Magnetically Levitated Trains
Maglev Train Keywords:
General: Maglev, Magnetic Levitation, Magnetically Levitated
Train, Maglev “Guideway”, Maglev Train, Maglev Vehicle, Maglev
Technology, Maglev System, Transportation, Transport, Transit,
Superfast, High Speed, High Speed Train (HST), Rapid Transit System,
Operation Control System (OCS), Linear Induction Motor (LIM), Linear
Synchronous Motor (LSM), Propulsion System, Guidance System, Levitation
Rails, Air Gap, ElectroMagnetic Suspension (EMS), ElectroDynamic
Maglev in German: Transrapid International (TRI), Transrapid Test
Facility (TVE), “TR09” German Maglev Train, “TR08” German Maglev Train
Maglev in China: Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT)
Maglev in Japan: Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI)
Maglev System, “MLX01” Japanese Maglev Train, High Speed Surface
Transport (HSST), “CHSST” (Chubu HSST), Linimo Maglev
Maglev in USA: American Maglev Technology (AMT), General Atomics
(GA), MagneMotion, Maglev 2000 (M2000), Colorado Maglev Project (CMP),
Old Dominion University (ODU) Maglev System, California University of
Pennsylvania (CUP) Maglev System, Maglev Urban System Associates (MUSA)
Maglev in Korea: Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials
(“KIMM”) Maglev System, Urban Transit Maglev (“UTM”)
Magnetic levitation (maglev) is an innovative transportation technology.
It is sometimes said to be the first fundamental innovation in the field
of railroad technology since the invention of the railway. A high speed
maglev train uses non-contact magnetic levitation, guidance and
propulsion systems and has no wheels, axles and transmission. The
replacement of mechanical components by wear-free electronics overcomes
the technical restrictions of wheel-on-rail technology. Compared with
traditional railways, maglev systems have features that could constitute
an attractive transportation alternative:
High speed. Capable of traveling safely at speeds of 250 to 300
miles-per-hour (112m/s to 134m/s) or higher, which is four times the
national highway speed limit of 65 mph (30m/s). Maglev could offer a
convenient alternative for intercity travelers.
High safety. Despite high speeds, passengers may be safer than in
other transportation systems. The electromagnetically suspended vehicle
is wrapped around the guideway and therefore virtually impossible to
derail. Elevated guideways ensure that no obstacles can be in the way.
Less pollution. As maglev is electrically powered, there is no
direct air pollution as with airplanes and automobiles. It is easier and
more effective to control emissions at the source of electric power
generation rather than at many points of consumption. Due to its
non-contact technology, there is neither rolling nor engine noise.
Low energy consumption. With non-contact technology, there is no
energy loss due to the wheel-guideway friction. The vehicle weight is
lower due to the absence of wheels, axles and engine.
High capacity. Maglev systems can provide sufficient capacity to
accommodate traffic growth. They can help relieve air and highway
congestion by diverting a portion of highway trips and by substituting
for short air trips.
There are three primary functions in maglev technology: (1) levitation
or suspension; (2) propulsion; (3) guidance. Current maglev system
design uses magnetic forces to perform all three functions.
Currently there are two principal different designs of suspension
systems. One design is called ElectroDynamic Suspension (EDS). The Japan
Railway Technical Research Institute’s (RTRI) MLU-series maglev design
is an EDS system.
The EDS has onboard magnets that induce current in the guideway
sidewalls while the vehicle is moving. Resulting repulsive forces
produce inherently stable vehicle support and guidance, because the
magnetic repulsion increases as the vehicle/guideway gap (both vertical
and lateral) decreases. The magnetized coil running along the track
repels the large magnets mounted on the train's undercarriage, allowing
the train to levitate between 0.39 and 3.93 inches (1 to 10 cm) above
the guideway. However, some form of support is needed for taking off and
landing, since the EDS cannot be levitated at speeds lower than 62 mph.
The second design is called ElectroMagnetic Suspension (EMS). The German
technology, the Transrapid International (TRI) maglev system, is based
on an EMS design, which is an attractive force levitation system.
Electronically controlled support magnets are located on both sides
along the entire length of the vehicle. Ferromagnetic stator packs are
mounted to the underside of the guideway. The electromagnets on the
vehicle interact with and are attracted to ferromagnetic rails on the
guideway. Electromagnets attached to the train's undercarriage are
directed up toward the guideway, which levitates the train about 1/3
inch (1 cm) above the guideway and keeps the train levitated even when
it's not moving. The attractive force produces inherently unstable
vehicle support because the attractive force increases as the
vehicle/guideway gap decreases. An electronic control system is equipped
to maintain the vehicle/guideway gap and prevent contact. This involves
the complex problems of gap sensing, analog and digital control, and
Guidance magnets are located on both sides along the entire length of
the vehicle to keep the vehicle laterally stable during travel on the
track. Electronic control systems control the clearance (nominally 10
mm). The levitation system uses on-board batteries that are independent
of the propulsion system. The vehicle is capable of hovering up to one
hour without external energy. While traveling, the on-board batteries
are recharged by linear generators integrated into the support magnets.
synchronous, long stator linear motor is used in the Transrapid maglev
system both for propulsion and braking. It functions like a rotating
electric motor whose stator is cut open and stretched along under the
guideway. Inside the motor windings, alternating current is generating a
magnetic traveling field that moves the vehicle without contact. The
support magnets in the vehicle function as the excitation portion
(rotor). The speed can be continuously regulated by varying the
frequency of the alternating current. If the direction of the traveling
field is reversed, the motor becomes a generator which brakes the
vehicle without any contact.
In accordance with Lenz’s Law, the
interaction of the levitation field with the current in the slots of the
rail results in propulsion or braking force. During the motion of the
magnet along the rail, the linear generator winding of the main pole is
coupled with a non-constant flux, which induces a voltage and reloads
the on-board batteries. The generation process begins in the range of 15
km/h and equals the losses of the magnetic suspension systems at 90
km/h. The whole energy losses of the vehicle are compensated at a
velocity of 110 km/h and the batteries are reloaded. Thus the levitation
magnet integrates three tasks: levitation, propulsion and transfer of
energy to the vehicle.
The maglev train hovers over a double track guideway. It can be mounted
either at-grade or elevated on columns and consists of individual steel
or concrete beams.
