China's first "sky train" officially began its operation on Monday in the south-western city of Chengdu. If this trial run becomes successful, then the public suspension railway service will be rolled out to the other parts of the nation.
The trains are powered by lithium batteries and will be able to travel at a speed of up to about 60 km/h, which is similar to the speed of normal subway trains.
The black and white "sky train" hangs from a rail about eight metres above the ground. It will be tested along a 1.4 km route at Zhongtang's test site. Each suspension railway carriage is capable of carrying over 100 passengers in each of its two cabins.
According to experts, the technology apparently costs one-fifth of that of an underground metro line. The journalists, who had a chance to experience the train ride, reported that the ride was "smooth with only moderate shaking throughout their journey".
A newly registered company, Zhongtang Skytrain Group developed the suspension railway. It told the South China Morning Post that Chengdu was planning for two different routes for its suspension trains.
One of those routes will travel to the city's tourist attractions while the other line will run from Shuangliu Airport to the centre of Shuangliu county. The construction work for the former line is scheduled to start next year.
Similar technologies, powered by electricity are present in Germany and Japan. In Germany, the line operates 12 metres above the Wupper River, a tributary of the River Rhine and in Japan the two-line suspension railway is located in Chiba prefecture.