Saturday, January 14, 2006

San Francisco to LA in an hour? Not on a plane!?! Blasphemy!

I was referred to a google video by a friend that showed a test run of a Japanese MagLev (Magnetic Levitation) train. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. Maybe a tad faster than the bullet trains that continue to define Japanese transportation. But no! This was a train that went a full 60% faster than the newest, most renovated bullet trains out there! This thing had a top speed of 502km/h! How amazing is that! I've looked into the concept of MagLev trains and came across an interesting article that explained Shanghai's MagLev. I didn't even know these things were in production or being built, let alone already used by people.

When talking to my friend about this, he told me that the upkeep of these behemoths would be so gargantuan that making large-scale ones in the United States would be impossible at the moment. Maybe in 10-15 years it might be plausible, but even then it would be hard to lay thousands of miles track without the upkeep costs skyrocketing. Small-scale ones, sure, and I believe the US has already invested into building a MagLev that connects Washington D.C. and Baltimore, one that surrounds the city of Pittsburgh, and one that connects all of Los Angeles' airfields and airports.

This kind of speed with no pollution whatsoever brings us to a new stage of engineering potential. In 20-30 years, intercontinental travel might be possible on these babies and the only barrier to production would be the initial cost of building the track. Just think, New York to London, San Francisco to Tokyo, Miami to vacation spots in the Caribbean. Business and pleasure travel would be so accessible. With no fuel cost, MagLev tickets have the possibility to be cheaper than plane tickets.


Anonymous Rob said...

I've been fascinated with Maglev technology since I was a kid, though I admit I haven't followed it closely lately - I didn't know a functioning passenger transrapid had been built in China.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Ryan Kellett said...

Yea. One does exist in Shanghai. It is speedy indeed. However, the grand experiment failed for the city because of what is called the "last mile." The train in Shanghai stops approximately one mile from the city. So, even though it gets you from the airport to the "city" in minutes still have to take another form of transportation after you diembark the train. Many decide to take cabs from the end of the train into the city and often it takes twice as long for the cab than the train itself. It simply proves that technology is great but it has to be integrated well.

7:54 PM  

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