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SCMaglev at a test track in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, in November 2005
Transrapid 09 at the Emsland test facility in Germany

Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) is a method of transportation that uses magnetic levitation to carry vehicles with magnets rather than with wheels, axles and bearings. With maglev, a vehicle is levitated a short distance away from a guide way using magnets to create both lift and propulsion.

Maglev trains move more smoothly and somewhat more quietly than wheeled mass transit systems. Their non-reliance on traction and friction means that acceleration and deceleration can surpass that of wheeled transports, and they are unaffected by weather. The power needed for levitation is typically not a large percentage of the overall energy consumption;[1] most of the power is used to overcome air resistance (drag), as with any other high-speed form of transport. Although conventional wheeled transportation can travel very quickly, a maglev system allows routine use of higher top speeds than does conventional rail, and it is this type which holds the speed record for rail transportation. Vacuum tube train systems might hypothetically allow maglev trains to attain speeds in a different order of magnitude. While no such tracks have been built commercially yet, there are efforts being made to study and develop "super-maglev" trains.[2]

Compared to conventional wheeled trains, differences in construction affect the economics of maglev trains. In wheeled trains at very high speeds, the wear and tear from friction along with the hammer effect from wheels on rails accelerates equipment deterioration and prevents mechanically based train systems from routinely achieving higher speeds.[3] Conversely, maglev tracks have historically been found to be much more expensive to construct, but require less maintenance and have lower ongoing costs.

Despite decades of research and development, there are presently only two commercial maglev transport systems in operation, with two others under construction.[note 1] In April 2004, Shanghai began commercial operations of the high-speed Transrapid system. In March 2005, Japan began operation of the relatively low-speed HSST "Linimo" line in time for the 2005 World Expo. In its first three months, the Linimo line carried over 10 million passengers. South Korea and the People's Republic of China are both building low-speed maglev lines of their own design, one in Beijing and the other at Seoul's Incheon Airport. Many maglev projects are controversial, and the technological potential, adoption prospects and economics of maglev systems have often been hotly debated. The Shanghai system has been accused of being a white elephant by critics and opponents.[4]


  • History 1
    • First patent 1.1
    • Development 1.2
    • New York, United States, 1968 1.3
    • Hamburg, Germany, 1979 1.4
    • Birmingham, United Kingdom, 1984–95 1.5
    • Emsland, Germany, 1984–2012 1.6
    • Japan, 1985– 1.7
    • Vancouver, Canada, and Hamburg, Germany, 1986–88 1.8
    • Berlin, Germany, 1989–91 1.9
  • Technology 2
    • Overview 2.1
      • Electromagnetic suspension 2.1.1
      • Electrodynamic suspension 2.1.2
    • Pros and cons of different technologies 2.2
      • Propulsion 2.2.1
      • Stability 2.2.2
      • Guidance 2.2.3
    • Evacuated tubes 2.3
    • Power and energy usage 2.4
    • Comparison with conventional trains 2.5
    • Comparison with aircraft 2.6
  • Economics 3
  • Records 4
    • History of maglev speed records 4.1
  • Existing maglev systems 5
    • Testing tracks 5.1
      • San Diego, USA 5.1.1
      • SCMaglev, Japan 5.1.2
      • FTA's UMTD program 5.1.3
      • Southwest Jiaotong University, China 5.1.4
    • Operational systems serving the public 5.2
      • Shanghai Maglev 5.2.1
      • Linimo (Tobu Kyuryo Line, Japan) 5.2.2
      • Daejeon, South Korea 5.2.3
  • Under construction 6
    • Old Dominion University 6.1
    • AMT test track – Powder Springs, Georgia 6.2
    • Applied Levitation/Fastransit test track – Santa Barbara, California 6.3
    • Beijing S1 line 6.4
    • Incheon Airport maglev 6.5
  • Proposed systems 7
    • Australia 7.1
    • Italy 7.2
    • United Kingdom 7.3
    • United States 7.4
    • Puerto Rico 7.5
    • Germany 7.6
    • Switzerland 7.7
    • Japan 7.8
    • China 7.9
    • India 7.10
    • Malaysia 7.11
    • Iran 7.12
  • Significant incidents 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


First patent

High-speed transportation patents were granted to various inventors throughout the world.[5] Early United States patents for a linear motor propelled train were awarded to the German inventor Alfred Zehden. The inventor was awarded U.S. Patent 782,312 (14 February 1905) and U.S. Patent RE12,700 (21 August 1907).[note 2] In 1907, another early electromagnetic transportation system was developed by F. S. Smith.[6] A series of German patents for magnetic levitation trains propelled by linear motors were awarded to Hermann Kemper between 1937 and 1941.[note 3] An early modern type of maglev train was described in U.S. Patent 3,158,765, Magnetic system of transportation, by G. R. Polgreen (25 August 1959). The first use of "maglev" in a United States patent was in "Magnetic levitation guidance system"[7] by Canadian Patents and Development Limited.


In the late 1940s, the British electrical engineer Eric Laithwaite, a professor at Imperial College London, developed the first full-size working model of the linear induction motor. He became professor of heavy electrical engineering at Imperial College in 1964, where he continued his successful development of the linear motor.[8] As the linear motor does not require physical contact between the vehicle and guideway, it became a common fixture on many advanced transportation systems being developed in the 1960s and 70s. Laithwaite himself joined development of one such project, the tracked hovercraft, although funding for this project was cancelled in 1973.[9]

The linear motor was naturally suited to use with maglev systems as well. In the early 1970s, Laithwaite discovered a new arrangement of magnets, magnetic river, that allowed a single linear motor to produce both lift as well as forward thrust, allowing a maglev system to be built with a single set of magnets. Working at the British Rail Research Division in Derby, along with teams at several civil engineering firms, the "transverse-flux" system was developed into a working system.

