Sunday, October 31, 2010

Magnetically levitated trains are the future, who needs all these highways?

Image Credit: 2010 Shanghai Expo, org.

The Beijing Times has announced that China has recently begun constructing Maglev trains, transportation that can go speeds of about 600 kilometres per hour. They have been around for some time and are already in use in Japan, or as everyone else knows it the land of futuristic everything.

Maglev trains, derived from Magnetic Levitation, work on the principle that trains can hover and propel themselves using magnets instead of using wheels, thereby reducing friction substantially and increasing the top speed from one hundred to several hundred kilometres per hour. The science behind their operation is actually quite simple. There are two motors, one to levitate the train and the other one to propel the train. The one levitating the train works like the magnets we all played with back in elementary school; put a magnet close to another magnet and it pushes it away. In the life-sized version the track is one of the magnets, and the other one is on the train. The propelling magnet is nothing but a good old electric motor that's been linearized: stretched out along the train, with the other part of the motor overlaying the side of the track. The ability to float and push itself along the track allows it to go phenomenal speeds.

Check out the a maglev train in action, it almost seems like an airplane flying very low to the ground.


Despite the fact that the pinnacle of this technology is in Japan, China has done one better and has begun conducting research into implementing vacuum tunnels for their trains, allowing them to go even faster. This is done by literally sucking the air out of the tunnels these things travel through, decreasing air resistance and allowing the train to glide through the tunnel.

I wish these trains were used in the western world, but as we all know the west seems to value the automobile above anything else. But given the choice of having a clean, super futuristic, hover train that can go six times the speed of your car, and some rickety old dodge that barely makes it over the next pothole on an ugly highway, I think it would be painfully obvious which one I would pick, and I`m sure most people would agree with me. Hopefully they catch on and by the year 2030 I'll be taking the hover train to the University of Venus to get my PhDD. As always, one can dream.

Check out the original post from China Daily:


  1. there was an article a few years back about one being built in the states I think it was conecting vegas to somewhere but cant recall off hand

  2. That's pretty cool, but they're becoming nearly common place in Japan. I'm not sure how different the logistics and engineering of constructing these here would be, but I know the distances are far larger. I just wonder why they didn't catch on. Could it be political in nature?

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