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Japan Developing 500kph MagLev Train

I thought I would link to this article that begs the question, "How fast to too fast?" when it comes to passenger rail speeds. READ THE ARTICLE HERE


  1. I'm a bit flummoxed by your question, "how fast [is] too fast?". It seems to be a rhetorical question, but I can't tell if the understood answer is supposed to be "no speed is too fast" or rather "consistent average design speeds of 500 km/h and upwards are too fast".

    It frustrates me that the discussion of high speed guided surface transportation in Canada and the US consistently only pays attention to the technologies already in operation in Europe and Japan (and to some extent China), and to the extent that it pays attention to advances in technology, only does so for existing big players, whether Alstom, Bombardier or the Thyssen Krupp/Siemens group's Transrapid maglev.

    The Japanese maglev is not an originally Japanese technology. It is an implementation of superconducting maglev technology first described in 1966 by James Powell and Gordon Danby of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. (Danby is in fact originally from Canada, from my own home town of Richmond, Ontario, and did his BSc at Carleton and his PhD in nuclear physics before moving to the US in search of employment as part of the 1960s Brain Drain.)

    While the Japanese have tested and verified the feasibility of the original version, Powell and Danby have made further innovations that make this kind of superconducting maglev capable of carrying freight at the same ultra-high speeds as passenger vehicles, on the same guideways and without even the possibility of conflict. Simply because of the way it is designed, the second generation of this kind of maglev is inherently the single safest, fastest cleanest, most flexible and adaptable form of ground transportation that has yet been devised. This is a disruptive technology that would allow us to leapfrog everything else that currently exists and quickly shift our transportation system to a more sustainable yet economically even more beneficial model that simply cannot be done with any existing HSR passenger system.

    I really hope people will start giving these people the attention and investment that they deserve. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot not to.

  2. I couldn't agree more, I have no idea why this second generation of Powell/Danby MagLev is not receiving a lot more attention. It would be great if could do a story on this. I believe is referring to this 2nd gen MagLev but it doesn't seem like anything new has come from them in a long time.

    On another note, in regards to MagLev in general, I think many people ignore the lower maintenance costs which could offset the potentially higher initial construction costs (relative to steel wheel high speed rail). In fact, claims that in the UK even the initial construction costs would be dramatically lower for the existing Transrapid MagLev (not to mention the cheaper 2nd gen) in comparison to the Alstom/Bombardier steel wheel high speed that is being pursued at this time by the UK. It seems that governments have lost their minds, unless they are simply afraid of the unknown/less proven with MagLev. Even if 2nd gen is potentially better, but considered unproven, there is no excuse to ignore the established and proven Transrapid or Japanese MagLev systems.


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