The first commercial maglev people mover was simply called "MAGLEV" and officially opened in 1984 near Birmingham, England. It operated on an elevated 600-metre (2,000 ft) section of monorail track between Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham International railway station, running at speeds up to 42 km/h (26 mph); the system was eventually closed in 1995 due to reliability problems.[10]

New York, United States, 1968

In 1968, when he was delayed during rush hour traffic on the Throgs Neck Bridge, James Powell, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), thought of using magnetically levitated transportation to solve the traffic problem.[11] Powell and a BNL colleague, Gordon Danby, jointly worked out a MagLev concept using static magnets mounted on a moving vehicle to induce electrodynamic lifting and stabilizing forces in specially shaped loops on a guideway.[12][13]

Hamburg, Germany, 1979

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

Birmingham, United Kingdom, 1984–95

The Birmingham International Maglev shuttle

The world's first commercial automated maglev system was a low-speed maglev shuttle that ran from the airport terminal of Birmingham International Airport to the nearby Birmingham International railway station between 1984 and 1995.[14] The length of the track was 600 metres (2,000 ft), and trains "flew" at an altitude of 15 millimetres (0.59 in), levitated by electromagnets, and propelled with linear induction motors.[15] It was in operation for nearly eleven years, but obsolescence problems with the electronic systems made it unreliable in its later years. One of the original cars is now on display at Railworld in Peterborough, together with the RTV31 hover train vehicle. Another is on display at the National Railway Museum in York.

Several favourable conditions existed when the link was built:

  • The British Rail Research vehicle was 3 tonnes and extension to the 8 tonne vehicle was easy.
  • Electrical power was easily available.
  • The airport and rail buildings were suitable for terminal platforms.
  • Only one crossing over a public road was required and no steep gradients were involved.
  • Land was owned by the railway or airport.
  • Local industries and councils were supportive.
  • Some government finance was provided and because of sharing work, the cost per organization was low.

After the original system closed in 1995, the original guideway lay dormant.[16] The guideway was reused in 2003 when the replacement cable-hauled AirRail Link Cable Liner people mover was opened.[17][18]

Emsland, Germany, 1984–2012

Transrapid, a German maglev company, had a test track in Emsland with a total length of 31.5 kilometres (19.6 mi). The single-track line ran between Dörpen and Lathen with turning loops at each end. The trains regularly ran at up to 420 kilometres per hour (260 mph). Paying passengers were carried as part of the testing process. The construction of the test facility began in 1980 and finished in 1984. In 2006, the Lathen maglev train accident occurred killing 23 people, found to have been caused by human error in implementing safety checks. From 2006 no passengers were carried, at the end of 2011 the operation licence expired and was not renewed, and in early 2012 permission was given for the demolition of facilities, including the track and factory.[19]

Japan, 1985–

JNR ML500 at a test track in Miyazaki, Japan, on 21 December 1979 travelled at 517 km/h (321 mph), authorized by Guinness World Records.

In Japan, there are two independently developed maglev trains. One is HSST by Japan Airlines and the other, which is more well-known, is SCMaglev by the Central Japan Railway Company.

The development of the latter started in 1969, and Miyazaki test track had regularly hit 517 km/h (321 mph) by 1979 but, after an accident that destroyed the train, a new design was decided upon. In Okazaki, Japan (1987), the SCMaglev took a test ride at the Okazaki exhibition. Tests through the 1980s continued in Miyazaki before transferring a far larger and elaborate test track, 20 km (12 mi) long, in Yamanashi in 1997.

Development of HSST started in 1974, based on technologies introduced from Germany. In Tsukuba, Japan (1985), the HSST-03 (Linimo) wins popularity in spite of being 300 km/h (190 mph) at the Tsukuba World Exposition. In Saitama, Japan (1988), the HSST-04-1 was revealed at the Saitama exhibition performed in Kumagaya. Its fastest recorded speed was 300 km/h (190 mph).[20]

Vancouver, Canada, and Hamburg, Germany, 1986–88

In Vancouver, Canada, the SCMaglev was exhibited at Expo 86. Guests could ride the train along a short section of track at the fairgrounds. In Hamburg, Germany, the TR-07 was exhibited at the international traffic exhibition (IVA88) in 1988.

Berlin, Germany, 1989–91

In West Berlin, the M-Bahn was built in the late 1980s. It was a driverless maglev system with a 1.6 km (0.99 mi) track connecting three stations. Testing with 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 Gleisdreieck U-Bahn station, 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 that was called Pundai project and was completed in February 1992.


In the public imagination, "maglev" often evokes the concept of an elevated monorail track with a linear motor. This can be misleading. While several maglev systems are monorail designs, not all maglevs use monorails,[21] and not all monorail trains use linear motors or magnetic levitation. Some railway transport systems incorporate linear motors but only use electromagnetism for propulsion, without actually levitating the vehicle. Such trains (which might also be monorail trains) are wheeled vehicles and not maglev trains.[note 4] Maglev tracks, monorail or not, can also be constructed at grade (i.e. not elevated). Conversely, non-maglev tracks, monorail or not, can be elevated too. Some maglev trains do incorporate wheels and function like linear motor-propelled wheeled vehicles at slower speeds but "take off" and levitate at higher speeds.[note 5]


MLX01 Maglev train Superconducting magnet Bogie

The term "maglev" refers not only to the vehicles, but to the railway system as well, specifically designed for magnetic levitation and propulsion. 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, these maglev systems must be designed as complete transportation systems. The applied levitation SPM maglev system is inter-operable with steel rail tracks and would permit maglev vehicles and conventional trains to operate at the same time on the same right of way. MAN in Germany also designed a maglev system that worked with conventional rails, but it was never fully developed.[22]

See also SCMaglev#Technology, Transrapid#Technology, Magnetic levitation

There are two particularly notable types of maglev technology:

  • For electromagnetic suspension (EMS), electronically controlled electromagnets in the train attract it to a magnetically conductive (usually steel) track.
  • Electrodynamic suspension (EDS) uses superconducting electromagnets or strong permanent magnets which create a magnetic field that induces currents in nearby metallic conductors when there is relative movement which pushes and pulls the train towards the designed levitation position on the guide way.

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. Other technologies such as repulsive permanent magnets and superconducting magnets have seen some research.

Electromagnetic suspension

Electromagnetic suspension (EMS) on Transrapid.

In current electromagnetic suspension (EMS) systems, the train levitates above a steel rail while electromagnets, attached to the train, are oriented toward the rail from below. The system is typically arranged on a series of C-shaped arms, with the upper portion of the arm attached to the vehicle, and the lower inside edge containing the magnets. The rail is situated between the upper and lower edges.

