magnetic levitation train

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Transrapid Shanghai Maglev Train stopping at terminus Longyang Road station
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Inside the Shanghai Transrapid maglev
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Inside the Shanghai Transrapid maglev VIP section
Magnetic levitation transport, or maglev, is a form of transportation that suspends, guides and propels vehicles (especially trains) using electromagnetic force. This method can be faster than wheeled mass transit systems, potentially reaching velocities comparable to turboprop and jet aircraft (900 km/h, 600 mph). The highest recorded speed of a maglev train is 581 km/h (361 mph), achieved in Japan in 2003, which is 4 mph more than the conventional TGV speed record.


Maglev research in the 1960s in the United States was short-lived. In the 1970s, Germany and Japan began research and after some failures both nations developed mature technologies in the 1990s. However, superconductor related costs remain a barrier to acceptance.

Commercial operation

The first commercial Maglev was opened in 1984 in Birmingham, England, covering some 600 meters between its airport and railhub, but was eventually closed in 1995 due to reliability and design problems. It operated at 42 km/h (26 mph). A contractor added an extra layer of fiberglass, and new trains had to be built. Its speedometer was based on radar, and was thrown off by snow.

The only currently commercially operating high-speed maglev line of note is the IOS (initial operating segment) demonstration line of the German built Transrapid train in Shanghai, China that transports people 30 km (18.6 miles) to the airport in just 7 minutes 20 seconds, achieving a top velocity of 431 km/h (268 mph), averaging 250 km/h (150 mph).

Other commercially operating lines exist in Japan, such as the Linimo line. Other maglev projects worldwide are being studied for feasibility. In Japan at the Yamanashi test track, current maglev train technology is mature, but costs and problems remain a barrier to development, alternate technologies are being developed to address those issues.


All operational implementations of maglev technology have had minimal overlap with wheeled train technology and have not been compatible with conventional rail tracks. Because they cannot share existing infrastructure, maglevs must be designed as complete transportation systems. The term "maglev" refers not only to the vehicles, but to the railway system as well, specifically designed for magnetic levitation and propulsion.

See also fundamental technology elements in the JR-Maglev article, Technology in the Transrapid article, Magnetic levitation

There are two primary types of maglev technology:
  • electromagnetic suspension (EMS) uses the attractive magnetic force of a magnet beneath a rail to lift the train up.
  • electrodynamic suspension (EDS) uses a repulsive force between two magnetic fields to push the train away from the rail.
Another experimental technology, which was designed, proven mathematically, peer reviewed, and patented, but is yet to be built, is the magnetodynamic suspension (MDS), which uses the attractive magnetic force of a permanent magnet array near a steel track to lift the train and hold it in place.

Electromagnetic suspension

In current EMS systems, the train levitates above a steel rail while electromagnets, attached to the train, are oriented toward the rail from below. The electromagnets use feedback control to maintain a train at a constant distance from the track, at approximately  mm ( in).

Electrodynamic suspension

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EDS Maglev Propulsion via propulsion coils
In Electrodynamic suspension (EDS), both the rail and the train exert a magnetic field, and the train is levitated by the repulsive force between these magnetic fields. The magnetic field in the train is produced by either electromagnets (as in JR-Maglev) or by an array of permanent magnets (as in Inductrack). The repulsive force in the track is created by an induced magnetic field in wires or other conducting strips in the track.

At slow speeds, the current induced in these coils and the resultant magnetic flux is not large enough to support the weight of the train. For this reason the train must have wheels or some other form of landing gear to support the train until it reaches a speed that can sustain levitation.

Propulsion coils on the guideway are used to exert a force on the magnets in the train and make the train move forward. The propulsion coils that exert a force on the train are effectively a linear motor: An alternating current flowing through the coils generates a continuously varying magnetic field that moves forward along the track. The frequency of the alternating current is synchronized to match the speed of the train. The offset between the field exerted by magnets on the train and the applied field create a force moving the train forward.