One major difference between Japanese and German maglev trains is that
the Japanese trains use super-cooled, superconducting electromagnets. In
the EMS system, which uses standard electromagnets, the coils only
conduct electricity when a power supply is present. But the technical
requirements for Japanese maglev train are higher than in the case of
attractive magnetic forces for which only one side of the system needs
to be equipped with electrical wires (the vehicle) for vehicle
Another difference between the systems is that the Japanese trains
levitate nearly 4 inches (10 cm) above the guideway. Compared with
German trains, which are levitated only about 1/3 inch (1cm), this great
gap will generate high stray magnetic fields. Since the gap is much
smaller in the EMS system, the force density is sufficiently high and
the power consumption is very low even with ordinary electromagnets. It
is not necessary to use superconducting coils. While levitation can be
achieved at low speed and even at standstill for an EMS system, maglev
trains using EDS system must roll on rubber tires until they reach a
lift-off speed of about 62 mph (100 kph).
Germany (TRI) has been investigating electromagnetic levitation since
1969, and commissioned the TR02 in 1971. The eighth generation vehicle,
the TR08, which operates on 19.6 miles (31.5km) of guideway at the
Emsland test track in northwest Germany, is the culmination of nearly 30
years of German maglev development. Control systems regulate levitation
and guidance forces to maintain a 1cm (0.4in) gap between the magnets
and the iron tracks on the guideway. Some of its precursor prototype
vehicles, the TR07 and the TR06, have been tested at the Transrapid Test
Facility (TVE) for more than 15 years.
Construction work of the Shanghai Transrapid line began in March 2001.
After only 22 months of construction time, the world's first
commercially operated Transrapid train made its successful maiden trip
on December, 31 2002. On December 29, 2003, the world’s first commercial
Transrapid line with a five section train started scheduled operation in
Shanghai. The Shanghai maglev system travels on a 30km double-track
elevated guideway, connecting LongYang Station in Shanghai to Pudong
International Airport. The journey time is under 8 minutes. Regardless
of the load and speed, the onboard control system maintains a 10mm gap
with a ±2mm tolerance between the vehicle’s support magnets and the
guideway’s stators and between the guidance magnets and the steel guide
rails. A hybrid girder design is used to combine the low cost of
concrete with the precision manufacturing offered by steel. The I-shaped
hybrid girder is 25m long, 2.8 wide, 2.2m high and weighs 1.86MN with a
reinforced concrete center girder and bolted steel cantilevers. The
girders were milled to a precision of 0.2mm.. Engineers evaluated the
girder with respect to as many as 14,000 load cases by consideration of
the deflection, dynamic strength and thermal expansion. The reinforced
concrete support piers are designed to withstand the seismic forces of
earthquakes up to 7.5 on the Richter scale. The maximum allowable total
deformation of the guideway is 10mm, which can come from the settlements
caused by consolidation or creep, by dead load, by cyclic loads from the
vehicles or by dynamic loads during operation. "Three-way" bearings are
installed between the guideways to allow alignment corrections. The
Chinese government intends to link Shanghai to the city of Hangzhou,
193km to the southwest, which would create the world’s first intercity
Germany, starting in 2009, the Transrapid will connect Munich's city
center with "Franz-Josef Strauß" Airport. The construction of the
Shanghai Transrapid line and the decision on the maglev projects in
Germany have given credibility to the innovative rail system. In the
U.S., Congress established the Maglev Deployment Program in 1998 as part
of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) with the
expressed purpose of building a maglev demonstration project. Six
projects are about to be decided on: a 60 kilometer long connection
between Baltimore and Washington, a 76 kilometer long airport link in
Pittsburgh, two in Southern California, one from Las Vegas to Anaheim,
California, and one from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Huiguang Dai, “Dynamic Behavior of Maglev
Vehicle/Guideway System with Control”, Department of Civil Engineering,
Case Western Reserve University, August, 2005.]
1934 - 1977: From the idea to the system decision
1978 - 1991: From the test facility to technical readiness for
1992 - 1999: The first application in Germany is planned
2000 - today: Alternative routes in Germany and abroad
Frequently Asked Questions
1-1) Are passengers endangered when the
vehicle is lowered onto skids in an emergency?
Should the vehicle be lowered onto skids in an emergency or in the case
of power failure, this will happen at a very low speed (10 km/h). The
vehicle will then coast on the skids until it stops just like a sledge.
The landing skids are coated with a special material which
provides a coefficient of sliding friction of 0.1 when it gets into
contact with a steel sliding surface. The frictional heat produced is
dissipated by the vehicle. It suffices to melt any layer of ice, so
normal friction conditions and thus optimal deceleration values are
achieved. There is no danger of the vehicle
catching fire due to the frictional heat produced during landing because
on the one hand, the frictional heat is too low and, on the other,
non-combustible materials are used in the vehicle.
1-2) Can the superspeed maglev system
operate in winter?
The icing of the overhead lines which may interrupt the operation of
conventional railroad systems is impossible in the case of the
superspeed maglev system because it has neither overhead lines nor power
collectors. The propulsion components of the superspeed maglev system
are installed in a protected position under the guideway table where
neither snow nor ice can gather. Additionally, hardly any snow remains
on the guideway even if snowfall is heavy because it is blown away
either by constant train operation or (in particular where the guideway
is elevated) by the wind. As the distance between the underside of the
vehicle and the upper side of the guideway table is 15 cm, the
superspeed maglev system can continue operation even if a blanket of
snow should "cake together" on the guideway up to this height. In rare
case where blankets of snow are higher, snow removers are used.
1-3) Can the Transrapid drive through
Because of the flexible route alignment elements, the Transrapid
guideway can easily be adjusted to the landscape. Therefore, far less
tunnels than for railroad are needed where the terrain is hilly.
For example, one third of the newly constructed ICE route between
Hannover and Würzburg is through tunnels (60 all in all). The superspeed
maglev route would require tunnels only on around 10% of the route.
Tunnel cross-sections required for Transrapid and ICE are
comparable for the same distances. For example, at a speed of 300 km/h
they are 86 m² for the Transrapid double track guideway and 82 m² for
1-4) Do the magnetic fields generated by the
Transrapid pose a danger to humans and the environment?