Magnetic attraction varies inversely with the cube of distance, so minor changes in distance between the magnets and the rail produce greatly varying forces. These changes in force are dynamically unstable – if there is a slight divergence from the optimum position, the tendency will be to exacerbate this, and complex systems of feedback control are required to maintain a train at a constant distance from the track, (approximately 15 millimetres (0.59 in)).[23][24]

The major advantage to suspended maglev systems is that they work at all speeds, unlike electrodynamic systems which only work at a minimum speed of about 30 km/h (19 mph). This eliminates the need for a separate low-speed suspension system, and can simplify the track layout as a result. On the downside, the dynamic instability of the system puts high demands on tolerance control of the track, which can offset, or eliminate this advantage. Laithwaite, highly skeptical of the concept, was concerned that in order to make a track with the required tolerances, the gap between the magnets and rail would have to be increased to the point where the magnets would be unreasonably large.[22] In practice, this problem was addressed through increased performance of the feedback systems, which allow the system to run with close tolerances.

Electrodynamic suspension

SCMaglev EDS suspension is due to the magnetic fields induced either side of the vehicle by the passage of the vehicle's superconducting magnets.
EDS Maglev propulsion via propulsion coils

In electrodynamic suspension (EDS), both the guideway and the train exert a magnetic field, and the train is levitated by the repulsive and attractive force between these magnetic fields.[25] In some configurations, the train can be levitated only by repulsive force. In the early stages of maglev development at the Miyazaki test track, a purely repulsive system was used instead of the later repulsive and attractive EDS system.[26] There is a misconception that the EDS system is purely a repulsive one, but that is not true. The magnetic field in the train is produced by either superconducting magnets (as in JR–Maglev) or by an array of permanent magnets (as in Inductrack). The repulsive and attractive force in the track is created by an induced magnetic field in wires or other conducting strips in the track. A major advantage of the EDS maglev systems is that they are naturally stable – minor narrowing in distance between the track and the magnets creates strong forces to repel the magnets back to their original position, while a slight increase in distance greatly reduces the repulsive force and again returns the vehicle to the right separation.[22] In addition, the attractive force varies in the opposite manner, providing the same adjustment effects. No feedback control is needed.

EDS systems have a major downside as well. 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. Since a train may stop at any location, due to equipment problems for instance, the entire track must be able to support both low- and high-speed operation. Another downside is that the EDS system naturally creates a field in the track in front and to the rear of the lift magnets, which acts against the magnets and creates a form of drag. This is generally only a concern at low speeds (This is one of the reasons why JR abandoned a purely repulsive system and adopted the sidewall levitation system.[26]); at higher speeds the effect does not have time to build to its full potential and other forms of drag dominate.[22]

The drag force can be used to the electrodynamic system's advantage, however, as it creates a varying force in the rails that can be used as a reactionary system to drive the train, without the need for a separate reaction plate, as in most linear motor systems. Laithwaite led development of such "traverse-flux" systems at his Imperial College laboratory.[22] Alternatively, 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 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 creates a force moving the train forward.

Pros and cons of different technologies

Each implementation of the magnetic levitation principle for train-type travel involves advantages and disadvantages.

Technology   Pros   Cons

EMS[27][28] (Electromagnetic suspension) Magnetic fields inside and outside the vehicle are less than EDS; proven, commercially available technology that can attain very high speeds (500 km/h (310 mph)); no wheels or secondary propulsion system needed. 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.

(Electrodynamic suspension)
Onboard magnets and large margin between rail and train enable highest recorded train speeds (581 km/h (361 mph)) and heavy load capacity; has demonstrated (December 2005) successful operations using high-temperature superconductors in its onboard magnets, cooled with inexpensive liquid nitrogen. Strong magnetic fields on board 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.

Inductrack System[31][32] (Permanent Magnet Passive Suspension) 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 (3.1 mph)) 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. Requires either wheels or track segments that move for when the vehicle is stopped. New technology that is still under development (as of 2008) and as yet has no commercial version or full scale system prototype.

Neither Inductrack nor the Superconducting EDS 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 (6.2 mph) speed, using the power from onboard batteries. This is not the case with the HSST and Rotem systems.


Some EMS systems such as HSST/Linimo can provide both levitation and propulsion using an onboard linear motor. But EDS systems and some EMS systems such as Transrapid can only levitate the train using the magnets on board, 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 the cost of propulsion coils could be prohibitive.


Earnshaw's theorem shows that any combination of static magnets cannot be in a stable equilibrium.[33] Therefore a dynamic (time varying) magnetic field is required to achieve stabilization. EMS systems rely on active electronic stabilization which constantly measure the bearing distance and adjust the electromagnet current accordingly. All EDS systems rely on changing magnetic fields creating electrical currents, and these can give passive stability.

Because maglev vehicles essentially fly, stabilisation of pitch, roll and yaw is required by magnetic technology. In addition to rotation, surge (forward and backward motions), sway (sideways motion) or heave (up and down motions) can be problematic with some technologies.

If superconducting magnets are used on a train above a track made out of a permanent magnet, then the train would be locked into its lateral position on the track. It can move linearly along the track, but not off the track. This is due to the Meissner effect and flux pinning.


Some systems use Null Current systems (also sometimes called Null Flux systems);[25][34] these use a coil which is wound so that it enters two opposing, alternating fields, so that the average flux in the loop is zero. When the vehicle is in the straight ahead position, no current flows, but if it moves off-line this creates a changing flux that generates a field that naturally pushes and pulls it back into line.

Evacuated tubes

Some systems (notably the Swissmetro system) propose the use of vactrains—maglev train technology used in evacuated (airless) tubes, which removes air drag. This has the potential to increase speed and efficiency greatly, as most of the energy for conventional maglev trains is lost to aerodynamic drag.[35]

One potential risk for passengers of trains operating in evacuated tubes is that they could be exposed to the risk of cabin depressurization unless tunnel safety monitoring systems can repressurize the tube in the event of a train malfunction or accident though since trains are likely to operated at or near the surface of a planet such as the Earth, emergency restoration of normal ambient pressure will pose no special challenge. The RAND Corporation has depicted a vacuum tube train that could, in theory, cross the Atlantic or the USA in ~21 minutes.[36]

Power and energy usage

Energy for maglev trains is used to accelerate the train, and may be regained when the train slows down ("regenerative braking"). It is also used to make the train levitate and to stabilise the movement of the train. The main part of the energy is needed to force the train through the air ("air drag"). Also some energy is used for air conditioning, heating, lighting and other miscellaneous systems.

At low speeds the percentage of power (energy per time) used for levitation can be significant consuming up to 15% more power than a subway or light rail service.[37] Also for very short distances the energy used for acceleration might be considerable.