Magnetodynamic suspension

Magnetodynamic suspension, invented by Dr.Oleg Tozoni, is similar to the EMS system in that it uses attractive forces, but differs in that the magnets used for suspension are permanent, and the stability is built into the system itself using physics/mechanical systems, as opposed to EMS's computer systems. MDS is based on the idea of using a minimum energy point to balance the train. A simple way to explain this is to compare EMS to a hill, with minimum energy points on the sides of it, and MDS to a valley with the minimum point in the center. The center of each would be the vehicle's suspended center point. If you put a ball on the top of the hill and apply any force to it, the ball will try to roll down, and you would need to apply a compensation force in the other direction to keep it centered. Once the ball gets to the top of the hill, it will try to keep rolling down the other side, and an opposite, compensating force is needed. This is what EMS does when it uses stabilising systems to increase or decrease the strength of the electromagnets holding the train suspended, and that system is inherently unstable, requiring a constant outside stabilising force. MDS, on the other hand, is more like a valley with the energy minimum in the center. It takes energy to move the ball away from the bottom, and the ball returns to the bottom on its own. This is possible because steel magnetic permeability is highly dependent on magnetic flux intensity in that steel. Basically, the more you magnetize steel, the more difficult it is to magnetize it even more. Once the steel becomes fully saturated, bringing a magnet closer to it will not increase the strength of the magnetic field between the magnet and the magnetically saturated steel. Dr. Tozoni figured out how to create what is essentially magnetic insulation, which would keep magnetic fields escaping from the steel rails into the surrounding air, thus concentrating the magnetic field in those rails and saturating them. MDS uses a series of magnets constructed in such a way that when the array is suspended within the steel rail, the lateral, side-to-side, forces pulling the train towards the steel rails become much weaker than the horizontal, up-down, force holding the magnets centered between the rails. When two such magnet arrays are arranged perpendicular to each other, the stronger forces cancel out the weaker forces, forcing the train to stay centered between the rails automatically, thus holding it in the minimum energy point; any outside force that moves the train away from the center line of travel is countered by a force wanting to bring the train back to the center minimum. AMLEVTrans

Pros and cons of different technologies

Each implementation of the magnetic levitation principle for train-type travel involves advantages and disadvantages. Time will tell us which principle, and whose implementation, wins out commercially.
  • Technology, EMS (Electromagnetic)
  • Pros
Magnetic fields inside and outside the vehicle are insignificant; proven, commercially available technology that can attain very high speeds (500 km/h); no wheels or secondary propulsion system needed
  • Cons
The separation between the vehicle and the guideway must be constantly monitored and corrected by computer systems to avoid collision due to the unstable nature of electromagnetic attraction; due to the system's inherent instability and the required constant corrections by outside systems, vibration issues may occur.
  • Technology, EDS (Electrodynamic)
  • Pros
Onboard magnets and large margin between rail and train enable highest recorded train speeds (581 km/h) and heavy load capacity; has recently demonstrated (December 2005) successful operations using high temperature superconductors in its onboard magnets, cooled with inexpensive liquid nitrogen
  • Cons
Strong magnetic fields onboard the train would make the train inaccessible to passengers with pacemakers or magnetic data storage media such as hard drives and credit cards, necessitating the use of magnetic shielding; limitations on guideway inductivity limit the maximum speed of the vehicle; vehicle must be wheeled for travel at low speeds; system per mile cost still considered prohibitive; the system is not yet out of prototype phase.
  • Technology, Inductrack System (Permanent Magnet EDS)
  • Pros
Failsafe Suspension - no power required to activate magnets; Magnetic field is localized below the car; can generate enough force at low speeds (around 5 km/h) to levitate maglev train; in case of power failure cars slow down on their own safely; Halbach arrays of permanent magnets may prove more cost-effective than electromagnets
  • Cons
Requires either wheels or track segments that move for when the vehicle is stopped. New technology that is still under development (as of 2007) and has as yet no commercial version or full scale system prototype.
  • Technology, MDS (Magnetodynamic)
  • Pros
Failsafe Suspension - no power required to activate magnets; separation between vehicle and guideway is automatic, requiring no outside control or monitoring; attractive force of permanent magnets is far greater than the repulsive or Halbach array force, thus smaller, cheaper magnets can be used; magnetic fields inside and outside vehicle are insignificant; in case of power failure cars slow down on their own safely; entire system is designed using physics and mathematic calculations, and all aspects of it, including resulting forces, can be calculated, designed, and improved upon on paper or computers before construction, thus not requiring costly experiments with test models; because permanent magnets and steel is used, there is no limit, within the system itself, on the speed the train can achieve while still being able to stay suspended.
  • Cons
Because guideway insulation works via vehicle-generated eddy currents, the vehicle must be wheeled to travel at low speeds; guideway construction requires laminated steel encased in aluminum cores, all of which must be made to exact specifications, and thus may prove costly. Technology exists as only proof on paper, patents, and peer-reviewed IEEE papers. No actual physical constructed models exist yet.
Neither Inductrack nor the Superconducting EDS nor the MDS are able to levitate vehicles at a standstill, although Inductrack provides levitation down to a much lower speed. Wheels are required for these systems. EMS systems are wheel-less.
The German Transrapid, Japanese HSST (Linimo), and Korean Rotem EMS maglevs levitate at a standstill, with electricity extracted from guideway using power rails for the latter two, and wirelessly for Transrapid. If guideway power is lost on the move, the Transrapid is still able to generate levitation down to 10 km/h speed, using the power from onboard batteries. This is not the case with the HSST and Rotem systems.


