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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Germany to build maglev railway
Maglev train in Shanghai
Shanghai's maglev train started commercial service in 2003
Germany has come up with the funds to launch its first magnetic levitation - or maglev - rail service.

The state of Bavaria is to build the high-speed railway line from Munich city centre to its airport, making it Europe's first commercial track.

Maglev trains use electric-powered magnets that enable them to float above their tracks, allowing for much faster speeds than traditional rail services.

The 1.85bn-euro ($2.6bn; 1.3bn) project had faced financing problems.

However, the Bavarian state government said it had signed an agreement with rail operator Deutsche Bahn and industrial consortium Transrapid that includes the developers of the train - Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.

Technological symbol

Maglev train travelling between Shanghai's airport and the city centre
Munich is following in Shanghai's foosteps

The only regular maglev service at present is in China, where the floating train whisks travellers between Shanghai's airport and the city's financial district.

The maglev, which has a top speed of more than 500km/h (310mph), is regarded as a symbol of German technological prowess.

However, the maglev project suffered a set back in September 2006 when a train collided with a parked maintenance vehicle on a test run in northern Germany, killing 23 people.

Japan has said it aims to launch its first maglev rail service by 2025.

No date was given for the launch of the Munich service.

Graphic showing how a maglev train works
Opposite poles on magnets keep train above track
Train is propelled by electro-magnetic system in the sides of the "guideway" instead of onboard engine
Top speed (with passengers) - 450km/h (280mph)
Developed by Transrapid Int in Germany
Operating commercially in Shanghai
Test facility in Emsland, northern Germany, is longest of its kind at 31.5km (19.5 miles)
Source: Transrapid International

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