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Toys Technology

Germany To Build New Maglev Railway 297

EWAdams writes "According to the BBC, the Bavarian state government has announced that it has signed an agreement with Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway system, and the Transrapid consortium, to provide a maglev railway between central Munich and its airport. The only other maglev in full operation at the moment is in Shanghai, again as a city-to-airport service. The cost of the system is estimated at $2.6 billion. No completion date has been announced."
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Germany To Build New Maglev Railway

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:26PM (#20749551)
    Shouldn't they just invest that in Facebook?
    I hear it's going to be big!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I bet you can buy a lot more for your 2.6 billion.
    • I like to put pennies on the train tracks. Maglev trains take all the fun out of it!
    • Halbach Arrays (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:43PM (#20749751)
      Halbach Arrays [] would allow them to build a magnetically levitating train without active control of the magnets. The track would be nothing more than a series of aluminum or copper rings. The levitation doesn't work when the train is stationary, but secondary wheels only designed for low speed on a prepared surface could handle this. (Failure mode away from stations would be for the train to drag its belly. It could be designed to ear up the track, but ensure the passengers safety.) Electromagnetic drag also decreases as the speed of the train increases.

      The resulting track and train would both cost a fraction of what they are currently spending. Both the levitation and guide magnets would be totally passive.
      • ...and there is more information about it here [].

        Inductrack is a brilliant technology, and not only can the principles be be used to produce cheap passively levitated trains, they also allow for the creation of passive magnetic bearings. While Halbach Arrays are very interesting themselves, and ideal for this system, they are not inherently necessary.

        The parent is correct about the cost though; this technology should be inexpensive enough to allow for wide scale adoption of Maglevs. Why we are still s

      • Re:Halbach Arrays (Score:5, Informative)

        by students ( 763488 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:48PM (#20750761) Homepage Journal
        My impression from the article was that the merit of the chosen design was a passive train. Making the track passive instead would greatly increase the weight of the train and hence the energy cost of getting up to speed.
    • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:30PM (#20750615) Homepage
      Also, 2.6 billion dollars is only 1.84 billion Euro, and dropping daily. :)
    • by jamrock ( 863246 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:17PM (#20751301)

      Insightful comment, and I agree with you. Maglev technology is really an answer in search of a question. Until high-temperature superconductors become economically feasible, power consumption, and the concomitant pollution from power production, remain prohibitive. Remember that many countries, including China, Germany, and the U.S.A., rely on coal for power generation, and the real cost of the ecological damage and pollution from mining and burning coal doesn't enter the minds of most.

      The real question, it seems to me, is why don't they invest those billions in new drivetrain, suspension, and rail technology. The French have achieved wonders with the TGV at a fraction of the cost, by continual refinement of well-proven engineering technology. And they've been in operation throughout France and much of western Europe for more than 25 years, without a single fatality over a speed of 160 kph. The recent successful trials during which a modified TGV set a speed record of 574 kph (357 mph), should be an indication of what is possible. The train had such refinements as more powerful electric motors, lighter axles, larger wheels, and in-cab signaling (the driver doesn't have to rely on trackside signals), and ran a route chosen with long, straight segments, and without sharp curves.

      Revolution is sexy and makes the headlines, but the steady progress of evolution is not to be sneezed at. Hell, the x86 processor architecture is still alive and kicking, long after its demise was predicted. I guess nobody told Intel's engineers that it was obsolete, or that further refinements were impossible. Maglev makes headlines with its promise of a Star Trek future today, but TGV's simply keep on hauling millions of passengers in safety and comfort every year. On runs of three hours or less they have largely replaced air travel. Such routine, dependable, reliability is a remarkable achievement.

      • by ReallyEvilCanine ( 991886 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @02:36AM (#20752561) Homepage
        why don't they invest those billions in new drivetrain, suspension, and rail technology
        You answered your own question. It's not sexy. Maglev is sexy. This is truly a real-life version of Monorail. No one but Stoiber and his little group of cronies wants it built. The track costs are enormous, the route will require no fewer than three more tunnels and two bridges (or bridge extensions), there are some difficult easements to obtain along the route, the energy usage is extreme, ugly noise abatement walls will have to be built, annual track maintenance is more than double the standard rail tracks which the S-Bahn uses, and all of this for what? To shave a maximum of half an hour off the trip between the airport and the train station.