But the power used to overcome air drag increases with the cube of the velocity, and hence dominates at high speed (note: the energy needed per mile increases by the square of the velocity and the time decreases linearly.) For example, it takes about two and half times as much power to travel at 400 km/h than 300 km/h.[38]

Comparison with conventional trains

Maglev transport is non-contact, electric powered. It does not rely on the wheels, bearings and axles common to mechanical friction-reliant rail systems.[39]

  • Speeds Maglev allows higher top speeds than conventional rail, but at least experimentally, wheel-based high-speed trains have been able to demonstrate similar speeds.
  • Maintenance requirements of electronic versus mechanical systems: Maglev trains currently in operation have demonstrated the need for nearly insignificant guideway maintenance. Their electronic vehicle maintenance is minimal and more closely aligned with aircraft maintenance schedules based on hours of operation, rather than on speed or distance traveled. Traditional rail is subject to the wear and tear of miles of friction on mechanical systems and increases exponentially with speed, unlike maglev systems. The running costs difference is a cost advantage of maglev over rail and also directly affects system reliability, availability and sustainability.[39]
  • All-weather operations: While maglev trains currently in operation are not stopped, slowed, or have their schedules affected by snow, ice, severe cold, rain or high winds, they have not been operated in the wide range of conditions that traditional friction-based rail systems have operated. Maglev vehicles accelerate and decelerate faster than mechanical systems regardless of the slickness of the guideway or the slope of the grade because they are non-contact systems.[39]
  • Backwards compatibility: Maglev trains currently in operation are not compatible with conventional track, and therefore require all new infrastructure for their entire route, but this is not a negative if high levels of reliability and low operational costs are the goal. By contrast conventional high-speed trains such as the TGV are able to run at reduced speeds on existing rail infrastructure, thus reducing expenditure where new infrastructure would be particularly expensive (such as the final approaches to city terminals), or on extensions where traffic does not justify new infrastructure. However, this "shared track approach" ignores mechanical rail's high maintenance requirements, costs and disruptions to travel from periodic maintenance on these existing lines. It is claimed by maglev advocates most notably, Dr. John Harding, former chief maglev scientist at the Federal Railroad Administration that the use of a completely separate maglev infrastructure more than pays for itself with dramatically higher levels of all-weather operational reliability and almost insignificant maintenance costs, but these claims have yet to be proven in an operational setting as intense as many traditional rail operations, and ignore the difference in maglev and traditional rail initial construction costs. So, maglev advocates would argue against rail backward compatibility and its concomitant high maintenance needs and costs.
  • Weight: The weight of the electromagnets in many EMS and EDS designs seems like a major design issue to the uninitiated. A strong magnetic field is required to levitate a maglev vehicle. For the Transrapid, this is between 1 and 2 kilowatts per ton.[41] Another path for levitation is the use of superconductor magnets to reduce the energy consumption of the electromagnets, and the cost of maintaining the field. However, a 50-ton Transrapid maglev vehicle can lift an additional 20 tons, for a total of 70 tons, which consumes between 70 and 140 kW. Most energy use for the TRI is for propulsion and overcoming the friction of air resistance at speeds over 100 mph.
  • Weight loading: High Speed Locomotives requires more support and construction for its concentrated wheel loading. Maglevs on the other hand is not only lighter than its conventional counterparts, its weight is also more evenly distributed.[42]
  • Noise: Because the major source of noise of a maglev train comes from displaced air, maglev trains produce less noise than a conventional train at equivalent speeds. However, the psychoacoustic profile of the maglev may reduce this benefit: a study concluded that maglev noise should be rated like road traffic while conventional trains have a 5–10 dB "bonus" as they are found less annoying at the same loudness level.[43][44][45]
  • Design comparisons: Braking and overhead wire wear have caused problems for the Fastech 360 railed Shinkansen. Maglev would eliminate these issues. Magnet reliability at higher temperatures is a countervailing comparative disadvantage (see suspension types), but new alloys and manufacturing techniques have resulted in magnets that maintain their levitational force at higher temperatures.
  • Control systems: There are no signalling systems for high or low speed maglev systems. There is no need since all these systems are computer controlled. Besides, at the extremely high speeds of these systems, no human operator could react fast enough to slow down or stop in time. This is also why these systems require dedicated rights of way and are usually proposed to be elevated several metres above ground level. Two maglev system microwave towers are in contact with an EMS vehicle at all times for two-way communication between the vehicle and the central command centre's main operations computer. There are no need for train whistles or horns, either.
  • Lower gradient: Maglevs are able to ascend higher grades as compared with its conventional counterparts, it means less tunneling through mountains and ability to achieve more direct routing.[42]

Comparison with aircraft

Although Maglev and aircraft both are very similar in operation, there are some significant differences:

  • Efficiency: For many systems, it is possible to define a lift-to-drag ratio. For maglev systems these ratios can exceed that of aircraft (for example Inductrack can approach 200:1 at high speed, far higher than any aircraft). This can make maglev more efficient per kilometer. However, at high cruising speeds, aerodynamic drag is much larger than lift-induced drag. Jet transport aircraft take advantage of low air density at high altitudes to significantly reduce drag during cruise, hence despite their lift-to-drag ratio disadvantage, they can travel more efficiently at high speeds than maglev trains that operate at sea level (this has been proposed to be fixed by the vactrain concept).
  • Flexibility & reliability: While aircraft are theoretically more flexible, commercial air routes are not. High-speed maglevs are designed to compete on journey times with flights of 800 kilometres (500 miles) or less. Additionally, while maglevs can serve several cities in between such routes and be on time in all weather conditions, airlines cannot come close to such reliability or performance.
  • Cost of travel: Because maglev vehicles are powered by electricity and do not carry fuel, maglev fares are less susceptible to the volatile price swings created by oil markets. Travelling via maglev also offers a significant safety margin over air travel since maglevs are designed not to crash into other maglevs or leave their guideways.[46][47][48] Aircraft fuel is a significant danger during takeoff and landing accidents.
  • Travel time: In real-world situations the speed of maglev are less than aircraft, but maglev still save time due to minimal hassles it takes to travel in them as compared to air travel. With air travel, people need to spend time at airports for check-in, security, boarding, etc. In air travel, time is also consumed (primarily in busy airports) by the aircraft for taxing, waiting in queue for take-off and landing, which are negligible in case of maglev.


