Maglev Industry Gains Momentum, But Is Big Cost A Turn-Off?

12/18/08Follow @bvbigelow

In meeting room G of San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt, Neil Cummings was preaching yesterday to the choir—which in this case is the 20th International Conference on Magnetically Levitated Systems and Linear Drives.

“I call it the new Iron Horse,” said Cummings, referring to the maglev industry’s vision for high-speed trains driven by magnetic levitation technology. He invoked the name of Abraham Lincoln, “who was a railroad lawyer before the Civil War,” and reminded his audience that it took 50 years to get the transcontinental railroad built.

Ah, if only it was that easy.

As the president of the American Magline Group, Cummings heads a private consortium that wants to build a high-speed maglev train from Anaheim, CA (i.e. Disneyland) to Las Vegas, NV (i.e. casinos). The project proposed by the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission would adopt maglev technology used in China by Shanghai Transrapid, which moves passengers 19 miles between the Pudong International Airport and downtown Shanghai at speeds of roughly 220 mph.

Cummings argues that Maglev is a technology whose time has come, but he also concedes, “You can’t … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://www.maglevtransport.com Laurence E. Blow

    Good summary of the meeting this week. I think maglev’s time is coming soon, too.

    One small correction, though: When you say, “[the Las Vegas project] would adopt maglev technology used in China by Shanghai Transrapid, which moves passengers 19 miles between the Pudong International Airport and downtown Shanghai at speeds of roughly 220 mph,” you’re shortchanging the performance of the maglev there a little.

    The routine top speed of the Shanghai maglev is 267 mph, or 430 km/hour, and the average speed is 145 mph, or about 240 km/hour, for the 7.5-minute one-way trip.

  • Gerhard Mulder

    I was luky to made a ride in the Transrapid 08 at the testtrack in Germany, I must say this is the way to get people out of the plane en back in to the train. What a wonderful invention. The cost are high but the maintenace 50 % lower. So in time it has a lot of advantage. Yes the chinees already knows, ho will be the next ?

  • Elmar Hutter

    Maglevs in prefactured “panorama” tubes – partly digged into the ground – or in underground tubes would be better protected than on open air tracks. Landscape and nature would be very grateful for such an integral solution.