• Sep 28th 2007 at 1:17PM
  • 10

I've been on quite a few flights lately, and usually, the worst part is not the airplane ride itself, but everything else that goes along with it. Like, either getting dropped off with all of your luggage or parking your car in the long-term lot, or taking a taxi ride. It sure would be nice if there was a good way to get to the airport that didn't cost an arm and a leg and was fast. According to this article, it sounds like Germany has the right idea with their new maglev project. Traveling from Munich's city center to the airport, the train can reach speeds of 310 miles per hour. Shouldn't take too long, then. The ride should be pretty good too, considering that maglev is short for magnetic levitation, so the train isn't even really riding on the track at all. Wouldn't it be nice to see trains like this connecting major cities here in the States too?


[Source: BBC via Slashdot via Engadget]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      As a German my impression is that it's more some kind of prestige project.
      It is "German" technology so we really need to promote it to sell it to other countries. Maybe even because they fear that the Chinese will steal the technology from their Shanghai line and make loads of money with it. *rollseyes*
      I really don't see the benefit compared to more standard means of public transportation at the current technology level.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Who needs to go that fast for that short amount of time? Are they recapturing all the energy used for acceleration during braking? Wouldn't a 200 mph train work just fine?

      I guess what I'm saying is, on the surface, this seems like way too much train for the journey. How much more does that extra 150mph cost? Someone change my mind...
      • 8 Months Ago
      This train line is hardly a done deal.

      • 8 Months Ago
      This is a pure Bavarian pork barrel project pushed through after a decade of resistance as a going-away present to departing Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber. In economic and ecological terms, maglev makes no sense whatsoever.

      The city of Munich will soon need the money for major roadworks now that the top Administrative Court in Germany has decided that cities are required to protect residents against excessive PM10 immissions even if the state has failed to produce a comprehensive plan of action. There is an EU law that requires such action, but virtually everyone has so far honored it only in the breach.

      In practice, the ruling will likely mean that major arteries will have to be closed on certain days - at least to the most polluting, old diesel cars in the fleet. There is already a sticker system for labeling diesels in Germany, based on which Euro emissions level the model was certified at, but it's not yet in effect in the places that need it most.
      • 8 Months Ago
      There has been talk about this in the US for many many years, but crooked politicians and budget shortfalls always make it die on the vine, that and the "not in my backyard" mentality of most.


      You name it, they've talked abou it. B
      • 8 Months Ago
      If we just weren't wasting so much money rebuilding other countries after we wasted so much money blowing them up. Oh, what was I thinking, they didn’t attack us first. Nation building and global policing is fun as long as we can waste the time and energy someplace else. Imagine what CONSTRUCTIVE things we could be doing here at home…
      • 8 Months Ago
      Maglev uses a significant amount of energy.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Take it up to 310 and shut the power off! (what would happen?)
      • 8 Months Ago
      Forget the airport! I'd love to take a 300mph train directly to my destination. Obviously it wouldn't be practical everywhere, but a high speed line between major cities would be great. San Francisco to LA would only take about 1.5 hours, which blows air travel after you factor in the 2 hours you spend waiting before and after a flight.
      • 8 Months Ago
      There are 3 types of magnetic levitation:
      1. Attractive levitation, using electromagnets attracted to a steel rail, requiring sophisticated electronics to control the distance. This is used by the German "Transrapid" design.
      2. Inductive levitation moves a powerful superconductive magnet over a track made of aluminum or copper coils, inducing a current that produces an opposing magnetic force which repels and lifts the magnet. The effect only occurs while moving at a sufficient speed, therefore wheels are needed to start moving and land. Stable, no sophisticated controls needed, but requires expensive cryocooling to maintain the ultracold superconducting magnet.
      3. Inductive levitation using permanent magnets, works like the superconductive type but doesn't require cryocooling. The permanent magnets are in a "Halbach array" configuration to concentrate the field on one side. This type of maglev has been patented by Laurence Livermore National Labs and named "Inductrack".

      Now to answer some comments.
      "Maglev uses a significant amount of energy."
      Yes and No. Of the three types, attractive levitation uses the most power. Compared to wheels, it is inefficient at low speeds, but has much less drag and requires less power at very high speeds. The "magnetic drag" for inductive levitation is far less than the drag caused by wheels, and requires less power than wheeled vehicles once levitation speeds are reached (about 20 mph). The Inductrack design is the most efficient high speed transport yet devised.

      "Take it up to 310 and shut the power off! (what would happen?)"
      With the Transrapid attractive levitation, there is battery backups and redundant systems designed to maintain levitation until the train can be stopped. If the system failed completely, there would be a long loud screetch as the train skidded down the track, but due to the design it shouldn't derail.

      Both inductive levitation designs rely on forward momentum for levitation, not electrical power, so they would continue gliding down the track until the speed drops too low and they land gracefully on their wheels.

      "Wouldn't a 200 mph train work just fine?"
      Well, sort of. To make a compelling case for Transrapid over wheeled trains requires very high speeds, difficult to achieve with wheels, and the only time when Transrapid can be more energy efficient than wheels. The Inductrack makes a compelling case even at 80 mph, due to higher energy efficiency and less maintenance, but could easily achieve much higher speeds if needed. I suspect higher speeds would be of interest mainly on longer runs, due to time savings.
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