The Shanghai maglev demonstration line cost US$1.2 billion to build.[49] This total includes infrastructure capital costs such as right-of-way clearing, extensive pile driving, on-site guideway manufacturing, in-situ pier construction every 25 metres, a maintenance facility and vehicle yard, several switches, two stations, operations and control systems, power feed system, cables and inverters, and operational training. Ridership is not a primary focus of this demonstration line, since the Longyang Road station is on the eastern outskirts of Shanghai. Once the line is extended to South Shanghai Train station and Hongqiao Airport station, ridership will be ample enough for the SMT to not only cover operation and maintenance costs, which it already does with its demonstration leg, but it will be able to generate significant revenue.

When the SMT in Shanghai begins to extend its line to South Shanghai Train Station, its goal is to limit the cost of future construction to approximately US$18 million per kilometre. They are confident about this since the German government, in 2006, put $125 million into guideway cost reduction development, which resulted in an all-concrete modular guideway design that is faster to build and is more than 30% less costly than what was used in Shanghai. In addition, new construction techniques were also developed that now put maglev at price parity with new high-speed rail construction, or even less.[50]

The United States Federal Railroad Administration 2003 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed Baltimore-Washington Maglev project gives an estimated 2008 capital costs of US$4.361 billion for 39.1 miles (62.9 km), or US$111.5 million per mile (US$69.3 million per kilometre). The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) conducted their own Environmental Impact Statement, and put the pricetag at US$4.9 billion for construction, and $53 million a year for operations.[51]

The proposed Chuo 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 the 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 or 62 mph) currently operational, the Japanese Linimo HSST, cost approximately US$100 million/km to build.[52] Besides offering improved operation and maintenance costs over other transit systems, these low-speed maglevs provide ultra-high levels of operational reliability and introduce little noiseand zero air pollution into dense urban settings.

As maglev systems are deployed around the world, experts[53] expect construction costs to drop as new construction methods are innovated along with economies of scale.


The highest recorded speed of a maglev train is 581 km/h (361 mph), achieved in Japan by JR Central's MLX01 superconducting maglev in 2003,[54][55] 6 km/h (3.7 mph) faster than the conventional TGV wheel-rail speed record. However, the operational and performance differences between these two very different technologies is far greater than a mere 6 km/h (3.7 mph) of speed. For example, the TGV record was achieved accelerating down a 72.4 km (45.0 mi) slight decline, requiring 13 minutes. It then took another 77.25 km (48.00 mi) for the TGV to stop, requiring a total distance of 149.65 km (92.99 mi) for the test.[56] The MLX01 record, however, was achieved on the 18.4 km (11.4 mi) Yamanashi test track – 1/8 the distance needed for the TGV test. While it is claimed high-speed maglevs can actually operate commercially at these speeds while wheel-rail trains cannot, and do so without the burden and expense of extensive maintenance, no maglev or wheel-rail commercial operation has actually been attempted at these speeds over 500 km/h.

History of maglev speed records

Year Country Train Speed Notes
1971  West Germany Prinzipfahrzeug 90 km/h (56 mph)
1971  West Germany TR-02 (TSST) 164 km/h (102 mph)
1972  Japan ML100 60 km/h (37 mph) Manned
1973  West Germany TR04 250 km/h (160 mph) Manned
1974  West Germany EET-01 230 km/h (140 mph) Unmanned
1975  West Germany Komet 401 km/h (249 mph) by steam rocket propulsion, unmanned
1978  Japan HSST-01 308 km/h (191 mph) by supporting rockets propulsion, made in Nissan, unmanned
1978  Japan HSST-02 110 km/h (68 mph) Manned
1979-12-12  Japan ML-500R 504 km/h (313 mph) (unmanned) It succeeds in operation over 500 km/h for the first time in the world.
1979-12-21  Japan ML-500R 517 km/h (321 mph) (unmanned)
1987  West Germany TR-06 406 km/h (252 mph) (manned)
1987  Japan MLU001 401 km/h (249 mph) (manned)
1988  West Germany TR-06 413 km/h (257 mph) (manned)
1989  West Germany TR-07 436 km/h (271 mph) (manned)
1993  Germany TR-07 450 km/h (280 mph) (manned)
1994  Japan MLU002N 431 km/h (268 mph) (unmanned)
1997  Japan MLX01 531 km/h (330 mph) (manned)
1997  Japan MLX01 550 km/h (340 mph) (unmanned)
1999  Japan MLX01 552 km/h (343 mph) (manned/five-car formation). Guinness authorization.
2003  China Transrapid SMT (built in Germany) 501 km/h (311 mph) (manned/three formation)
2003  China Transrapid SMT 476 km/h (296 mph) (unmanned)
2003  Japan MLX01 581 km/h (361 mph) (manned/three formation). Guinness authorization.[57]

Existing maglev systems

Testing tracks

San Diego, USA

General Atomics has a 120-metre test facility in San Diego, which is being used as the basis of Union Pacific's 8 km (5.0 mi) freight shuttle in Los Angeles. The technology is "passive" (or "permanent"), using permanent magnets in a halbach array for lift, and requiring no electromagnets for either levitation or propulsion. General Atomics has received US$90 million in research funding from the federal government. They are also looking to apply their technology to high-speed passenger services.[58]

SCMaglev, Japan

Japan has a demonstration line in Yamanashi prefecture where test trains SCMaglev MLX01 have reached 581 km/h (361 mph), slightly faster than any wheeled trains. (The current TGV speed record is 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph).)

These trains use superconducting magnets which allow for a larger gap, and repulsive/attractive-type electrodynamic suspension (EDS).[25][59] In comparison Transrapid uses conventional electromagnets and attractive-type electromagnetic 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 (361 mph) on 2 December 2003.[55][60]

On 15th Novemebr 2014, The Central Japan Railway Company ran eight days of testing for the experimental maglev Shinkansen train on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. One hundred passengers whizzed along a 42.8 km (27-mile) route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of up to 500 km/h (311 mph).[61]

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 31 December 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 (1,170 lb) and the levitation gap over 20 mm (0.79 in). The system uses liquid nitrogen, which is very cheap, to cool the superconductor.[62]

Operational systems serving the public

Shanghai Maglev

A maglev train coming out of the Pudong International Airport

In January 2001, the Chinese signed an agreement with the German maglev consortium Transrapid to build an EMS high-speed maglev line to link Pudong International Airport with Longyang Road Metro station on the eastern edge of Shanghai. This Shanghai Maglev Train demonstration line, or Initial Operating Segment (IOS), has been in commercial operations since April 2004[63] and now operates 115 (up from 110 daily trips in 2010) daily trips that traverse the 30 km (19 mi) between the two stations in just 7 minutes, achieving a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph), averaging 266 km/h (165 mph).[64] On a 12 November 2003 system commissioning test run, the Shanghai maglev achieved a speed of 501 km/h (311 mph), which is its designed top cruising speed for longer intercity routes. Unlike the old Birmingham maglev technology, the Shanghai maglev is extremely fast and comes with on time – to the second – reliability of greater than 99.97%.[65]

Plans to extend the line to Shanghai South Railway Station and Hongqiao Airport on the western edge of Shanghai have been put on hold. After the Shanghai–Hangzhou Passenger Railway has become operational in late 2010, the maglev extension has become somewhat redundant and may be canceled.