        Except no one will ride it. Most travelers aren't going to Hauptbahnhof. They're headed to Ostbahnhof, Marienplatz or Pasing. Once they arrive at the Hauptbahnhof they then have to transfer to the S-Bahn anyway. Not that anyone will ride the thing to begin with. The costs are so high that the ticket prices will be at least three times that of the normal S-Bahn. No local is about to shell out for that and neither would most of the foreigners.

        An express S-Bahn in conjunction with the existing S-8 route could be done with only one additional track, but even with a dual track would be a much better solution. The time could be cut from 60 minutes to 40, only 10 minutes slower than the expected maglev time at a cost savings of a few billion plus more than 120 million annually in track maintenance, a recurring cost which will also continue to rise.

        Anyone who believes the costs will actually stay anywhere near 2.6B is on drugs. This white elephant will end up costing us more than 5B. But it's sexy.

        I want to know just how much of a vested interest in the suppliers, operators and landowners those who have pushed this project have. Maybe we can have another neat scandal.

        • by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @09:46AM (#20754699) Journal
          "Except no one will ride it."

          I would. you might be right that it wouldn't be popular among the normal commuters (not at 3x the normal price, anyway), but I've never been an a maglev, and would like to try it once.

          So...maybe you should see it as a touristic attraction.

          Ofcourse, you're probably right with the rest of your analysis. And indeed, it will probably cost 5 billion, if they predict 2.6 - those over-budget things happen a lot, with huge projects.

          That said, a small remark, though. When I see the argument 'current TGV trains can go almost as fast as maglevs, for far less money'...well, true, in a way. But that's NOW, and that's when our current state of investment is pretty low, just because of the arguments you brought up. But, the old trainsystem can only be optimized in a relatively small way anymore: it's more of a technical 'polishing' and optimizing...but at the end, no drastic improvements are possible, because it's a fully matured technology.

          When the jet-engine for airplanes was first build, they weren't all that faster then the old, matured and optimized classical engines neither. And they were costing a lot more, and were (are) more expensive in maintainance. If people then would have said; well, just let us continue the old way and optimize our current engines a bit further, the technology for the jet engine wouldn't be where it is today. It has proven to be a superior product in many respects by now. Maybe the same can be said of the maglev-development. Sure, it's more expensive to buy and to maintain, and it's currently not all that much faster than an ordinary high-speed train - but it's a NEW technology. That doesn't just mean it's more 'sexy', it also means it's at the beginning of its potential, not at the end, like our current, matured train-technologies.

          It's often worth to give a novel technology a shot, even, certainly in the beginning, it doesn't seem all that better and is often more expensive. Fighting against an established market/technology can be very difficult, but it can have its advantages in the long term too.
  • Monorail! (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:28PM (#20749579) Homepage Journal
    They will be like North Haverbrook.
  • by Clanked ( 1156473 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:30PM (#20749605)
    Will it be cat friendly?
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:33PM (#20749637)
      > Will it be cat friendly?

      Depends. A monorail cat could still use wheels, unless they upgraded your cat [] to maglev.

  • Good for Bavaria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ucla74 ( 1093323 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:38PM (#20749699)
    Imagine how wonderful it would be to have such a system between, say, JFK airport and Grand Central Station. But that makes way too much sense, from almost any view, to ever have a chance of actually happening in my lifetime.
    • Re:Good for Bavaria (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:58PM (#20749895) Journal
      It is far more likely that if such a system gets built, it will be General Atomics. GA's is not only American, but it is a fraction of the price/mile. Of course, it is not as fast. The transrapid does 300 MPH+, whereas the GA will be 250. But the GA is expected to cost about the same as a monorail (5-10 million/mile), whereas transrapid cost 30 million/mile just in china.
      • Interesting to read about this and a related post ( [] ) I actually did a small project at high school about maglev stuff and, at the time, the Seraphim engine + tech was the 'cutting edge' direction things seemed to be going in.

        Rather than having the track be the motor (as per the german tracks), the Seraphim engine had the motor inside the vehicle instead. And instead of relying on full levitation, it mostly used the magnetic forces for propulsion
        • Well, back in the 90's, it was going to go into Colorado High speed rail, and that is the core idea of GA's Mag Lev.
      • White elephants (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:09PM (#20750485)
        They claim...

        The track between Munich and the airport is 37km; 23 miles long. A conventional express train (not even ICE) could do that easily in 20 minutes if it doesn't stop at each station. The maglev will do it in 10 mins.

        Wouldn't it make more sense to operate the Maglev over a distance which would allow it to save a significant amount of time? i.e. Actually inter city?

