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Last week, it has been announced by Japan Railways’ Operator JR that Maglev, the train which works with the technology of magnetic elevation, has reached 603 km/hr, according to the test results conducted. This exceeds the previous record of 590 km/h. The levitation technology is based on the principle of magnetic repulsion between the track and the cars. The Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) and the company’s Railway Technical Research Institute developed the system since many years. In Europe, some doubts subsist in the railway industry. It is hard to say how effective this technology will be optimal outside specific cases, say some engineers. The expected target by Japan about the Maglev would change this idea.
The name maglev is derived from MAGnetic LEVitation. Magnetic levitation is a highly advanced technology, and which relates to many industrial applications. The common point in all applications is the lack of contact and therefore a universe without wear nor friction. This increases efficiency, reduces maintenance costs, and increases the useful life of the system. The magnetic levitation technology can be used as an efficient technology in the various industries, including railways.
The German maglev company named Transrapid, had a test track in Emsland with a length of 31.5 kilometres. 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. Passengers were carried as part of the testing process. The construction of the test facility began in 1979 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 after what no passengers were carried. At the end of 2011 the operation licence expired and was not renewed, and in early 2012 demolition permission was given for its facilities, including the track and factory. No other test tracks are expected in Europe in the coming years.
We can find the first real Maglev in commercial operation in Asia, especially in China. Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT) operats between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road Metro Station. With the technological cooperation from Germany, the world’s first commercial magnetic levitation line was operated on Apr 1, 2003, the designed maximum operating speed of 430 km/h is near the flight speed, and the actual operating speed is about 300 km/h, the whole 30 km trip takes only eight minutes.
Working on the creation of a train on a magnetic cushion began in Japan in the 70-ies of the last century, however, these technologies for a long time no use. Construction of the Yamanashi maglev test line began in 1990. The 18.4 km of the line in Tsuru, Yamanashi, opened in 1997. MLX01 trains were tested there from 1997 to fall 2011, when the facility was closed to extend the line to 42.8 km and to upgrade it to commercial specifications.
In 2011 the Japanese government approved a plan for the construction of the first commercial line of such trains with a length of 286 km between Tokyo and Nagoya. The project cost is estimated at 5.5 trillion yen (€42,79 billion). The construction will involve about 15.000 people. By 2045 this branch is planned to be extended to the third largest city of Japan – Osaka. The average speed on the section between Tokyo and Nagoya can be about 500 km per hour, which will allow you to make the journey in 40 minutes. The duration of this same trip on high-speed trains Shinkansen is now one hour and 18 minutes.
The Japanese public is determined to realize this project. Yoshitsugu Hayashi, a railway professor at Nagoya University says: “This is a good example of Japanese technology and know-how, and it is important that Japan remains ahead in the technology of magnetic levitation“. That sounds as a clear warning to all the railway industry…