Linimo (Tobu Kyuryo Line, Japan)

Linimo train approaching Banpaku Kinen Koen, towards Fujigaoka Station in March 2005

The commercial automated "Urban Maglev" system commenced operation in March 2005 in Aichi, Japan. This is the nine-station 9 km (5.6 mi) long Tobu-kyuryo Line, otherwise known as the Linimo. The line has a minimum operating radius of 75 m (246 ft) and a maximum gradient of 6%. The linear-motor magnetically levitated train has a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). More than 10 million passengers used this "urban maglev" line in its first three months of operation. At 100 km/h (62 mph), this urban transit technology is sufficiently fast for frequent stops, has little or no noise impact on surrounding communities, can fit into tight turn radii rights of way, and will operate reliably during most inclement weather conditions. The trains were designed by the Chubu HSST Development Corporation, which also operates a test track in Nagoya.[66]

Daejeon, South Korea

A maglev train in Daejeon

The first maglev using electromagnetic suspension opened to public was HML-03, made by Hyundai Heavy Industries for the Daejeon Expo in 1993, after five years of research and manufacturing two prototypes, HML-01 and HML-02.[67][68][69] Research for urban maglev using electromagnetic suspension began in 1994 by the government.[69] The first urban maglev opened to public was UTM-02 in Daejeon on 21 April 2008 after 14 years of development and building one prototype; UTM-01. The urban maglev runs on a 1 km (0.62 mi) track between Expo Park and National Science Museum.[70][71] Meanwhile UTM-02 remarked an innovation by conducting the world's first ever maglev simulation.[72][73] However UTM-02 is still the second prototype of a final model. The final UTM model of Rotem's urban maglev, UTM-03, is scheduled to debut at the end of 2014 in Incheon's Yeongjong island where Incheon International Airport is located.[74]

Under construction

Old Dominion University

In 1999, Old Dominion University in Virginia, USA, agreed to work with American Maglev Technogies of Atlanta to construct an on-campus student transportation link of less than one mile – using a smart train / dumb track design in which most sensors, magnets, and computation were located on the train rather than the track.[75] With cost and safety concern, several other institutes of higher learning rejected the project. While projected to cost less to build per mile than existing systems, the ODU maglev was never operational. After depleting its $14 million budget, a groundbreaking was held in 2001, the project was completed in 2002; and the technology failed: the vehicle lost its "float" and come to a full friction stop on top of the rail, damaging much of the system. American Maglev and ODU dissolved their relationship and the project became an internal university research project.[76][77][78] In October 2006, the research team performed an unscheduled test of the car that went smoothly. The system was subsequently removed from the power grid for nearby construction.[79] In February 2009, the team retested the sled and was successful despite power outages on campus. ODU subsequently partnered with a Massachusetts-based company to test another maglev train. MagneMotion Inc. was expected to bring its prototype maglev vehicle, about the size of a van, to the campus to test in 2010.[80]

AMT test track – Powder Springs, Georgia

The same principle is involved in the construction of a second prototype system in Powder Springs, Georgia, USA, by American Maglev Technology, Inc. The test track is 2,000' long with a 550' curve. Vehicles are operated up to 37 mph which is below the proposed operational maximum of 60 mph. A June 2013 review of the technology called for an extensive testing program to be carried out to ensure the system complies with various regulatory requirements including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) APM Standard. The review noted that the test track is too short to assess the vehicles dynamics at the maximum proposed speeds.[81]

Applied Levitation/Fastransit test track – Santa Barbara, California

Applied Levitation, Inc. has built a levitating prototype on a short indoor track, and is now planning a quarter-mile outdoor track, with switches, in or near Santa Barbara.

Beijing S1 line

The Beijing municipal government is building China's first low-speed maglev line, the Line S1, BCR, using technology developed by Defense Technology University. This is the 10.2 km (6.3 mi) long S1-West commuter rail line, which, together with seven other conventional lines, saw construction begin on 28 February 2011. The top speed will be 105 km/h (65 mph). This project is scheduled to be completed in 2015.[82]

Incheon Airport maglev

At Incheon Airport, South Korea directly above Incheon International Airport Station is the upcoming Incheon Airport Maglev. When the first of three planned phases opens it will be 6.1 kilometres (3.8 mi) long, with six stations and a 110 km/h (68 mph) operating speed. Opening is set for 30 September 2014.

Proposed systems

Many maglev systems have been proposed in various nations of North America, Asia, and Europe.[83] Many are still in the early planning stages, or even mere speculation, as with the transatlantic tunnel. But a few of the following examples have progressed beyond that point.


Sydney-Illawarra maglev proposal

There is a current proposal for a maglev route between Sydney and Wollongong.[84]

The proposal came to prominence in the mid-1990s. The Sydney–Wollongong commuter corridor is the largest in Australia, with upwards of 20,000 people commuting from the Illawarra to Sydney for work each day. Current trains crawl along the dated Illawarra line, between the cliff face of the Illawarra escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, with travel times about two hours between Wollongong Station and Central. The proposed maglev would cut travel times to 20 minutes.

Melbourne maglev proposal
The proposed Melbourne maglev connecting the city of Geelong through Metropolitan Melbourne's outer suburban growth corridors, Tullamarine and Avalon domestic in and international terminals in under 20 mins and on to Frankston, Victoria, in under 30 minutes

In late 2008, a proposal was put forward to the Government of Victoria to build a privately funded and operated maglev line to service the Greater Melbourne metropolitan area in response to the Eddington Transport Report which neglected to investigate above ground transport options.[85][86] The maglev would service a population of over 4 million and the proposal was costed at A$8 billion.

However despite relentless road congestion and the highest roadspace per capita in Australia, the government quickly dismissed the proposal in favour of road expansion including an A$8.5 billion road tunnel, $6 billion extension of the Eastlink to the Western Ring Road and a $700 million Frankston Bypass.