The intensity of the magnetic field generated by Transrapid systems is
comparable to the earth's magnetic field and thus far below the magnetic
field intensity of usual household appliances. A hair-drier, a toaster
or an electrical sewing machine are surrounded by magnetic fields which
are much stronger than those occurring in the passenger compartment of
the Transrapid. Outside the vehicle the magnetic fields along the route
are even much weaker. The electromagnetic fields generated by the
long-stator motor and the levitation and guidance system have been
measured by Deutsche Bundespost. They are far below the admissible VDE
limits. Negative influences on pacemakers or
plastic cards (e.g. credit cards) are thus ruled out. This doesn't apply
to the Japanese maglev system which cannot be used by persons wearing
pacemakers because the magnetic stray fields are more than 1,000 times
as strong as those occurring in the Transrapid.
1-5) How does the linear generator function?
The linear generator consists of additional cable windings integrated
into the levitation magnets in which current is induced without contact
during driving and temporarily stored in the vehicle's onboard
batteries. For electromagnetic induction the
linear generator uses harmonic waves in the propulsion magnetic field
which result from the grooves of the long stator in which the stator
cables are installed and the time variation of the magnetic
conductibility of the magnetic circuits involved.
For energy generation therefore the linear generator doesn't use
the useful magnetic field but side effects due to the grooves of the
1-6) How is the gap between the magnets and
the guideway measured?
Additional inductive gap sensors are integrated in the levitation
magnets. They are designed as independent oscillatory circuits
generating eddy currents in the stator which in turn have an influence
on the primary oscillatory circuit of the sensor. When the gap width
changes, the eddy current changes. The deviation of the electrical
signals of the oscillatory circuit is evaluated and magnetic regulation
units regulate the currents in the magnets adjust the gap width as
1-7) What are the components of a long stator
The long stator consists of two components: the stator pack and the
cable winding. A single stator pack consists
of a certain number of thin ferromagnetic sheets of steel which are
glued together and sealed in resin. Such a bundle of laminations is
1,032 mm long, 158 mm wide and about 90 mm high.
The three-phase cable winding consists of an aluminum conductor
with plastic insulation. The outside diameter is 43 mm, the
cross-section of the conductor is 300 mm². For every kilometer of route,
a factor of 2.35 of cable winding per phase is required.
1-8) What happens when a fire breaks out in
The materials used in Transrapid vehicles are modern PVC-free materials
which are incombustible and hardly heat conducting as well as burn-out
and temperature resistant. This means that the superspeed maglev system
exceeds aviation safety requirements although the requirements for its
operation are much less demanding because the train, being guided by
rails, cannot crash nor has it fuel on board or an artificial
atmosphere. Moreover, the individual vehicle compartments can be sealed
1-9) What happens when the power fails?
When the power from the mains fails during driving, the levitation and
guidance system is supplied by means of onboard batteries which are
charged without contact during driving. Therefore, the vehicle will use
its existing "momentum" to glide to the next stopping area.
Should the next stopping area be too far away, the vehicle stops
at one of the auxiliary stopping areas provided for the purpose at
regulation intervals along the guideway. The vehicle is stopped with the
aid of a non-contact eddy current brake which is also supplied from the
onboard batteries and brakes the vehicle to a speed of 10 km/h. The
vehicle is then lowered onto skids and stops after a few meters. An
emergency stop on the open track can be ruled out.
1-10) What happens when two trains meet?
When passing in oncoming traffic or through tunnels at high speeds, the
pressure acting on the vehicles is high. Therefore, the passenger
compartments of superspeed transport systems must be pressure sealed.
The necessary design features (such as pressure sealing,
air-conditioning unit design) are known and state of the art.
To determine the pressure load on the trains in oncoming traffic
and in tunnels, measurements have been taken on a gust measuring wall at
the Transrapid Versuchsanlage Emsland (TVE, Transrapid Test Facility
Emsland). The results from these measurements and from ICE operation
tests have been used to dimension the tunnel cross-sections and the
distances between the two tracks of the double-track guideway.
1-11) What is the maximum frequency supplied
to the traveling field?
The maximal frequency of the traveling field is 270 Hertz (Hz).
1-12) What is the regulating frequency of the
The current regulators of the magnetic regulation units change the
current in the levitation magnets with a maximal frequency of 100 kHz.
Because of the masses and electrical systems involved the natural
frequency of the magnetic control circuit is around 30 Hertz to be able
to reliably follow the guideway.
1-13) Why are attractive magnetic forces used
for levitation instead of repulsive forces?
Repulsive technologies would require the use of permanent magnets or
superconductors. The technical requirements for both solutions are
higher than in the case of attractive magnetic forces where just one
side of the system needs to be equipped (in the case of the Transrapid
the moving part, i.e. the vehicle). The system which is especially
expensive in the case of repulsive magnetic forces in combination with a
long-stator linear motor is gap regulation. Superconductive coils such
as those used in the Japanese system require permanent cooling, the
levitation forces become sufficiently high only after a certain speed is
reached and the great gap of 10 cm generates high magnetic stray fields.
An additional disadvantage of permanent magnets is their great
2-1) Can mobile phones be used in
In contrast to the Japanese maglev system, the intensity of the
magnetic fields of the Transrapid system is comparable to the earth's
magnetic and thus far below the magnetic field intensity of usual
household appliances. A hair-drier, a toaster or an electrical sewing
machine are surrounded by magnetic fields which are much stronger than
those occurring in the passenger compartment of the Transrapid. Outside
the vehicle the magnetic fields along the route are even much weaker.
The electromagnetic fields generated by the long-stator motor and the
levitation and guidance system have been measured by Deutsche
Bundespost. They are far below the admissible VDE limits.
Negative influences on pacemakers, plastic cards (e.g. credit
cards) or mobile phones are thus ruled out.
2-2) Can the superspeed maglev system run
off the rails?
The vehicle encompasses its guideway, so it cannot run off its rail.
2-3) Can the superspeed maglev system used
to transport goods?
The superspeed maglev system is suited to transport valuable express
goods that can be packed into containers. Special vehicles are available
for freight traffic. The freight sections can be combined to form
goods-only trains and mixed trains carrying both passengers and freight.