        Oh, and I don't believe those cost/mile figures for a second. Any of them.
        • Oh, and I don't believe those cost/mile figures for a second. Any of them.

          Wow! I'm totally convinced by your compelling argument - backed up with fact after fact after fact!
        • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
          Exactly. And consider that time from airport to central station is hardly a meaningful measurement. What I am interested in is the time to go from the actual starting point to the actual end point of my journey. 10 minutes saved on the maglev are easily lost again on the tram, taxi, or train from the central station.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zoxed ( 676559 )
          > The track between Munich and the airport is 37km; 23 miles long. A conventional express train (not even ICE) could do that easily in 20 minutes if it doesn't stop at each station. The maglev will do it in 10 mins.

          I agree: if I was in charge I would choose a direct "normal" rail link. But there are 2 points *against* a 'normal" rail-link:

          1) Dick-swinging: as in "look at us, we have a cool high tech toy".

          2) Public subsidy of private industry: the builders (German of course: and I bet Bavarian firms will
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If it's so wonderful, and makes so much sense, you should have no trouble at all convincing people to give you the $2.6+ billion it would cost. And the eminent domain you'd need for your easements. Let me know how your project works out.
      • by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:54PM (#20750361)
        I know $2.6B sounds expensive, but try pricing out 18 miles of freeway, or even just widening and repaving 18 miles of an existing freeway. Those roads don't just pay for themselves.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by RealGrouchy ( 943109 )

          Those roads don't just pay for themselves.
          Yes they do.

          - General Motors
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by khallow ( 566160 )
          I don't know about Germany, but apparently it costs [] (look at "Interstate 287" costs) around $100 million per mile (estimated) for a six lane (three lanes each way) toll road on Long Island, New York (bridges cost a lot extra). This is comparable in cost to the maglev rail in Munich right down to the property costs, I wager.. Ridership on the German train is expected to be almost 8 million while the six lane road is expected to take 27 million vehicles. Hmmm, I didn't expect the rail to look so poor in compa
        •$.htm []

          Its to the airport so we'll be generous and give it six lanes. 2 lanes for one mile comes to about $540,000 per year (maintenance plus capital costs). Triple that is 1.6 million per year. Times 18 is a hair under $30 million. And we'll give it a useful life of, hmm, call it twenty years before the government decides to vote some lucky contractor more money. Total lifetime cost: $600 million. Double the cost because its Europe and, hey, everyone knows things are
    • To Grand Central? That is hardly enough room to build up speed. How about JFK to LAX?
      • How about JFK to LAX?

        Because it would not be competitive with jet travel over long haul routes like that. The maglev competes with short hop flights not long haul trips.
        • Because it would not be competitive with jet travel over long haul routes like that.

          If it could maintain even 250mph average with stops, it could compete with jets on the 1000-mile market. Remember that this would take you directly into a center city, and also stop along the way. Kind of hard to do that with any conventional jet. You might have NYC to LA with most people going NYC to Chicago, or Salt Lake to LA.


          • I'd certainly prefer it for 1000 mile trips. Heck, even for LA-NY ( assuming Union Station in LA top Grand Central in NYC ) I'd prefer it. I'd rather be comfortable for 12 hours instead of cramped for 5. ( And by the time that one counts delays, baggage check, and getting to and from airports, a flight from LA to NY is a 10-hour affair, doorstep to doorstep. )
    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:53PM (#20750359)
      Look, we can't even be bothered to spend enough money to maintain the infrastructure previous generations built for us.
    • Imagine how wonderful it would be to have such a system between, say, JFK airport and Grand Central Station

      The one time I was in NYC I thought the train to JFK was pretty good by world standards. The real problem is the JFK can't cope with the current traffic load. A train which competes with air traffic from JFK would make more sense.

      How about a fast train to Washington? If not a maglev then perhaps something like a TGV?

    • Imagine how wonderful it would be to have such a system between, say, JFK airport and Grand Central Station. But that makes way too much sense, from almost any view, to ever have a chance of actually happening in my lifetime.

      The real question is: why in the name of (deity of choice) didn't they extend the *subway* out to JFK and the PATH out to Newark rather than making people change to another train to get into NYC? There was no good engineering reason for this decision -- I suspect it was due to infigh

  • Luv it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:43PM (#20749743)
    The Maglev in Shanghai (built by the Germans) is great fun. The ride takes less than 10 minutes, and you hit a top speed of 433kph - smooth as glass.

