is the Bugatti Veyron sports car. The Shanghai MagLev is essentially a demonstration line, the Shanghai to Beijing line currently beginning development will be a conventional high speed railroad. I doubt that we’ll see a Mag Lev in America in our lifetimes, because of the extreme costs, but it is a wonder.

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