The Chinese aerospace company developing "floating" trains traveling at supersonic speed brushed off safety and cost concerns after the project sparked controversy in Chinese cyberspace.
Mao Kai, the chief technology officer of the super-speed train project from the China Aerospace Science and Industry Cooperation (CASIC), said the trains will accelerate gradually before reaching full speed, with the acceleration rate slower than that of a plane, the Changjiang Daily reported on Thursday.
Mao said that safety will be his team's top priority and that the harm caused by the high speed would be negligible. He noted that the project will not be implemented if passenger safety could not be guaranteed.
As for the cost, Mao said they will consider private investment for the construction. He said the development will only begin after a preliminary evaluation of the cost of construction and operation, as well as the ticket prices.
The project's launch, which was made at the Third China Commercial Aerospace Forum in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province on Wednesday, has raised questions about passenger safety and costs.
Previous media reports said the super-speed "floating" trains will have the ability to "fly above the rails" with magnetic levitation technology and travel through vacuum pipelines free of friction. It may be able to reach a maximum speed of 4,000 kilometers per hour, over four times faster than modern commercial jets. At this speed, the roughly 1,000-kilometer journey from Beijing to Shanghai, which now takes 4.5 hours via China's high-speed rail, could be shortened to around 15 minutes.
Mao said China has unique advantages in supersonic technology and high temperature superconductor magnetic levitation technology. He said the super-speed trains will use electromagnetic propulsion technology.
The project will be carried out gradually, with the first step being the development of trains with a maximum speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour, then 2,000 kilometers per hour, before finally reaching 4,000 kilometers per hour, thepaper.cn reported, citing the CASIC.
The super-speed trains are said to have many advantages, including immunity to bad weather, zero fossil fuel consumption and seamless linkage to urban metro networks, CASIC said.