Each freight section has a capacity of 17 t. The operating speeds of
freight vehicles and passenger vehicles are the same.
The maglev system is not designed to transport heavy and bulk
goods because it isn't reasonable to transport coal, ore, steel or oil
at 500 km/h.
2-4) Do you have to wear a seat belt or
support yourself during starting, braking or driving?
For reasons of comfort the acceleration and deceleration of the
superspeed maglev system (< 1.0 m/s²) corresponds to that of
short-distance transport services (up to 1.3 m/s²). However, comfort is
mostly affected by jerks (meaning sudden changes in acceleration) as
experienced in trains, for example when switches are passed over. There
are practically no such jerks in the Transrapid, so you can enjoy your
ride and move freely around the vehicle at any time.
2-5) Does the superspeed maglev system
require additional traffic routes?
In order to cope with growing traffic volumes and in particular
relocate a substantial part of the traffic from roads (passengers and
goods) and air to railborne transport, the attractiveness of railroad
systems needs to be enhanced by means of higher speed and, consequently,
shorter journey times. This requires new tracks both for the ICE and for
superspeed maglev systems, because the ICE cannot reach its speed (250
km/h) on existing railroad tracks. Rather, the ICE is a "normal train"
and not a high-speed system where it uses existing tracks. However,
thanks to its favorable route alignment parameters, the Transrapid
guideway can be bundled with existing traffic routes in most cases.
2-6) How is the guideway kept clean?
Neither rain nor snow or hail lead to any restrictions in the
operation of the Transrapid system. The upper side of the Transrapid's
guideway is designed in such a way that it is a plane surface, so that
drainage is guaranteed for any type of route alignment. For a straight
this means that the guideway is designed with a 2 %, so that drainage of
the smooth and plane surface is via the sides.
2-7) How is the superspeed maglev system
tested in practice?
The superspeed maglev system is being tested in long-term operation
under realistic conditions on the Transrapid Versuchsanlage Emsland
(TVE, Transrapid Test Facility Emsland) since 1984. This unique facility
provides a closed course with two loops and a total length of 31.5 km, a
test center and test vehicles. Until today the TR06, TR07 and TR08 pilot
vehicles have covered more than 725,000 km on the single-track TVE. As
most wearing mechanical components have been replaced by
electromechanical and electronic components, they can be tested in
parallel with the operation on the test facility on special test stands
with realistic simulation of the stresses.
These tests with several thousands of operating hours mean a total
"running performance" of more than 600,000 km.
2-8) How many passengers can a Transrapid
The vehicles comprise a minimum of two sections. Each section seats
around 90 passengers. Therefore, a vehicle consisting of two sections
offers up to 180 seats at a length of 51 m.
However, an upper limit is defined by the length of the station
platforms, so a vehicle will not be longer than ten sections. This means
about 900 seats without affecting the operating speed.
2-9) Is the superspeed maglev system ready
Following comprehensive testing and evaluations, a team of experts
from Deutsche Bundesbahn and leading university institutes under the
management of the German Federal Railway Authority in Munich has in a
final expert opinion in December 1991 declared the superspeed maglev
system ready for technical application without any restrictions. Thus
the Transrapid is the world's first superspeed maglev system ready for
operation. The expert opinion certifying
"readiness for technical application" applies to the vehicle, the
levitation and guidance system, the propulsion system, the power supply,
the operation control system, the communication system, the guideway and
the switches, and the system technology (safety, sound emission,
aerodynamics). All sub-systems and components have been tested and
evaluated with regard to operatability, reliability, availability,
safety, operation control, flexibility, failure tolerance,
maintainability, environmental compatibility, system compatibility and
comfort requirements. The Transrapid is the
first railroad system ever that has been analyzed, tested and evaluated
in such a comprehensive way by independent experts.
2-10) Is the Transrapid favorable only at
very high speeds?
Of course, the Transrapid can also be applied at much lower speeds.
At lower speeds still considerably higher than the maximum speeds of
modern wheel-on-rail systems, the other system advantages such as lower
energy consumption, lower wear and substantially less sound emission are
particularly beneficial. Adding to this is that the Transrapid can
accelerate much faster than wheel-on-rail systems without restrictions
of comfort and therefore reaches its speed after a very short distance.
2-11) May transrapid vehicles collide?
The guideway of the superspeed maglev system has no crossings. Other
traffic routes usually pass under the Transrapid guideway, therefore the
train cannot collide with other vehicles. The principle of the
long-stator motor also prevents collision of Transrapid vehicles
traveling at different speeds (running into a slower vehicle) and
frontal collision, because the vehicle and the motor's traveling field
always move synchronous, i.e. at the same speed and in the same
direction. Moreover, only the guideway motor section on which the
vehicle is moving is in operation.
2-12) To what degree (angle) can a
Transrapid train climb?
As the propulsion system is installed in the guideway, the motor
power for peak requirements can be sized to fit the local topography. In
this way its possible to climb steep grades of up to 10 %.
2-13) What distances between the stations
are required for the superspeed maglev system to make full use of its
As a rule, superspeed maglev stations can be provided at shorter
intervals than in the case of railroad at the same design speeds without
affecting journey times, because short acceleration and braking
distances are possible without any restrictions of comfort. For example,
the superspeed maglev system requires just 5 km to accelerate to a speed
of 300 km/h from a standing start. A modern wheel-on-rail system such as
the ICE requires about 30 km to reach the same speed from a standing
2-14) What does "readiness for technical
This means that the superspeed maglev system holds no system risks
and safety risks as a whole and with regard to its sub-systems, that the
necessary investments can be calculated with sufficient accuracy and
that the planning and approval procedures required can commence. With
the certification of readiness for application, one of the most
important prerequisites for the inclusion of application routes into the
new German Federal Master Plan is met. The
results of a comparative study by the Federal Ministries of Transport
and of Research and Technology, Deutsche Bundesbahn, Deutsche Lufthansa,
Deutsche Eisenbahn Consulting GmbH, Dornier GmbH and Versuchs- und
Planungsgesellschaft für Magnetbahnsysteme mbH (MVP) on the basis of
model routes show that the new railroad system is economically viable.