An EMS system can provide both levitation and propulsion using an onboard linear motor. EDS systems can only levitate the train using the magnets onboard, not propel it forward. As such, vehicles need some other technology for propulsion. A linear motor (propulsion coils) mounted in the track is one solution. Over long distances where the cost of propulsion coils could be prohibitive, a propeller or jet engine could be used.


Earnshaw's theorem shows that any combination of static magnets cannot be in a stable equilibrium. However, the various levitation systems achieve stable levitation by violating the assumptions of Earnshaw's theorem. Earnshaw's theorem assumes that the magnets are static and unchanging in field strength and that permeability is constant everywhere. EMS systems rely on active electronic stabilization. Such systems constantly measure the bearing distance and adjust the electromagnet current accordingly. All EDS systems are moving systems (no EDS system can levitate the train unless it is in motion). MDS systems use materials with non-uniform permeability.

Pros and cons of maglev vs. conventional trains

Due to the lack of physical contact between the track and the vehicle, there is no rolling friction, leaving only air resistance (although maglev trains also experience electromagnetic drag, this is relatively small at high speeds). [1]

The weight of the large electromagnets in EMS and EDS designs is a major design issue. A very strong magnetic field is required to levitate a massive train. For this reason one research path is using superconductors to improve the efficiency of the electromagnets.

The high speed of some maglev trains translates to more sound due to air displacement, which gets louder as the trains go faster. A study found that high speed maglev trains are 5 dB noisier than traditional trains.[2] At low speeds, however, maglev trains are nearly silent. However, two trains passing at a combined 1,000 km/h has been successfully demonstrated without major problems in Japan.

Braking issues and overhead wire wear are problems for the Fastech 360 railed Shinkansen. Maglev would eliminate these issues, but not the noise pollution issue. One advantage of maglev's higher speed would be extension of the serviceable area (3 hours radius) that can outcompete subsonic commercial aircraft.

Issues relating to magnets are also a factor. See suspension types.

As linear motors must fit within or straddle their track over the full length of the train, track design is challenging for anything other than point-to-point services. Curves must be gentle and avoid camber, while switches are very long and need care to avoid breaks in current.

Maglev needs very fast-responding control systems to maintain a stable height above the track; this needs careful design in the event of a failure in order to avoid crashing into the track during a power fluctuation.


The Shanghai maglev cost 9.93 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) to build.[3] This total includes infrastructure capital costs such as manufacturing and construction facilities, and operational training. At 50 yuan per passenger[4] and the current 7,000 passengers per day, income from the system is incapable of recouping the capital costs (including interest on financing) over the expected lifetime of the system, even ignoring operating costs.

China aims to limit the cost of future construction extending the maglev line to approximately 200 million yuan (US$24.6 million) per kilometer.<ref name="shanghi_maglev" /> These costs compare competitively with airport construction (e.g., Hong Kong Airport cost US$20 billion to build in 1998) and eight-lane Interstate highway systems that cost around US$50 million per mile in the US.

While high-speed maglevs are expensive to build, they are less expensive to operate and maintain than traditional high-speed trains, planes or intercity buses. Data from the Shanghai maglev project indicates that operation and maintenance costs are covered by the current relatively low volume of 7,000 passengers per day. Passenger volumes on the Pudong International Airport line are expected to rise dramatically once the line is extended from Longyang Road metro station all the way to Shanghai's downtown train depot.