A first proposal for the construction of a maglev line was formalized on April 2008, in Brescia, by Executive Intelligence Review journalist Andrew Spannaus, who pointed at the EXPO 2015 to be held in Milan as an opportunity to initiate an infrastructural revolution in Lombardy, to be extended to Italy, through a first high speed connection between Malpensa airport to the cities of Milan, Bergamo and Brescia.[87]

On March 2011 Nicola Oliva, a member of the City Council of Prato, proposed to Andrea Rossi, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany, to build a maglev connection between Pisa airport and the cities of Prato and Florence (Santa Maria Novella train station and Florence Airport).[88][89] The travelling time would be reduced from the typical hour and a quarter to around twenty minutes.[90] The second part of the project would be the construction of a connection to Livorno, capable to bring about a new logistical area of integration of maritime, aerial and terrestrial transport systems, of great strategic importance for Tuscany.[91][92]

United Kingdom

London – Glasgow: A maglev line, described in a 2006 factbook,[93] was 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.[94] But the technology was rejected for future planning in the Government White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway published on 24 July 2007.[95] Another high-speed link is being planned between Glasgow and Edinburgh but there is no settled technology for it.[96][97][98]

United States

Union Pacific freight conveyor: Plans are under way by American rail road operator Union Pacific to build a 7.9 km (4.9 mi) container shuttle between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with UP's intermodal container transfer facility. The system would be based on "passive" technology, especially well suited to freight transfer as no power is needed on board, simply a chassis which glides to its destination. The system is being designed by General Atomics.[58]

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.[99] 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 San Bernardino 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 (40 mi) project has been proposed linking Camden Yards in Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport to Union Station in Washington, D.C.[100] It is said to be 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 US$90 million federal grant. The purpose of the project is to see if the maglev system can function properly in a U.S. city environment.[101]

San Diego-Imperial County airport: In 2006 San Diego commissioned a study for a maglev line to a proposed airport located in Imperial County. SANDAG says that the concept would be an "airports without terminals", allowing passengers to check in at a terminal in San Diego ("satellite terminals") and take the maglev to Imperial airport and board the airplane there as if they went directly through the terminal in the Imperial location. In addition, the maglev would have the potential to carry high priority freight. Further studies have been requested although no funding has yet been agreed.[102]

Orlando International Airport to Orange County Convention Center: In December 2012 the Florida Department of Transportation gave conditional approval to a proposal by American Maglev to build a privately run 14.9-mile, 5 station line from the Orlando International Airport to the Orange County Convention Center. The Department requested a technical assessment of the technology and said there would be a "request for proposals" issued to see if there are any competing plans. The route requires the use of a public right of way.[103] If the first phase is successful American Maglev would propose extensions in two further phases (4.9 miles and 19.4 miles) to carry the line to Walt Disney World.[104]

Puerto Rico

San JuanCaguas: A 16.7-mile (26.8 km) maglev project has been proposed linking Tren Urbano's Cupey Station in San Juan with two proposed stations to be built in the city of Caguas, south of San Juan. The maglev line would run along Highway PR-52, connecting both cities. According to American Maglev Technology (AMT), which is the company in charge of the construction of this train, the cost of the project is approximately US$380 million for one track connecting both cities.[105][106][107]


On 25 September 2007, Bavaria announced it would build a high-speed maglev-rail service from the city of Munich to its airport. The Bavarian government signed contracts with Deutsche Bahn and Transrapid with Siemens and ThyssenKrupp for the €1.85 billion project.[108]

On 27 March 2008, the German Transport minister announced the project had been cancelled due to rising costs associated with constructing the track. A new estimate put the project between €3.2–3.4 billion.[109]


SwissRapide: The SwissRapide AG together with the SwissRapide Consortium is planning and developing the first maglev monorail system for intercity traffic between major cities in the country. The SwissRapide Express is an innovative solution for the coming transportation challenges in Switzerland. As pioneer for large infrastructure projects, SwissRapide is to be financed to 100% by private investors. In the long-term, the SwissRapide Express is to connect the major cities north of the Alps between Geneva and St. Gallen, including Lucerne and Basel. The first projects currently in planning are BernZurich, Lausanne – Geneva as well as Zurich – Winterthur. The first line (Lausanne – Geneva or Zurich – Winterthur) could go into service as early as 2020.[110][111]

EPFL in Lausanne.[112]


Tokyo – Nagoya – Osaka

Proposed Chūō Shinkansen route (thin broken orange line) and existing Tōkaidō Shinkansen route (bold solid orange line)
The 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 using 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 500 km/h (310 mph).[113] In April 2007, JR Central President Masayuki Matsumoto said that JR Central aims to begin commercial maglev service between Tokyo and Nagoya in the year 2025 with the full track between Tokyo and Osaka finalized in 2045.[114][115]


Shanghai – Hangzhou
China is planning to extend the existing Shanghai Maglev Train,[116] initially by some 35 kilometres to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and then 200 kilometres to the city of Hangzhou (Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train). If built, this would be the first inter-city maglev rail line in commercial service.

The project has been controversial and repeatedly delayed. In May 2007 the project was suspended by officials, reportedly due to public concerns about radiation from the maglev system.[117] In January and February 2008 hundreds of residents demonstrated in downtown Shanghai against the line being built too close to their homes, citing concerns about sickness due to exposure to the strong magnetic field, noise, pollution and devaluation of property near to the lines.[118][119] Final approval to build the line was granted on 18 August 2008. Originally scheduled to be ready by Expo 2010,[120] current plans call for completion by 2014. The Shanghai municipal government has considered multiple options, including building the line underground to allay the public's fear of electromagnetic pollution. This same report states that the final decision has to be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.[121]

The Shanghai municipal government may also build a factory in Nanhui district to produce low-speed maglev trains for urban use.[122]

The Hunan provincial government has plans to construct a maglev line between Changsha Huanghua International Airport and Changsha South Railway Station. Construction work is expected to start in May 2014, and to be completed by the end of 2015.[123]