Additionally, it has been found that the superspeed maglev system is
quieter than other railroad systems at the same speed, consumes
specifically less energy and requires comparably less space for its
2-15) What happens when a switch is not
Switches are set taking account of safety aspects, as in the case of
conventional railroad. A switch can only be set after the train has
passed and the set of switches has been subsequently blocked. Only after
the switch is correctly set in the new position and locked, and after
this has been verified by signals, can the set of switches be released
for the next train. If this condition is not met, the train is
automatically stopped at the calculated stopping distance, so it comes
to a halt before the faulty switch.
2-16) What happens when the vehicle breaks
The Transrapid vehicles are designed in such a way that they will
head for the next station in an emergency. This concept is based on the
idea that, for example in the case of a fire or similar event, the
stopping areas will provide the best means of help. Newly constructed
railroad tracks are also designed in such a way that the train cannot
stop at any section of the route because not all places are suitable to
rescue passengers (e.g. tunnels). When the propulsion system fails (due
to land-line network breakdown) it is not necessary to leave the
2-17) What is "broken traffic"?
When different transport systems are connected, changing is
unavoidable. This applies even today when the most appropriate and
fastest means of transport is used (e.g. car/short-distance service ->
railroad and vice versa or car/short-distance service/railroad ->
airplane). Even within a single transport
system passengers often have to change, e.g. from one train to another,
to reach their final destination. An average of 50% of train passengers
have to change at least once. In many European cities such as Paris
passengers additionally have to change stations frequently and the
Japanese Shinkansen high-speed trains even consists of several separate
2-18) What is the minimum interval at which
maglev trains can operate?
At the moment we are reckoning on a minimum interval between trains
of 5 minutes. This interval length is mainly defined by safety
requirements and regulations. Limitations exist with regard to the
clearing and formation times of the individual guideway segments due to
the operation control system and switch setting times. The frequency
also depends on the operating concept and the desired speed.
2-19) What is the Transrapid's curve
The curve radii of modern high-speed systems result in dependence on
the speed and the maximum possible superelevation of the guideway to
compensate for the centrifugal forces occurring. The Transrapid's
guideway can have a maximum superelevation of 12 degree (up to 16 degree
in special cases) which allows smaller radii at higher speeds than in
the case of conventional wheel-on-rail systems.
- Minimal radius: 350 m
- 200 km/h: 705 m
- 400 km/h: 2,825 m
- 500 km/h: 4,415 m
2-20) What is the width of the guideway
pitch between two rails?
The distance between two rails depend on the speed of the trains.
The guideway pitch (distance between the centrelines of two
maglev guideways) is:
- up to 300 km/h (186 mph): 4.4 m
- up to 400 km/h (248 mph): 4.8 m
- up to 500 km/h (310 mph): 5.1 m
2-21) What is the width of the track gauge?
The track gauge is 2.8 m.
2-22) What limits the Transrapid's maximum
There are hardly any technical limits with regard to the maximum
speed. In general, limiting factors are economical because the
expenditure required to reach higher speeds is not in proportion with
the benefits to be gained. Possible maximum speed is generally limited
by aerodynamics. In particular in oncoming traffic, the air pressure
generated at speeds far higher than 500 km/h is similar to that
occurring when the sound barrier is broken. This could be handled by
providing appropriate distances between the guideways, by single-track
construction or, similar to the Swiss project, by installing the system
in pipes which are free from air which eliminates all aerodynamic
effects. Another precondition for higher speeds is more exact
construction to equalize the forces interacting between the vehicle and
the guideway. For example, the beam per-curvature would have to be
reduced and the general route alignment parameters such as curve radii
and gradients would have to be altered to minimize possible transverse
and vertical acceleration forces. Provided
that the guideway is appropriately constructed, gap regulation of the
magnets does not restrict the maximum speed.
2-23) When is the superspeed maglev system
ready to go into production?
The development of the new railroad system has been completed and
the system has been ready for production since 1995, so construction of
the first German superspeed maglev route could start from a technical
point of view.
2-24) Who is inspecting the Transrapid and
gives official approval for operation?
As in the case of conventional railroad the Eisenbahnbundesamt (EBA,
Federal Railway Authority) near Bonn is the competent sovereign and
independent authority for the Transrapid. The
EBA uses approved experts such as universities, engineering firms and
Technical Inspection Associations. Approval is given on the basis of the
Magnetbahn Betriebs- und Zulassungsordnung (MbBO, Maglev Construction
and Operation Ordinance).
2-25) Why operating speeds up to 500 km/h?
The planning and development works for the Transrapid system have
been based on the design speed of 400 km/h, because this allows day
trips on nearly all connections in the Federal Republic of Germany with
journey times of less than three hours and a minimum stay of six hours
at the destination. Where this is possible without considerable extra
cost, increasing the speed to 500 km/h results in even better use of the
traffic potential by relocating traffic from private cars to the
superspeed maglev system. Increases beyond this speed would bring no
additional benefits and are therefore not reasonable although this is
2-26) Will passengers profit from the
Transrapid even if their place of departure or destination is not near a
Considerable reductions in journey times can be enjoyed not only by
passengers on direct Transrapid connections but by all train passengers
due the inclusion of Transrapid routes on the existing high-speed
the superspeed maglev system compete with Deutsche Bahn?
The superspeed maglev system is not competing with Deutsche Bahn
(DB). On the contrary: the superspeed maglev system provides DB with an
additional modern product to crucially enhance and improve the
attractiveness of its services while at the same time allowing it to
reduce its operating costs. Additionally, the superspeed maglev system
improves DB's competitive position with regard to freight traffic. On
the one hand, because the Transrapid itself can transport express goods
and, on the other, because tracks are relieved from part of the
passenger traffic. This deallocates capacity which is urgently needed to
cope with the still growing demand for freight traffic and to relocate
more goods from the road to the rail.
3-2) What is the difference between
the Japanese and the German superspeed maglev system?
Superspeed maglev systems consist of different possible combinations
of a magnetic levitation system and a non-contact propulsion system. In
Germany, almost all possible combinations have been developed and tested
until 1977 before the decision was made in favor of the current system.