    You can frequently find Japanese tour groups that will ride back & forth between the airport and downtown, like it was a theme park ride :)

    When the Shanghai Maglev first went online, ridership was fairly low. The ticket cost is a bit high in local terms... Today, with the Olympics right around the corner, ridership means the train is usually full.

    Plans are in place to build the next one as a longer leg, perhaps between Shanghai and Nanjing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      it is one of my goals to ride one of these bullet trains.

      I may not be the first to think of this (though google results for "high speed rail vacuum" seem to return results concerning toilets and braking systems) - could it be practical to build a vacuum-tunnel for a maglev train to travel through?

      I was thinking that perhaps building a deeply submerged tunnel (through rock especially) would work well, since there would be no surrounding atmosphere to sneak in easily. It would seem easiest to form a vacuum-se
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        There's no cheap way to maintain a vacuum on earth.

        All vacuum chambers are actively pumped, that means it costs money.
      • Re:Luv it... (Score:5, Informative)

        by fdicostanzo ( 14394 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:44PM (#20750729)
      • A few major problems with transatlantic vactrains.

        1. Maglev + constant vacuum pumping = enormous energy costs.
        2. Proper track re-alignment after an earthquake would be an engineering nightmare.
        3. Maintenance costs.

        A more elegant solution would be to use Supersonic Submarines. Basically, an underwater version of an airplane minus the sonic-boom. The downside however is their restricted use. They could only provide coast to coast transportation in open waters.

        The airline industry already has the economic migh
    • Re:Luv it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:50PM (#20750323) Homepage
      Yup, I've been on it twice. Just take a bus or cab to the subway. From there, you can get to the Maglev and ride it to Pudong International Airport. It costs 50 RMB one-way (currently $6.65 dollars).

      I'll never forget the first time I rode it. After we boarded the train (inside reminds me of a Boeing 737 cabin; seats and all), I was headed over to the bin to place my back pack so I could find a seat to sit. As I was walking down the isle, we were already going about 50 KPH. That's right! I did *not* feel anything going from a standstill to 50 KPH standing up!

      Reading about the Maglevs is one thing, but to actually ride in one is a whole other experience. It truly is ultra smooooth.
    • Lev it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:19PM (#20750561) Homepage Journal
      The Shanghai maglev is a great deal of fun to ride (if not very expensive), but it's poorly thought out. Since it's not well connected to the public transit system, it takes longer (and costs more) to get to Pudong International by the train than by a cab.

      Of course, I may be especially bitter since the lady at the ticket window lied to me. =) When I got to the maglev station, I realized I hadn't checked if the plane ticket I'd bought in Shanghai was for Pudong or Hongqiao. I know the characters for Pudong, and I couldn't find them on my ticket, so I asked the ticket lady (in Chinese) if the characters for airport were for Pudong. She said yes. I said, *are you sure this ticket is for Pudong Airport?* She said yes. So I bought a ticket, had a fun ride on the maglevl, and promptly missed my flight from Hongqiao.

      At 2.2 billion for a short hop, the German maglev seems very overpriced compared with comparable train systems. Linking all the major cities in California on a high speed rail network is only $30B by comparison.
    • Re:Luv it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by grainofsand ( 548591 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dnasfoniarg.> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:40PM (#20750693)
      Whilst the Shanghai maglev is indeed a great train ride experience, it does not actually terminate anywhere near "downtown" Shanghai. It terminates about 15 kms from the Lujiazui central business district and does not cross the Pudong river to the Puxi side (Huaihai Road or Nanjing Xi Lu) business districts.

      The reality is that the Shanghai maglev is poorly used because it fails to deliver travelers to where they want to go. The Shanghai maglev would be a spectacular success if it actually terminated in one of the major business districts in Shanghai. But it does not.

      As it stands, it is a white elephant. A trimuph of engineering and an amazing proof-of-concept - but a terrible piece of transport planning.
      • by fliptout ( 9217 )
        Agreed. Every international flight I had in to and out of Shanghai was at some god-awful hour, and guess what? The train shuts down at 6pm. Useless. Which is a shame because my girlfriend's old apartment was just across the street from the terminal.
  • Ripoff.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @06:44PM (#20749755)
    At 2.6 Billion that is only about 2-weeks of Iraq war.

