FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Having travelled by car several times to Pudong International Airport, I thought it was about time I gave the Maglev train a try. I was staying at the Pudong Shangri-La. It was Saturday morning and there was no traffic about, but still the journey to the station took 15 minutes. During the week, I would be concerned.
Approaching the station, I felt like I was going through a building site. I was dropped off at the bottom of a set of escalators and it was one floor up to the ticket office. There was no queue and my ticket was issued in minutes.
Boarding is easy. After a quick luggage screen, it is through the ticket barriers and up another escalator to the train where you choose your seat. I was in my seat within five minutes of arriving at the station.
THE SEAT: The carriages are open, so you can see almost the length of the train. Seats are fitted in a 3-3 configuration with carriages alternating between forward and backward facing. My VIP carriage is fitted 2-2 across with separate chairs, while the ordinary carriage is 3-3 train style with no armrest between seats.
THE JOURNEY: The service operates from 6.45am until 9.30pm and for most of the day, the frequency is every 15 minutes. My train left within a minute of boarding and the speedometer in the carriage showed us doing 50kph almost before we left the station. The train smoothly accelerated to 301kph over about two minutes, and stayed at the speed until a minute or so before arrival. It was a smooth ride with just some side-to-side movement and tilting as the train made turns. Train speeds vary during the day and those in the morning and late afternoon are restricted to 300kph.
From 9am till about 5pm, the train is allowed up to 430kph. Which I thought, just reaching that speed must take up most of the journey! The total travel time was about eight minutes and obviously slightly quicker during midday. There is a reasonable walking distance from the station to the terminal.
PRICES: CNY50 (US$7) for single and CNY80 (US$11) for return valid for seven days. VIP class is CNY100 (US$14) and CNY160 (US$23), although peering through the window I could not see why you would pay the difference.
VERDICT: Good value compared to a limo and very quick, you feel it’s over before it begins. It is worth taking the ride if you are close to the station, otherwise the time to get there may negate the speed of the journey.