In contrast to the German Transrapid that encompasses its
guideway and is pulled towards the guideway table from below by its
electromagnetic levitation system, the Japanese Chuo Shinkansen runs in
a U-shaped guideway and is held in its track from the sides by an
electrodynamic levitation system (repulsive principle). Superconductive
coils in the vehicle cooled with liquid helium generate very strong
magnetic fields which induce an inverse magnetic field in the passive
reaction coils in the guideway. Beyond a speed of about 100 km/h these
fields are sufficiently strong to suspend the vehicle. Up to that speed
the Chuo Shinkansen moves on wheels. The
Transrapid's gap width is 8 to 10 mm, that of the Chuo Shinkansen 10 cm.
Both trains are propelled by means of a long-stator motor in the
guideway. Disadvantages of the Japanese
technology are the high costs, the high technological expenditure for
the high-temperature superconductors and the extreme magnetic fields
inside the vehicles. Additionally, the unregulated levitation system of
the Chuo Shinkansen means much less comfort. An advantage is that is
earthquakeproof. The combination also tested
in Germany until 1977 of an electromagnetic levitation system and a
short-stator motor in the vehicle has been further developed in Japan as
HSST (High Speed Surface Transport). However, this system is not suited
for high speeds and therefore only considered as a short-distance means
4-1) Can the guideway run at grade?
The elevated guideway is not required by the system but it is
reasonable for ecological and topographical reasons. However, where this
is necessary for reasons of noise protection or acceptance, the guideway
is built at grade. The at-grade guideway also consumes less soil than a
railroad track and small animals can pass under the guideway plate as
there needs to be a clearance for constructional reasons.
4-2) Can the noise produced by the
superspeed maglev system be further reduced?
The potential for a further reduction of the sound emission by
optimizing the vehicle's aerodynamic properties is considerable. For
example, the sound levels of the Transrapid 07 where between 4 and 5 dB
below those generated by the Transrapid 06 test vehicle.
Additionally, the accelerating power of the superspeed maglev
system offers the possibility to flexibly adjust its speed to the
requirements without increasing the journey time. The Transrapid can
hover into city centers through residential areas at a speed of 200 km/h
and is then quieter than sub-urban trains.
4-3) Can the superspeed maglev
system relieve air traffic and thus contribute to reducing the
environmental damage done by air traffic?
The superspeed maglev system is in particular attractive for air
passengers. Effective journey times are roughly the same and safety,
comfort and accessibility of its terminals in connection with other
transport systems additionally speak in favor of the Transrapid. Due to
this attractiveness, a considerable part of the domestic air traffic can
be relocated to the superspeed maglev system.
Relocation of the air traffic to the environmentally friendlier and
energy-saving combination of wheel-on-rail and superspeed maglev system
results in a corresponding relieve of the environment and a reduction in
energy consumption. This effect cannot be achieved by the railroad
4-4) Can the Transrapid guideway be
bundled with existing traffic routes?
Traffic routes can become a burden on the environment. Therefore,
route alignments for superspeed maglev systems are planned to run along
existing traffic routes (freeways, railroad tracks) wherever possible.
Bundling of the superspeed maglev system's guideway with existing
traffic routes is made possible in particular by the flexibility of the
route alignment parameters (high gradients and narrow curve radii
4-5) Can wild and other animal's
unrestrictedly cross the superspeed maglev guideway?
In contrast to roads and rails, the (elevated) guideway of the
superspeed maglev system doesn't prevent game, amphibians and small
animals from crossing. Collision with these animals is therefore ruled
out. The at-grade guideway, too, provides a clearance under the guideway
plate because of construction requirements where small animals and
amphibians can pass. Due to the height of the guideway table, collision
with game is not possible. Experience gathered during the operation of
the Transrapid Versuchsanlage Emsland (TVE, Transrapid Test Facility
Emsland) which mainly runs through agricultural land shows that cows and
other animals quickly get used to the traffic and show no reaction such
as flight etc.
4-6) Do the foundations of the
guideway columns affect the water resources or ground water?
It is one of the essential advantages of the superspeed maglev
guideway (at-grade and elevated) that it doesn't affect the water
resources. The intervention in the ground required for the column
foundations are minimal compared to conventional construction. Usually,
surface foundations are installed which are not even as deep as a normal
cellar. Pile foundation is necessary in some exceptional cases only. As
the regular guideway in contrast to roads and railroad tracks doesn't
make it necessary to change the topography of the terrain, no drainage
ditches like those for other traffic routes are required.
4-7) How "loud" is the superspeed
In contrast to all other ground transport systems, the Transrapid
doesn't make any rolling or propulsion noises thanks to its non-contact
technology. Only when its speed reaches 250 to 300 km/h aerodynamic
noise (wind) will become perceivable. At a usual distance of 100 m to
buildings the peak sound level at 250 km/h is just 71 dB(A) and thus
almost entirely vanishes in the ambient noise, compared to around 80
dB(A) of inner-city road traffic. Levels are even some dB lower in the
case of at-grade guideways. Increases in the
sound levels result from the wear of wheels and rails in the case of
conventional railroad which according to DB are restricted to a maximum
of 6 dB by regular grinding of the rails where newly constructed tracks
run near residential buildings. Thanks to its non-contact technology,
the Transrapid rails are not subject to wear and therefore its sound
levels do not increase.
4-8) How is noise measured and what
does dB(A) mean?
Whether or not a noise is felt as being pleasant or annoying depends
on a persons individual valuation. Such subjective sensations cannot be
measured objectively. What can be measured, though, are noise levels,
i.e. pressure variations in air generated by a source of sound. Sound
pressure levels are measured in dB(A). This uniform international unit
of measurement models the sensitivity of our hearing. The scale reaches
from 0 dB(A) (threshold of audibility) to 130 dB(A) (threshold of pain).
The decibel scale is logarithmic, i.e. an increase of 10 dB(A) is felt
as a doubling of the loudness level. Sound levels of common noises:
- 0 to 20 dB(A): practically only audible under laboratory conditions
- 20 to 30 dB(A): ambient noise far from towns and roads with no strong
- 40 to 60 dB(A): conversation at normal volume
- 60 to 65 dB(A): radio/TV at moderate volume
- 70 to 90 dB(A): city traffic
- 100 dB(A) and more: disco/pneumatic hammer
- up to 130 dB(A): jet engine at a distance of 100
4-9) How much energy does the
superspeed maglev system consume?