Mumbai – Delhi
A maglev line project was presented to the Indian railway minister (Mamta Banerjee) by an American company. A line was proposed to serve between the cities of Mumbai and Delhi, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that if the line project is successful the Indian government would build lines between other cities and also between Mumbai Central and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.[124]
Mumbai – Nagpur
The State of Maharashtra has also approved a feasibility study for a maglev train between Mumbai (the commercial capital of India as well as the State government capital) and Nagpur (the second State capital) about 1,000 km (620 mi) away. It plans to connect the regions of Mumbai and Pune with Nagpur via less developed hinterland (via Ahmednagar, Beed, Latur, Nanded and Yavatmal).[125]
Chennai – Bangalore – Mysore
Large and Medium Scale Industries Minister of Karnataka Mr. Murugesh Nirani, a detailed report will be prepared and submitted by December 2012 and the project is expected to cost $26 million per kilometre of railway track. The speed of Maglev will be 350 km/h and will take 1hr 30 mins from Chennai to Mysore via Bangalore.[126]
Delhi – Chennai
Study of Delhi-Chennai Corridor is finalised. To be second longest route of more than after completion


A Consortium led by UEM Group Bhd and ARA Group, has proposed to use Maglev technology linking across cities in Malaysia to Singapore. This will be a boost to business to compete against neighbouring country, Singapore. The idea first mooted by the YTL Group. Its technology partner then was said to be Germany's Siemens, but proposal however did not get the green light, due in part to the high costs involved. But the concept of a high-speed rail link from KL to Singapore recently surfaced again. It was cited as a proposed "high impact" project in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that was unveiled in 2010.

The line would be connected from PenangKuala Lumpur – Singapore. It would take about 90 minutes from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.


In May 2009, Iran and a German company signed an agreement on using maglev trains to link the cities of Tehran and Mashhad. The agreement was signed at the Mashhad International Fair site between Iranian Ministry of Roads and Transportation and the German company. Maglev trains can reduce the 900 km (560 mi) travel time between Tehran and Mashhad to about 2.5 hours.[127] Munich-based Schlegel Consulting Engineers said they had signed the contract with the Iranian ministry of transport and the governor of Mashad. "We have been mandated to lead a German consortium in this project," a spokesman said. "We are in a preparatory phase." The next step will be assemble a consortium, a process that is expected to take place "in the coming months," the spokesman said. The project could be worth between 10 billion and 12 billion euros, the Schlegel spokesman said.

Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, the developers of a high-speed maglev train called the Transrapid, both said they were unaware of the proposal. The Schlegel spokesman said Siemens and ThyssenKrupp were currently "not involved." in the consortium[128]

Significant incidents

There have been two incidents involving fires. The Japanese test train in Miyazaki, MLU002, was completely consumed in a fire in 1991.[129] As a result of the fire, political opposition in Japan claimed maglev was a waste of public money.

On 11 August 2006, a fire broke out on the commercial Shanghai Transrapid shortly after arriving at the Longyang terminal. People were quickly evacuated without incident before the vehicle was moved down line about 1 kilometre to avoid smoke filling the station. NAMTI officials toured the SMT maintenance facility in November 2010 and learned that the cause of the battery fire was "thermal runaway" in one of the battery trays. As a result of these findings, SMT secured a new battery vendor, installed new temperature sensors and insulators, and redesigned the battery trays to prevent a re-occurrence of the event.

On 22 September 2006, a Transrapid train collided with a maintenance vehicle on a test/publicity run in Lathen (Lower Saxony / north-western Germany).[130][131] Twenty-three people were killed and ten were injured; these were the first fatalities resulting from an accident on a maglev system. The accident was caused by human error; charges were brought against three Transrapid employees after a year-long investigation.[132]

See also


  1. ^ This does not include the Yamanashi Test Track, on which a paid public service is to commence in 2013, and which is planned to be extended into the Chūō Shinkansen.
  2. ^ Zehden describes a geometry in which the linear motor is used below a steel beam, giving partial levitation of the vehicle. These patents were later cited by Electromagnetic apparatus generating a gliding magnetic field by Jean Candelas (U.S. Patent 4,131,813), Air cushion supported, omnidirectionally steerable, traveling 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)
  3. ^ These German patents would be GR643316 (1937), GR44302 (1938), GR707032 (1941).
  4. ^ This is the case with the Moscow Monorail – currently the only non-maglev linear motor-propelled monorail train in active service.
  5. ^ This is typically the case with electrodynamic suspension maglev trains. Aerodynamic factors may also play a role in the levitation of such trains. Where that is the case, it might be argued that they are technically hybrid systems insofar as their levitation isn't purely magnetic – but their linear motors are electromagnetic systems, and these achieve the higher speeds at which the aerodynamic factors come into play.


  1. ^ Transrapid uses more power for air conditioning
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  5. ^ U.S. Patent 3,736,880, 21 January 1972. Page 10 Column 1 Line 15 to Page 10 Column 2 Line 25.
  6. ^ U.S. Patent 859,018, 2 July 1907.
  7. ^ U.S. Patent 3,858,521; 26 March 1973.
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Further reading

  • Heller, Arnie (June 1998). "A New Approach for Magnetically Levitating Trains—and Rockets". Science & Technology Review. 
  • Hood, Christopher P. (2006). Shinkansen – From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. Routledge.  
  • Moon, Francis C. (1994). Superconducting Levitation Applications to Bearings and Magnetic Transportation. Wiley-VCH.  
  • Rossberg, Ralf Roman (1983). Radlos in die Zukunft? Die Entwicklung neuer Bahnsysteme. Orell Füssli Verlag.  
  • Rossberg, Ralf Roman (1993). Radlos in die Zukunft? Die Entwicklung neuer Bahnsysteme. Orell Fuessli Verlag.  
  • Simmons, Jack; Biddle, Gordon (1997). The Oxford Companion to British Railway History: From 1603 to the 1990s. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 303.  

External links

  • Maglev2000
  • North American Maglev Transport Institute
  • International Maglev Charter & Petition
  • Urban Maglev
  • Windana Research
  • United States Federal Railroad Administration
  • US MagneticGlide
  • Information note on US maglev
  • Longer information note on US maglev
  • America Needs a National Magnetic Levitated Network James Jordan
  • The International Maglev Board Maglev professional's info plattform for all maglev transport systems and related technologies.
  • Applied Levitation
  • Fastransit
  • Maglev Net – Maglev News & Information
  • Transrapid
  • The UK Ultraspeed Project
  • Japanese Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI)
  • Magnetic Levitation at DMOZ
  • AMLEV MDS System
  • Magnetic Levitation for Transportation
  • News of Brazil's Maglev project (in Portuguese)
  • Maglev Trains Audio slideshow from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory discusses magnetic levitation, the Meissner Effect, magnetic flux trapping and superconductivity
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