The proposed Chūō Shinkansen maglev in Japan is estimated to cost approximately US$82 billion to build, with a route blasting long tunnels through mountains. A Tokaido maglev route replacing current Shinkansen would cost some 1/10 the cost, as no new tunnel blasting would be needed, but noise pollution issues would make it infeasible.

The only low-speed maglev (100 km/h) currently operational, the Japanese Linimo HSST, cost approximately US$100 million/km to build[5]. Besides offering improved O&M costs over other transit systems, these low-speed maglevs provide ultra-high levels of operational reliability and introduce little noise and zero air pollution into dense urban settings.

As maglev systems are deployed around the world, experts expect construction costs to drop as new construction methods are perfected.

Historical maglev systems

First patents

High speed transportation patents would be granted to various inventors throughout the world.[6] Early United States patents for a linear motor propelled train were awarded to the inventor, Alfred Zehden (German). The inventor would gain U.S. Patent 782,312  (June 21, 1902) and U.S. Patent RE12700  (August 21, 1907).[7] In 1907, another early electromagnetic transportation system was developed by F. S. Smith[8]. A series of German patents for magnetic levitation trains propelled by linear motors were awarded to Hermann Kemper between 1937 and 1941[9]. An early modern type of maglev train was described in U.S. Patent 3,158,765 , Magnetic system of transportation, by G. R. Polgreen (August 25, 1959). The first use of "maglev" in a United States patent was in "Magnetic levitation guidance"[10] by Canadian Patents and Development Limited.

Hamburg, Germany 1979

Transrapid 05 was the first maglev train with longstator propulsion licensed for passenger transportation. In 1979 a 908 m track was open in Hamburg for the first International Transportation Exhibition (IVA 79). There was so much interest that operation had to be extended three months after exhibition finished, after carrying more than 50,000 passengers. It was reassembled in Kassel in 1980.

Birmingham, England 1984–1995

The world's first commercial automated system was a low-speed maglev shuttle that ran from the airport terminal of Birmingham International Airport to the nearby Birmingham International railway station from 1984 to 1995. Based on experimental work commissioned by the British government at the British Rail Research Division laboratory at Derby, the length of the track was  m ( ft), and trains "flew" at an altitude of  mm ( in). It was in operation for nearly eleven years, but obsolescence problems with the electronic systems (lack of spare parts) made it unreliable in its later years and it has now been replaced with a cable-drawn system.

Several favourable conditions existed when the link was built.
  1. The BR Research vehicle was 3 tons and extension to the 8 ton vehicle was easy.
  2. Electrical power was easily available.
  3. Airport and rail buildings were suitable for terminal platforms.
  4. Only one crossing over a public road was required and no steep gradients were involved
  5. Land was owned by Railway or Airport
  6. Local industries and councils were supportive
  7. Some Government finance was provided and because of sharing work, the cost per organization was not high.

Japan, 1980s

Maglev speeds on the Miyazaki test track had regularly hit 517 km/h by 1979, but after an accident that destroyed the train, a new design was decided upon. Tests through the 1980s continued in Miyazaki before transferring a far larger and elaborate test track (20 km long) in Yamanashi in the late 1990s.

In Tsukuba, Japan (1985), the HSST-03 (Linimo) wins popularity in spite of being 30km/h and a run of low speed in Tsukuba World Exposition. In Okazaki, Japan (1987), the JR-Maglev took a test ride at holding Okazaki exhibition and runs. In Saitama, Japan (1988), the HSST-04-1 exhibited it at Saitama exhibition performed in Kumagaya, and runs. Best speed per hour 30km/h. In Yokohama, Japan (1989), the HSST-05 acquires a business driver's license at Yokohama exhibition and carries out general test ride driving. Maximum speed 42km/h.

Vancouver, Canada & Hamburg, Germany 1986-1988

In Vancouver, Canada (1986), the JR-Maglev took a test ride at holding Vancouver traffic exhibition and runs. In Hamburg, Germany (1988), the TR-07 in international traffic exhibition (IVA88) performed Hamburg.

