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Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) is a transport method that uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without touching the ground. With maglev, a vehicle travels along a guideway using magnets to create both lift and propulsion, thereby reducing friction by a great extent and allowing very high speeds.

The Shanghai Maglev Train, also known as the Transrapid, is the fastest commercial train currently in operation and has a top speed of 430 km/h (270 mph). The line was designed to connect Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the outskirts of central Pudong, Shanghai. It covers a distance of 30.5 kilometres (19.0 mi) in 8 minutes.[1]

Maglev trains move more smoothly and more quietly than wheeled mass transit systems. They are relatively unaffected by weather. The power needed for levitation is typically not a large percentage of its overall energy consumption;[2] most goes to overcome drag, as with other high- speed transport. Maglev trains hold the speed record for rail transport. Vacuum tube train systems might allow maglev trains to attain still higher speeds, though no such vacuum tubes have been built commercially yet.[3]

Compared to conventional (normal) trains, differences in construction affect the economics of maglev trains, making them much more efficient. For high-speed trains with wheels, wear and tear from friction along with the "hammer effect" from wheels on rails accelerates equipment wear and prevents high speeds.[4] Conversely, maglev systems have been much more expensive to construct, offsetting lower maintenance costs.

Despite decades of research and development, only two commercial maglev transport systems are in operation, with two others under construction.[note 1] In April 2004, Shanghai's Transrapid system began commercial operations. In March 2005, Japan began operation of its relatively low-speed HSST "Linimo" line in time for the 2005 World Expo. In its first three months, the Linimo line carried over 10 million passengers. South Korea and the People's Republic of China are both building low-speed maglev routes of their own designs, one in Beijing and the other at Seoul's Incheon Airport. Many maglev projects are controversial, and the technological potential, adoption prospects and economics of maglev systems are often debated.[citation needed] The Shanghai system was labeled a white elephant by rivals


The principle of magnetic levitation is that a vehicle can be suspended and propelled on a guidance track made with magnets. The vehicle on top of the track may be propelled with the help of a linear induction motor. Although the vehicle does not use steel wheels on a steel rail they are still referred to as trains as by definition they are a long chain of vehicles which travel in the same direction. This is the definition of a MAGLEV train.

As the frictional parts are minimum in this type of technology, the MAGLEV trains are known to have more speed, smoothness and less sound.

The train will be floating about 10mm above the magnetic guiding track. The train will be propelled to move by the guide way itself. Thus, there is no need of any engine inside he train. The detailed working of MAGLEV train is shown in the figure below. The train is propelled by the changing in magnetic fields. As soon as the train starts to move, the magnetic field changes sections by switching method and thus the train is again pulled forward. The whole guide way is run by electromagnets so as to provide the magnetic effect.Thus the power needed for the whole process is less when compared to a conventional electric train. Amongst the power used, only a little is used for the levitation process. But a higher percentage of power is needed to overcome air friction.

Commercial use of MAGLEV Trains

The first known commercial use of MAGLEV train was in the year 1984 in Birmingham, England, and the train was named MAGLEV itself. But due to less reliability, the train was stopped by 1994.

The most famous commercial MAGLEV train is the Shanghai MAGLEV train in Shanghai, China. The train can go in a top speed of 270 miles/hour with an average speed of 160 miles/hour.

Since these trains move on a cushion of air, there is no friction at all [except air friction]. The trains are also aerodynamically designed which enables them to reach great speeds like 300 miles/hour and so on. At 300 miles/hour you can travel from Rome to Paris in about 2 hours.

Advantages of MAGLEV

The main advantage is maintenance. There is no contact between the guide way and the train which lessens the number of moving parts. Thus the components that wear out is little.

Another advantage is the reduction in noise. As there are no wheels running along there is no wheel noise. However noise due to air disturbance will still be there.

The next advantage is high speed. As there are no frictional contacts, the train is prone to have more speed.

Another advantage is that the guide way can be made a lot thicker in uphill places, after stations and so on. This will help in increasing the speed of the train further.

Disadvantages of MAGLEV

The initial cost of MAGLEV trains are highly costly. The guide paths are also supposed to be more costly than conventional steel railways.


MAGLEV trains are more environmentally friendly than other types of trains. In terms of energy consumption maglev trains are slightly better off than conventional trains. As there is no wheel friction with the ground, the resistive force gradually increases in the air friction. Thus the energy efficiency difference between a MAGLEV train and a conventional train is of very small margin.

Maglev trains use magnets to levitate and propel the trains forward. Since there is no friction these trains can reach high speeds. It is a safe and efficient way to travel.




http://www.tech-faq.com/how-does-a- maglev-train-work.html

http://www.o-keating.com/hsr/maglev.html Book: The mistery of Magnets