    Which would you rather have? A shiny new Maglev or 2-weeks of war. Those Europeans have a warped sense of priorities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by servognome ( 738846 )

      Which would you rather have? A shiny new Maglev or 2-weeks of war.
      A maglev will provide what an hour of TV viewing, maybe 2 if you include the Discovery Channel "making of the maglev."
      Now 2 weeks of war will fill up all the news channels 23 hours a day (1 hour a day for lindsay lohan/brittney/misc DUI moviestar).
    • by mjbkinx ( 800231 )
      To answer the obvious question, total direct financial costs are more than $450bn [], so that's about 4000 miles []. However, if you use the Iraq example for a projection of the actual costs versus the estimate, it will only pay for a quick ride to the suburbs.
  • geek drawback.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eniac42 ( 1144799 )
    Just dont carry any hard/floppy disks, or Cassette/VHS/IBM370 tapes or other mag media on this train.

    Your Donna Summer 8-Track will not survive..
  • Do you think it'll encourage more than 8% of journeys to be made by rail?

    "OECD in Figures 2005 - Transport",3398,en_2825_497139_1_1_1_1_1,00.html []

    Or is it just a way for politicians to make themselves look good while wasting vast quantities of money?

    • Do you think they're trying to pay it off in a year?
      • It really doesn't matter if they plan to pay it off in a single year or not. It's state funded which means that the state taxpayers are paying to reduce the commute times on a service very few are likely to use more than once or twice a year, if that.

        If the airport were funding the line I think we may have seen something rather different.
        • It really doesn't matter if they plan to pay it off in a single year or not. It's state funded which means that the state taxpayers are paying to reduce the commute times on a service very few are likely to use more than once or twice a year, if that.

          Sure it matters. If the income from the people who do use it is enough that it exceeds the annual operational cost by enough that within a reasonable time frame it pays for itself then the state and ergo the taxpayers will net a profit.

          I think I was just confu
    • Do you think it'll encourage more than 8% of journeys to be made by rail?

      Just for some perspective, Germany's 7.77% (according to those figures) is not half bad, as train statistics go. Only Hungary, Switzerland, and Japan have significantly greater train use -- a whole bunch of OECD countries are bunched up with Germany. Plus I'm not sure I have much faith in those figures -- apparently in my country, no one ever travels at all :-)

      Or is it just a way for politicians to make themselves look good while wasting vast quantities of money?

      I don't know enough about Munich politics to comment. But the S-Bahn trip between the airport and the city could do with being a lot quicker (th

  • Metal plate in head (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:23PM (#20750073)
    What happens when you are one of those poor souls with a metal plate in your head or elsewhere? Does the magnetic field fuck with you? I know some people can't have MRI's for that reason.
  • by mce ( 509 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:26PM (#20750095) Homepage Journal

    Having flown several times into and out of Munich before, I know what the current connection between the airport and the city is like: a complete nightmare. So I fully understand that they want to do something about it. But this maglev project of theirs is a complete waste of resources, economically (way too expensive) and technically (way to many dedicated material inputs). What they really should do, IMHO, is upgrade the rail connection to use standard high speed ICE trains. That's a lot cheaper and about just as effective.

    This Maglev is only worth it for really long distances, like the Hamburg-Berlin line they once planned. But then again, there are good reasons why that is not working out. In short, I love the technology, but after about 30 years they should at long last admit that it was a practical failure and can the thing. But certain people can't admit mistakes and certain others (e.g. someone the Germans will be able to identify as soon as I write "Edmund" :-) ) are looking to build a monument for themselves at all cost (that idea totally fits his personality and current cereer status, by the way).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      "Edmund"? Edmund Blackadder? He could certainly be deceitful, sure, but it's a rather obscure link between he, Machiavelli, Mussolini, Hilter, *then* Germany. I'm not sure many folk will "get it".
    • by Yakman ( 22964 )
      What's so nightmarish about it in your opinion?

      I was there at the end of July and it was a pleasant 45 minute train ride to the Hauptbahnhof in the centre of town, and there's about 3 services an hour. Not necessarily the cheapest at 8.80EUR or so, but for 18EUR my wife and I had an all day "partner ticket" we could use on the metro all we wanted for the day we were there (so only 40c more than two singles from the airport to the city centre).

      Most cities I've been to the airport services have been a bit ex
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm living in Munich. I don't know a single person who's in favor of the Transrapid. I'd love to know one, because I haven't ever heard a convincing argument in favor of this connection.

      There are essentially two arguments in favor of the Transrapid:
      1) it will make all the world want to buy this fancy German technology, as it will show everybody how viable and useful it is.
      2) it will make the ride to the airport much faster, as the ride from the central station will become much faster.