Berlin, Germany 1989–1991

Main article: M-Bahn

In West Berlin, the M-Bahn was built in the late 1980s. It was a driverless maglev system with a 1.6 km track connecting three stations. Testing in passenger traffic started in August 1989, and regular operation started in July 1991. Although the line largely followed a new elevated alignment, it terminated at the U-Bahn station Gleisdreieck, where it took over a platform that was then no longer in use; it was from a line that formerly ran to East Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, plans were set in motion to reconnect this line (today's U2). Deconstruction of the M-Bahn line began only two months after regular service began and was completed in February 1992.

The history of maximum speed record by a trial run

  • 1971 - West Germany - Prinzipfahrzeug - 90 km/h
  • 1971 - West Germany -TR-02(TSST)- 164 km/h
  • 1972 - Japan - ML100 - 60 km/h - (manned)
  • 1973 - West Germany - TR04 - 250 (manned)
  • 1974 - West Germany - EET-01 - 230 km/h (unmanned)
  • 1975 - West Germany - Komet - 401.3 km/h (by steam rocket propulsion, unmanned)
  • 1978 - Japan - HSST-01 - 307.8 km/h (by supporting rockets propulsion, made in Nissan, unmanned)
  • 1978 - Japan - HSST-02 - 110 km/h (manned)
  • 1979-12-12 - Japan-ML-500R - 504 km/h (unmanned) It succeeds in operation over 500km/h for the first time in the world.
  • 1979-12-21 - Japan -ML-500R- 517 km/h (unmanned)
  • 1987 - West Germany - TR06 - 406 km/h (manned)
  • 1987 - Japan - MLU001 - 400.8 km/h (manned)
  • 1988 - West Germany - TR-06 - 412.6 km/h (manned)
  • 1989 - West Germany - TR-07 - 436 km/h (manned) 
  • 1993 - Germany - TR-07 - 450 km/h (manned)
  • 1994 - Japan - MLU002N - 431 km/h (unmanned)
  • 1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 531 km/h (manned)
  • 1997 - Japan - MLX01 - 550 km/h (unmanned)
  • 1999 - Japan - MLX01 - 548 km/h (unmanned)
  • 1999 - Japan - MLX01 - 552 km/h (manned/five formation).
Guinness authorization.
  • 2003 - Germany - TR-08 - 501 km/h (manned)
  • 2003 - Japan - MLX01 - 581 km/h (manned/three formation).
Guinness authorization.

Existing maglev systems

Emsland, Germany

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Transrapid at the Emsland test facility
Main article: Emsland test facility
Transrapid, a German maglev company, has a test track in Emsland with a total length of 31.5 km (19.6 mi). The single track line runs between Dörpen and Lathen with turning loops at each end. The trains regularly run at up to 420 km/h (261 mph). The construction of the test facility began in 1980 and finished in 1984.

JR-Maglev, Japan

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JR-Maglev at Yamanashi. 581 km/h. Guinness World Records authorization.
Main article: JR-Maglev
Japan has a demonstration line in Yamanashi prefecture where test trains JR-Maglev MLX01 have reached 581 km/h (361 mph), slightly faster than any wheeled trains (the current TGV speed record is 574.8 km/h, 357.0 mph).

These trains use superconducting magnets which allow for a larger gap, and repulsive-type Electro-Dynamic Suspension (EDS). In comparison Transrapid uses conventional electromagnets and attractive-type Electro-Magnetic Suspension (EMS). These "Superconducting Maglev Shinkansen", developed by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, are currently the fastest trains in the world, achieving a record speed of 581 km/h on December 2, 2003. Yamanashi Prefecture residents (and government officials) can sign up to ride this for free, and some 100,000 have done so already.

Linimo (Tobu Kyuryo Line, Japan)

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Linimo train approaching Banpaku Kinen Koen, towards Fujigaoka Station in March 2005
Main article: Linimo
The world's first commercial automated "Urban Maglev" system commenced operation in March 2005 in Aichi, Japan. This is the nine-station 8.9 km long Tobu-kyuryo Line, otherwise known as the Linimo. The line has a minimum operating radius of 75 m and a maximum gradient of 6%. The linear-motor magnetic-levitated train has a top speed of 100 km/h. The line serves the local community as well as the Expo 2005 fair site. The trains were designed by the Chubu HSST Development Corporation (Japan Airlines developed it in the mid-1970s; it has since been withdrawn), which also operates a test track in Nagoya. Urban-type maglevs patterned after the HSST have been constructed and demonstrated in Korea, and a Korean commercial version Rotem is now under construction in Daejeon and projected to go into operation by April 2007.

