MagLev Trains?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by RobertInOntario, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    My wife and sons have been borrowing some excellent train books from the local Library recently and we've really been enjoying these (and learning a lot myself!).

    One of these books is on MagLev trains (Magnetic Levitation). Basically, these trains use their own unique track -- they actually float just above the track and use the power of magnets to propel the train. No engine or wheels are needed. Apparently, these trains are becoming popular in Europe and Japan. The book also said that there plans underway for creating a MagLev train in the southwestern USA.

    I'd never heard of such things until I read this book and I was just wondering what Gauge members think or know about these trains.

  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Germany and Japan are the big MagLev players so far, to my knowledge. There's a fairly extensive MagLev test track in Germany, it shows up on all the "extreme machine" shows... basically a cool technology, but still not cost-efficient for large scale use.
  3. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks! That makes sense. I thought it was kind of cool and weird at the same time. Although I suppose these are technically still trains, they almost seem to be a completely new form of transportation. They're obviously not "rail" trains. Rob
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I've been mentally classing them with monorails and suchlike in general.

    The drawback to them is that they use a lot of electricity, as you might imagine.
  5. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Isn't there one in China somewhere as well that goes in between a major city and an airport?
  6. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I ride one from Shanghai to Pudong Airport, runs 430kph.
    It's a short trip!!!

    I will try to find better details and a pic.
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Interesting! So what's your opinion of these -- are these the way of the future or are they too expensive and complicated to operate? Do you think they will ever replace "rail" trains?

    Thanks, Rob
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I think the answer to that is: "It depends on who is paying for it."

    In America, the private venture outlay for a decent M-L line would be very expensive, and even more so if condemnation procedures were need to insure adequate right of way.

    One thing that truly puzzles me, however: Our President says we do not have what it takes to fence of the border with Mexico, yet every high speed train in Europe and the Far East travels on a dedicated right-of-way that appears to be fully fenced on both sides from one end to the other. :confused: Maybe we should outsource the border job, like all the rest. :rolleyes:
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Now that you mention it, most or all of the railways that I've seen in southern England are fenced off as well. (My family and I usually visit southern England every 18 months or so.) But then most of the railways in southern England are electrified via a live third rail! :eek: so they pretty much have to be fenced off!

    This is quite different from our track over here in Canada where diesel trains operate. You can easily cross the tracks and walk on them here, and you rarely see any lines that are completely fenced off.
  10. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    What? No mention of China, the only country in the world with an operating commercial Maglev line? :)

    As Cidchase mentioned, Shanghai has a maglev line linking the local subway system to the international airport. It's been in operation over four years now.

    German design and "floating stock". Very, very cool. And totally unprofitable. That will get even worse as a planned subway line duplicates the maglev route (slower, but cheaper and much more convenient). To be honest, I don't think profitability was the reason for construction, it seemed to be more or less a prestige project. And in that sense it's been a success.

    Photo from here.

    Attached Files:

  11. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    There is serious drawback to maglev - the track is really, really expensive.

    The Chinese gov't actually considered running a maglev from Shanghai to Beijing! In the end, they decided that electric high-speed bullet trains (like those used in Japan and France) could attain nearly the same speeds at far less cost.

    The Shanghai city gov't is still toying with the idea of extending the existing line. One possibility under discussion is linking it to the site of the World Expo which Shanghai is hosting in 2010. Another idea is to connect Shanghai with neighboring Hangzhou. Both ideas have been on-again off-again, due to the cost (especially the track), and protests by locals living near proposed lines.
  12. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks for this info & feedback. It's a whole new category of trains that I know very little about. Rob
  13. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks as well -- great photo! Rob
  14. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Yes, they were mentioned in a rather indirect sort of way!
    You did acknowledge cidchases post though and I thank you for elaborating on it... and with a picture as well!
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Robert: I seem to remember that they were planning a mag-lev demonstration line at the CNE grounds several decades ago. They got as far as chopping all the trees down before it was abandoned and then they built the Scarborough RT line instead.
  16. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks ... yes, it's sounding as if MagLev trains are expensive and that electric (light) railway lines are more practical. Rob
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Somewhere, I heard about an idea that could make maglev economical. I believe it was "linear induction maglev" or something like that. The track didn't have to be powered. Induced current in the coils in the track created a magnetic field that repelled the coils in the train. Actually, this design was conceived for personal rapid transit - single-car "trains" used like taxis rather than like buses.
  18. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Linear Induction is used on the Scarborogh RT line and some Vancouver lines that use successor equipment.
    I remember an article about a modeller who tried a similar tack. Steel rod down the middle of the track wrapped with a wire coil. A car with a horseshoe magnet under it and contacts for the wire coil fore and aft. He said that on the first test, with minimal current, the car hurled itself off the end of the track and demolished itself against the concrete wall.
  19. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Maglev / Linear Induction...

    A little bit of magnetic power will give you Linear Induction.

    The power to push the train forward.

    A lot of magnetic power will give you Magnetic Levitation and Linear Induction.

    The Scarborough RT [In Toronto Ontario Canada] uses Linear Induction.

    The process reduces and/or eliminates moving parts that wear out. Innitial installation cost is prohibitive, but long term operations are cheaper.

    The problem with the RT is climate. It bogs down in deep snow.

    Magnetism is fickle. It is reliant on proximity. This means that the Magnetic Inductor between the rails of the track have to be very close to the underside of the train cars. Practically touching.

    Once you pile snow on the Magnetic Inductor, the train has to plow through it and is lifted by it. You loose forward propulsion by being lifted, and pushing through isn't possible.

    There is a little bit of lift given in the process which requires the wheels of the train to have deeper flanges to keep the wheels on the track.

    You have to be a bit of a socialist / economist to appreciate cost vs value of major high tech rapid transit projects.

    In Europe and Asia you have very large/dense populations and Urban Centers are closer together making any high speed rapid transit more used and useful.

    In North America, the population has yet to reach that critical mass/density that will allow the same types of technology to be feasable.
  20. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks for this info, TinGoat. It's interesting and helpful.

    I've also thought that our distances & climate, especially here in Canada, are major reasons why electric trains haven't caught on here as they have in Britain and Europe. It's comparatively easy to run electric trains -- either with overhead wires or with electrified track -- in England & France, etc.

    IMO, I can't see how we could construct and maintain such 3rd rail electrified track over here with our extreme winters and distances.


Share This Page