      Re 1): that's fairly
  • Don't forget, about 7 years ago, that would've been about $1.3 Billion. Why not just list the price in Euros? We have enough people here that know what it is; plus, then the pricing doesn't need to be re-adjusted constantly.

    Offtopic Prediction: 10 years from now, the USD will have fallen dramatically because commodities have begun to transfer from being traded in USD to either the Euro or the Yuan
  • by Goth Biker Babe ( 311502 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @07:43PM (#20750263) Homepage Journal []

    I hope the German one turns out to be more technically reliable.
    • Hmm "Defective by design" comes to mind: []

      Note the date of the accident, there was just the 1 year remembrance of this tragic accident killing 22 people. The timing couldn't have been worse, or better, as I'm not so sure if it's a good idea to build it here in Germany.

      The point is, they forgot a maintenance car on the test track. Now this is a CLOSED test track, on poles, nothing unexpected can pass (except birds I guess). No one apparen

  • One has to wonder if it's really worth the money, or is it just a boondoggle? German tax rates are already very high, among the highest in Europe. These high taxes are responsible for much industry moving to, or starting in, other EC countries with much lower costs, such as Slovakia or even Ireland (Ireland has low taxes but other costs are now getting quite high). This is quite a problem, particularly in the East, where the industrial base is not as developed as in the West. The West has many highly skille
    • by deanc ( 2214 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:22PM (#20751329) Homepage
      One has to wonder if it's really worth the money, or is it just a boondoggle? German tax rates are already very high, among the highest in Europe.

      Have you been to Germany? Traveled through the country and taken a few train trips? With those taxes comes some of the nicest, most efficiently-running, most well-maintained infrastructure in Europe. It's worth the money in the sense that, to Germans, it ensure that the country has an amenity that keeps their country running in a lifestyle to which they're accustomed.

      Now, contrast this with New York City-- the fact that there's no rail connection between the airports and downtown comes across as pretty ghetto and low-rent.

      It's a lot like the difference between renting and apartment and owning a house. Renters are understanding that the kitchens and bathrooms are going to be old and not well maintained, because the landlord isn't willing to invest in upgrades if it doesn't give him more rent. On the other hand, people who own their house are going to put money into their homes to upgrade their kitchens and buy nice furniture because they enjoy the lifestyle it provides.

      Germans expect to live in a country where they have the amenities they would expect as owners. Americans are content to have their government act as a slumlord.

    • I have never been to Munich
      Go! It's really nice. (Speaking as an American who visited in 2000).
  • They might meet some resistance...
  • If you're headed to Shanghai *don't* take the maglev.

    The Shanghai system doesn't actually go anywhere... it gets about halfway (30KM?) from downtown before it just stops.

    Interesting in a "we're hip, we've got a maglev" way, but sure would be more useful if you could take it to and from the airport.
    • by 808140 ( 808140 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:00PM (#20751201)
      Informative? What a load of BS. Where exactly would you have the Maglev take you? To your hotel? You do realize that Shanghai is a huge city and that different people have different destinations, right? The Shanghai maglev takes you to the Long Yang Lu metro stop, and from there you can go anywhere you want, essentially, in the city.

      Not to mention that the maglev costs 50 RMB and covers in 8 minutes a distance that a taxi costing 100 RMB would cover in 40. So especially if you're traveling alone, the maglev is by far the most convenient way to get in and out of Shanghai. If you're with your whole family and don't want to deal with public transportation, a taxi might be more convenient -- but it will most certainly be slower.

      Why yes, I lived and worked in Shanghai for almost 3 years, thank for asking.
  • ...with maglevs (well the current transrapids at least) is that, like all high-speed transport, they are only efficient as hub-to-hub sprinters, as they are relatively slow starters (see here) []. As the low friction nature of levitation is the reason for their slow launches, I would propose some electrically driven wheels on the undercarriage making contact with the flat concrete track would be able to launch them to top speed (~400km/h or 249m/h) in an unprecedented time

    Undercarriage wheels where actually
  • Stupid stupid stupid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 )
    This is pretty stupid. Maglev is a dead-end technology. Conventional rail has achieved 360 miles per hour a few months ago on a standard track with a souped-up standard train whereas maglev only goes up to 280 mph.

    In addition, german Maglev technology is rather dangerous; an accident 1 year ago on a demonstration line killed 23 people [], this accident was caused by inadequate (by design) signalling system. This is particularly concerning because the first role of railroad signalling is to indicate that the t

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