Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation), is a system of transportation that uses magnetic levitation to suspend, guide and propel vehicles from magnets rather than using mechanical methods, such as friction-reliant wheels, axles and bearings. Maglev transport is a means of flying a vehicle or object along a guideway by using magnets to create both lift and thrust, only a few inches above the guideway surface. High-speed maglev vehicles are lifted off their guideway and thus move more smoothly, quietly and require less maintenance than wheeled mass transit systems – regardless of speed.
A Maglev transport system has the following advantages over conventional ones:
1) minimal resistance to motion which allows the use of higher gradients and sharper curves;
2) no contact vibration which results in less noise and minimum maintenance requirements;
3) high degree of reliability and safety even at relatively high speeds (up to 500 kph only, since aerodynamic issues emerge beyond this limit)
4) no need for a catenary since power is supplied directly to the guideway.
There are advantages and also disadvantages of this system. One advantage is the very low maintance cost, and the low energy consumption compared to the conventional railways.
A disadvantage is the high cost of the construction. In most cases, the Maglev trains needs completely new guides, which are only, can be used by maglev trains, and nothing can cross these lines, so the path should be selected and planned well.
There is a developing technology, where existing railways can be used with a bit of reconstruction: additional maglev rails need to be built next to the existing ones.
A personal report:
“The experience is quite impressive. When the train reaches speed higher of 300 km/h, the image out of the window, especially the cars on the nearby highway become a little bit blur and my eyes cannot catch them. It is absolutely impossible to recognize how many people on board on each car. It is quite interesting visual experience.”
What do you think about this system?
Could it be a real solution for energy saving transportation?
Could it replace the existing railways, both personal and cargo lines?