FTA's UMTD program

In the US, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Urban Maglev Technology Demonstration program has funded the design of several low-speed urban maglev demonstration projects. It has assessed HSST for the Maryland Department of Transportation and maglev technology for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The FTA has also funded work by General Atomics at California University of Pennsylvania to demonstrate new maglev designs, the MagneMotion M3 and of the Maglev2000 of Florida superconducting EDS system. Other US urban maglev demonstration projects of note are the LEVX in Washington State and the Massachusetts-based Magplane.

Southwest Jiaotong University, China

On December 31, 2000, the first crewed high-temperature superconducting maglev was tested successfully at Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China. This system is based on the principle that bulk high-temperature superconductors can be levitated or suspended stably above or below a permanent magnet. The load was over 530 kg (1166 lb) and the levitation gap over 20 mm (0.79 in). The system uses liquid nitrogen, which is very cheap, to cool the superconductor.

Shanghai Maglev Train

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A maglev train coming out of the Pudong International Airport.
Main article: Shanghai Maglev Train
Transrapid, in Germany, constructed the first operational high-speed conventional maglev railway in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Train from downtown Shanghai (Shanghai Metro) to the Pudong International Airport. It was inaugurated in 2002. The highest speed achieved on the Shanghai track has been 501 km/h (311 mph), over a track length of 30 km. The plan for the Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train was approved by the central government in February 2006, with plans for completion by 2010.

Under construction

Old Dominion University

A track of less than a mile in length has been constructed at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Although the system was initially built by AMT, problems caused the company to abandon the project and turn it over to the University.[11][12] The system is currently not operational, but research is ongoing to resolve stability issues with the system. This system uses a "smart train, dumb track" that involves most of the sensors, magnets, and computation occurring on the train rather than the track. This system will cost less to build per mile than existing systems. Unfortunately, the $14 Million originally planned did not allow for completion.

AMT Test Track - Powder Springs, GA

The same principle is involved in the construction of a second prototype system in Powder Springs, Georgia, by American Maglev Technology, Inc., already under testing and set for completion in January 2007.[13]


Many maglev systems have been proposed in various nations of North America, Asia, and Europe. Many of the systems are still in the early planning stages, or, in the case of the transatlantic tunnel, mere speculation. However, a few of the following examples have progressed beyond that point.

United Kingdom

Main article: UK Ultraspeed
LondonGlasgow: A maglev line has recently been proposed in the United Kingdom from London to Glasgow with several route options through the Midlands, Northwest and Northeast of England and was reported to be under favourable consideration by the government; however the technology was rejected for future planning in the Government White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway published on July 24 2007.[14]. A further high speed link is also being planned between Glasgow and Edinburgh though there is no settled technology for this concept yet, ie (Maglev/Hi Speed Electric etc) [1] [2] [3]


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Proposed Chuo Shinkansen route (gray) and existing Tokaido Shinkansen route (gold).
The master plan for the Chuo Shinkansen bullet train system was finalized based on the Law for Construction of Countrywide Shinkansen. The Linear Chuo Shinkansen Project aims to realize this plan through utilization of the Superconductive Magnetically Levitated Train, which connects Tokyo and Osaka by way of Nagoya, the capital city of Aichi in approximately one hour at a speed of 500km/h. In April of 2007, JR Central President Masayuki Matsumoto said that JR Central would aim to begin commercial maglev service between Tokyo and Nagoya in the year 2025.


