Getting between Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport (PVG) and downtown is relatively easy on the metro, if not especially fast. The ride to or from People’s Square is around 90 minutes and only a couple bucks. But if you’re willing to spend an extra $6 you can shave nearly an hour off the trip and get to ride the fastest electric train operating in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Demonstration Train. It is completely worth the splurge.
The maglev ride is only seven to eight minutes, with a top speed ranging between 300km/h (186mph) and 430km/h (267mph), depending on what time of day you ride (timetable here). It is one of those amazing time-saving opportunities you wish would last longer. Alas, you’re paying for the speed so that isn’t going to happen.
The airport station is a bit of a hike from the main terminal while the Longyang Road station is conveniently “attached” to Lines 2, 7 and 16 of the Shanghai Metro. You do walk out of the fare gates – with a LOT of taxi touts hustling to pick up fares – between the Shanghai maglev and the metro but it is a relatively easy transfer to make.
On board the Shanghai Maglev
The ride is incredibly smooth, which is no surprise. You’re floating above the guideway, not rolling along the “track” thanks to magnetic levitation holding the car up. The lifting sensation is noticeable as the train kicks into gear, wobbling a tiny bit in place as it rises up before beginning its trek. Once it starts, however, it is hard to notice anything but the smooth ride.
The interior is not particularly special as far as seating goes. It is hardly plush and doesn’t particularly strive to be. After all, you’re only on board for a few minutes. That said, as I wandered to the “back” of the train at Longyang Road I noticed that the seats closest to the cab were only 2 on each side rather than three. Every little bit helps.
Save some cash riding the Shanghai Maglev
The standard fare for a ride is only 50 Yuan (~$7.50) but it is possible to save 10 Yuan simply by showing a same-day plane ticket. In my case I was headed to the airport and did not yet have a boarding pass. I showed the flight booking on my phone screen and that was sufficient to score the discount. It is hard to believe that there might be passengers riding who are not also flying in or out but the default is to only sell the more expensive ticket. You must actively mention the discount to get the savings.
More from 2017 China Walkabout
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