At comparable speeds, the Transrapid consumes around 30% less energy
than the high-speed ICE. In other words, with the same amount of energy
the superspeed maglev system provides a third more performance. Road
traffic consumes 3.5 times and short-distance air traffic 4 times more
energy than the superspeed maglev system (at 400 km/h) referred to the
same transportation volume.
4-10) Is it necessary to have a
service road running alongside the guideway?
A service road is only required during construction but not after
completion of the guideway. Parts of the service road along the
Transrapid Versuchsanlage Emsland (TVE, Transrapid Test Facility
Emsland) have been pulled down. Where they have been kept, this was not
for system-related reasons as a service road is required neither for
safety nor guideway maintenance (maintenance is from the guideway).
4-11) What are the advantages of the
No grass grows where concrete tracks or beds of broken stone are
built. And even though the eye has long accustomed to the sight,
embankments, walls, roads and rails cut through the landscape and affect
water resources, mesoclimate, fauna and flora. Therefore, every new
kilometer of traffic routes means a burden on the environment.
The Transrapid's guideway built on slender columns consumes less
space and neither cuts through the landscape nor through grown
structures. The surface under the guideway can still be used, e.g. for
agriculture or other traffic. There are no "dead surfaces" as in the
case of bridges and embankments. Small game and amphibians can pass
under the guideway and biological life dependencies are not cut up. In
contrast to embankments and walls, the Transrapid's guideway doesn't
affect the mesoclimate. An service road running alongside the route is
5-1) What does it cost to built the
The investment required for a superspeed maglev system is comparable
to the investment for the guideway of high-speed wheel-on-rail systems.
The comparison of route investment costs is the more in favor of
the superspeed maglev the more difficult the terrain is, because the
favorable route alignment parameters allow flexible adaptation of the
guideway to topographic conditions, so that in contrast to railroad
expensive special civil structures such as tunnels and embankments and
cuts are rarely needed.
5-2) What does it cost to operate the
The Transrapid can be operated at considerably lower costs than other
comparable traffic systems where the cost of personnel, maintenance,
repair and energy are the main factors. All in all, the specific costs
of operating the superspeed maglev system are just about half of what
operation of conventional railroad long-distance traffic costs.
For example, the non-contact technology is almost non-wearing
(the main cause of mechanical wear is friction to which the superspeed
maglev system is not subjected). Wearing mechanical components are to a
large extent replaced by non-wearing electronic and electromagnetic
components, the vehicle's load doesn't act on points (as in the case of
axle loads of trains) but on the guideway as line load distributed over
the entire length of the vehicle. Additionally, the specific energy
consumption (per seat) is lower than that of any other comparable
ThyssenKrupp Transrapid GmbH]
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1) Project Status:
1-1) Have there been any major changes since the Public Hearings?
No. However, since the Public Hearings, much time has
been devoted to reviewing and analyzing the public input and comments
received. Work on refinement of the alignment along the 54-mile
corridor, and conducting all necessary engineering and technical support
for the environmental investigations that will help the Project team
determine the preferred build alternative for the Project is in process.
A draft of the Projects Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is
being developed. For further information please see the "What's Next"
area of this website located on the Home Page.
1-2) What has happened since the Public Hearings?
Following the conclusion of the public comment
period, all public testimony on the DEIS was submitted to the FRA. Once
the Final Environmental Impact Statement is complete, the FRA must issue
a Record of Decision in order for the Project to advance the engineering
and design. This phase could take a few years to complete. Once federal
approvals and funding is in hand, construction would follow. Future
progress on the PA Project remains subject to federal approvals and
1-3) What is next for the Pennsylvania high-speed maglev project?
Maglev's route through Allegheny and Westmoreland
counties is just the first step in what could potentially be an
inter-state high-speed maglev transportation system. Future plans call
for an extension of maglev's guideway east through the mountains to
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capitol, on to Philadelphia and potentially
the northeast corridor of the state. The trip from Pittsburgh to
Philadelphia would take less than two hours. There are also extension
capabilities to Cleveland and West Virginia and to other destinations in
the North Eastern corridor of the United States. All potential future
extensions will need to be the subject of further maglev studies,
federal approvals and future funding availability.
2) Draft Environmental Impact Statement /
2-1) What is a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
identifies the environmental preferred build alternative for the
Pennsylvania Project. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has
authorized its publication after numerous alignments were studied and
evaluated and significant feedback was obtained from the public,
community leaders, elected officials and a variety of agencies regarding
the proposed project. Prior to identifying the environmentally preferred
build alternative, several different alternative alignments within the
corridor were studied using criteria that examined each alignment's
potential social, economic, environmental and transportation impacts as
well as federal requirements for high-speed maglev technology. The
environmentally preferred build alternative was also compared with a
no-build alternative, which took into account the region’s adopted
long-range transportation plan without a high-speed maglev system. This
environmental analysis, documented in the DEIS, remains available for
review, and includes study outcomes related to noise, air quality,
electromagnetic fields, public input, cultural and natural resources,
ridership assessments and revenue estimates, among other study aspects.
2-2) Why haven't I heard anything about the project lately?
As the environmental work has progressed, the public has been
informed through public meetings, newsletters, Web site updates and
small group meetings, among other communication efforts. Since the
Public Hearings the PA Project team has incorporated the oral testimony
and written comments – and the analyses of and responses to those
comments – obtained during the 60-day public comment period into the
project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Work on the FEIS,
including additional engineering and the identification of the preferred
alternative for the PA Project, is expected to conclude in 2007. After
public review of the FEIS, it will be submitted to the Federal Railroad
Administration (FRA) for final review of all environmental work
associated with the project. The FRA may consider issuing a Record of
Decision (ROD) once funding for the project is more certain.
2-3) Can the public still comment on the DEIS?
The public comment period for the Pennsylvania High-speed Maglev
Project DEIS ended on December 7, 2005. Following FRA approval of the
Projects Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) a notice of
availability will be published in the Federal Register and a comment
period will begin for the FEIS.