CaracasLa Guaira: A maglev train is scheduled to be built this year connecting the capital city Caracas to the main port town of La Guaira and Simón Bolívar International Airport. Due to the extremely mountainous conditions which exist over this path, with traditional rail extensive use of tunnelling and bridging is required. Maglev systems can negotiate gradients of up to 10%, much steeper than those negotiable by standard rail systems, and as it may simply be able to climb over obstacles rather than be required to tunnel through or bridge over, this may make the maglev proposal more economically sound. The system is slated to be a stand-alone system of about 11 km. [4]


ShanghaiHangzhou: China has decided to extend the world’s first commercial Transrapid line between Pudong airport and the city of Shanghai initially by some 35 kilometers to Hong Qiao airport before the World Expo 2010 and then, in an additional phase, by 200 kilometers to the city of Hangzhou (Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train), becoming the first inter-city Maglev rail line in commercial service in the world. The line will be an extension of the Shanghai airport Maglev line.

Talks with Germany and Transrapid Konsortium about the details of the construction contracts have started. On March 7 2006, the Chinese Minister of Transportation was quoted by several Chinese and Western newspapers as saying the line was approved.


MumbaiDelhi:A maglev line project was presented to the India transportation minister Lalu Prasad by an American company, thin line if approved would serve between the cities of Mumbai and Delhi, the Prime Minister Manmohan singh said that if the line project is succeeded Indian government would build lines between other cities and also between Mumbai centre and Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport. Mumbai maglev train

United States

California-Nevada Interstate Maglev: High-speed maglev lines between major cities of southern California and Las Vegas are also being studied via the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev Project. This plan was originally supposed to be part of an I-5 or I-15 expansion plan, but the federal government has ruled it must be separated from interstate public work projects.

Since the federal government decision, private groups from Nevada have proposed a line running from Las Vegas to Los Angeles with stops in Primm, Nevada; Baker, California; and points throughout Riverside County into Los Angeles. Southern California politicians have not been receptive to these proposals; many are concerned that a high speed rail line out of state would drive out dollars that would be spent in state "on a rail" to Nevada.

Baltimore-Washington D.C. Maglev: A 64 km project has been proposed linking Camden Yards in Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport to Union Station in Washington, D.C. It is in demand for the area due to its current traffic/congestion problems.

The Pennsylvania Project: The Pennsylvania High-Speed Maglev Project corridor extends from the Pittsburgh International Airport to Greensburg, with intermediate stops in downtown Pittsburgh and Monroeville. This initial project will serve a population of approximately 2.4 million people in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The Baltimore proposal is competing with the Pittsburgh proposal for a $90 million federal grant.The point of the project is to see if the Maglev system can function properly in a U.S. city environment.[15]


Madrid: A maglev line between the airport (Madrid barajas) and 3 places of the city (Chamartin, Alcala de Henares, Carabanchel) has been proposed, and is now being studied by the government. It would be similar to Shanghai's maglev. The news came through on "La Razon" newspaper on 4 June 2007.


On September 25, 2007, Bavaria announced it will build the high-speed maglev - rail service from Munich city to its airport, Europe's first commercial track. The Bavarian government signed contract with Deutsche Bahn and Transrapid with Siemens and ThyssenKrupp for the 1.85 billion euro ($2.6 billion) project.[16]

Most significant accidents and incidents

October 1991 fire

The MLU002 (Japan) test train was completely consumed in a fire in Miyazaki. As a result, political opposition began to see maglev as a waste of public money. New designs were made.

August 2006 fire

On August 11, 2006 a fire broke out on the Shanghai commercial Transrapid, shortly after leaving the terminal in Longyang.
For more details, see Transrapid

September 2006 crash

On September 22, 2006 an elevated Transrapid train collided with a maintenance vehicle on a test run in Lathen (Lower Saxony / north-western Germany). Twenty-three people were killed and ten were injured. These were the first fatalities resulting from a Maglev train accident. Note though, this accident was caused by human error [17]

See also


1. ^ The power consumption per passenger-km of the Transrapid Maglev train at 200 km/h is 24% less than the ICE at 200 km/h (22 Wh per seat-km, compared to 29 W·h per seat-km).[5]
2. ^ April 2004 article in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America[6][7]
3. ^ [8], China Daily Shanghai maglev gets official approval. 2006-04-27.
4. ^ [9], China Daily Shanghai maglev ticket prices cut by 1/3. 2004-04-15.
5. ^ Nagoya builds Maglev Metro, International Railway Journal, May 2004.
6. ^ U.S. Patent 3,736,880 , January 21, 1972. Page 10 Column 1 Line 15 to Page 10 Column 2 Line 25.
7. ^ These patents would later be cited by Electromagnetic apparatus generating a gliding magnetic field by Jean Delassus (U.S. Patent 4,131,813 ), Air cushion supported, omnidirectionally steerable, travellng magnetic field propulsion device by Harry A. Mackie (U.S. Patent 3,357,511 ) and Two-sided linear induction motor especially for suspended vehicles by Schwarzler et al. (U.S. Patent 3,820,472 )
8. ^ U.S. Patent 859,018 , July 2, 1907
9. ^ These German patents would be GR643316(1937), GR44302(1938), GR707032(1941)
10. ^ U.S. Patent 3,858,521 ; March 26, 1973
11. ^ The Student Voice: Will the Maglev Ever Run?. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.
12. ^ President Runte Comments On Status Of Maglev. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.
13. ^ AMT Test Track. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.
14. ^ (September 2007) "Government’s five-year plan". Railway Magazine 153 (1277): 6-7. 
15. ^ The Pennsylvania Project. Retrieved on .
16. ^ BBC NEWS, Germany to build maglev railway
17. ^ [10]

Further reading

  • Heller, Arnie. "A New Approach for Magnetically Levitating Trains--and Rockets", Science & Technology Review, June 1998. 
  • Hood, Christopher P. (2006). Shinkansen – From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32052-6. 
  • Moon, Francis C. (1994). Superconducting Levitation Applications to Bearings and Magnetic Transportation. Wiley-VCH. ISBN 0-471-55925-3. 

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Electromagnetism is the physics of the electromagnetic field: a field which exerts a force on particles that possess the property of electric charge, and is in turn affected by the presence and motion of those particles.
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wheel is a circular device capable of rotating on its axis, facilitating movement or transportation or performing labour in machines. A wheel together with an axle overcomes friction by facilitating motion by rolling. Common examples are found in transport applications.
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TGV (train à grande vitesse, French for "high-speed train") is France's high-speed rail service developed by GEC-Alsthom (now Alstom) and SNCF, the French national rail operator, and operated primarily by SNCF.
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Superconductivity is a phenomenon occurring in certain materials at extremely low temperatures, characterized by exactly zero electrical resistance and the exclusion of the interior magnetic field (the Meissner effect).
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Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the Transrapid system started in 1969. The test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany was completed in 1987, and on 17 June 1993 the Transrapid TR-07 vehicle
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velocity is defined as the rate of change of position. It is a vector physical quantity, both speed and direction are required to define it. In the SI (metric) system, it is measured in meters per second (m/s). The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is speed.
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Kilometres per hour (American English: kilometers per hour) is a unit of both speed (scalar) and velocity (vector). The unit symbol is km/h or km·h−1
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Miles per hour is a unit of speed, expressing the number of international miles covered per hour.

Miles per hour is the unit used for speed limits, and speeds, on roads in the United Kingdom, United States and some other nations, where it is commonly abbreviated in everyday
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Linimo (リニモ Rinimo)
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Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県 Yamanashi-ken)

Capital Kōfu
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train is a series of rail vehicles that move along guides to transport freight or passengers from one place to another. The guideway (permanent way) usually consists of conventional rail tracks, but might also be monorail or maglev.
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JR-Maglev is a magnetic levitation train system developed by the Japan Railway Technical Research Institute (association of Japan Railway Group). JR-Maglev MLX01 (X means experimental
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Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the Transrapid system started in 1969. The test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany was completed in 1987, and on 17 June 1993 the Transrapid TR-07 vehicle
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Magnetic levitation, maglev, or magnetic suspension is a method by which an object is suspended above another object with no support other than magnetic fields. The electromagnetic force is used to counteract the effects of the gravitational force.
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Magnetic levitation, maglev, or magnetic suspension is a method by which an object is suspended above another object with no support other than magnetic fields. The electromagnetic force is used to counteract the effects of the gravitational force.
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An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of an electric current. The magnetic field disappears when the current ceases. British electrician William Sturgeon invented the electromagnet in 1825.
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An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of an electric current. The magnetic field disappears when the current ceases. British electrician William Sturgeon invented the electromagnet in 1825.
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JR-Maglev is a magnetic levitation train system developed by the Japan Railway Technical Research Institute (association of Japan Railway Group). JR-Maglev MLX01 (X means experimental
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