2-4) What is the environmentally preferred build
As a result of comments received from the public, local community
groups and suggestions presented by elected officials, the project team
conducted in-depth environmental reviews of several alignments and has
identified the A5 South, B4 West and C6 alignments as the
environmentally preferred build alternative in the DEIS. Following the
Public Hearings the environmentally preferred build alternative will
undergo additional study, detailed analysis and further refinement. The
54-mile corridor was divided into three sections for planning and study
purposes - Pittsburgh International Airport to Downtown Pittsburgh
(Section A), Downtown Pittsburgh to Monroeville (Section B), and
Monroeville to Greensburg (Section C). Each section was evaluated for
impacts to natural resources, social and cultural features, as well as
engineering feasibility, operational characteristics and compliance with
high-speed maglev regulations. The environmentally preferred build
alternative is shown on the map in green along with the proposed
2-5) How was the environmentally preferred build
Each alignment under consideration for the Pennsylvania High-speed
Maglev underwent extensive analysis through identified screening
criteria as part of the public process of the Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS). The public also played a vital role in finalizing the
most environmentally feasible alignment for the project. The EIS
documents each alignment’s natural and historic resources, as well as
the impact on endangered species and wetlands. It also takes into
consideration the location of parks, wildlife, historical and
archaeological sites of national, state or local significance,
agricultural land, as well as homes and businesses. Analysis of noise
levels, air quality and energy consumption will also be identified. The
DEIS identifies the environmentally preferred build alternative. When
the FEIS is issued it will identify the preferred build alternative for
2-6) Where will the stations be located?
The project would connect Pittsburgh International Airport to
Downtown Pittsburgh, Monroeville and Greensburg and would include five
station locations. The station locations include: Two stations at the
airport area (One at the Landside Terminal and one at Enlow Road (Route
60) that includes a separate station for commuters as well as air
travelers); the Steel Plaza station located in downtown Pittsburgh; the
Thompson Run site in Penn Hills near Monroeville; and a station at Toll
66 and PA Route 136 near Greensburg. Stations would be accessible to
people with disabilities, feature adjacent parking areas and have
convenient connections to other modes of transportation.
2-7) What will happen to my property if it will be
needed to construct the project?
Two laws govern acquisitions for State or federally assisted
projects. Both the Pennsylvania Uniform Eminent Domain Code 1964, P.L.
84 as amended and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property
Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. (42 U.S.C. 4601) are laws
enacted to ensure that persons displaced as a direct result of State,
Federal or Federally assisted projects are treated fairly and equitably
so that such persons will not suffer disproportionate injuries as a
result of projects designed for the benefit of the public as a whole.
(49CFR Subtitle A 24.1(6)). The Port Authority of Allegheny County and
the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are conducting the
Environmental Impact Statement. The Federal Railroad Administration is
the federal agency overseeing the project’s development. The Agency that
will acquire the property will be determined once the Pennsylvania
High-speed Maglev Project is selected for construction. Property owners
would receive fair market value for any property, including land or
buildings, which is required for the Pennsylvania High-speed Maglev
Project. To determine the fair market value, a qualified appraiser will
evaluate the property, using the best information available. The
appraiser considers recent property sales in the neighborhood and
community, as well as building costs and land values. During the on-site
appraisal, property owners may want to accompany the appraiser to point
out any unusual features on the property or to provide information that
they think may help determine its value. Once the appraisal is complete
and approved through an independent review process, negotiations are
ready to begin. Negotiations are a crucial stage in the acquisition
process. Successful communication is essential. An Agency representative
will visit the property owner to explain the project and the amount of
property required. The Agency representative will tell the owner the
amount of the appraisal and discuss how the value was calculated. If
there are any questions about what is being acquired, how much
compensation is offered or how the construction will affect the
remainder of the property, they can be addressed to the negotiator.
Owners will have time to consider the offer, and the negotiator will
contact the owner again to discuss the offer and answer any questions.
2-8) What impact will it have on the environment,
noise, energy usage, EMF, etc..?
Measurements of the Transrapid maglev system vibration, noise and
electrical field emissions were conducted at the test facility in
Germany in August 2001. These results were developed into a report that
was issued by the FRA for use in the environmental process.
Since the Maglev vehicle has no contact with the guideway, the only
noise is that generated by the aerodynamics of the vehicle. The sleek
aerodynamic design of the vehicle means even at speeds in excess of 300
mph (500 km/h) the noise remains at levels lower than that of high-speed
trains. The use of noise abatement techniques will also be employed to
meet local requirements in residential and other sensitive areas where
the Maglev vehicle passes.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF):
The levitated air gap for the Transrapid International high-speed Maglev
is very small - about 3/8 of an inch. This small gap keeps the
electromagnetic field very well confined and greatly reduces the extent
of the electromagnetic fields. The measured field strength of the
Transrapid's stray magnetic fields is extremely low. It is comparable
with the residual strength of the earth's magnetic field and therefore
several hundred times lower than that of many household appliances.
There is no fear of interference with pacemakers or other life
2-9) We hear alot about eminent domain today. What
impact will maglev have on our communities?
Because of the nature of the system, the fact that it is elevated and
has a small "footprint", it often can use existing right-of-ways
(abandoned rail lines, along highways, etc.) along some portions of its
route that already intersect our community. In addition, because of its
high speed (300 mph), it is possible to bypass some densely populated
areas and still be effective and efficient. These factors make
High-Speed Maglev one of the least disruptive transportation system that
can be implemented to assist in solving our regions major transportation
problems. Obviously, there will be some situations that in order to
maintain safety, high speeds and efficient and comfortable travel, we
will not be able to avert some disruption, but again, it should be less
than new highways or other potential solutions. A dual guideway maglev
system has the passenger carrying capacity of a ten lane highway yet
uses less than fifteen percent of the land required for a four lane
3-1) What is maglev and how does it work?
Maglev is a type of transportation technology that utilizes
electromagnetic force to propel vehicles on a guideway without the need
for rails or wheels. Maglev is short for magnetic levitation. Maglev is
one of the fastest modes of ground transportation in the world. The
Transrapid maglev technology is being proposed for the Pennsylvania
High-speed Maglev Project. The Transrapid technology was first developed
and deployed in Germany more than 20 years ago. The technology continues
to be tested in Lathen, Germany with more than 650,00 visitors having
traveled in excess of 750,000 miles. The Transrapid maglev vehicles ride
over a fixed guideway and are supported, guided and propelled using
conventional electromagnetic force. The Transrapid technology does not
use super conductors, (materials that conduct electricity without
resistance at very low temperatures), nor does it require cryogenic
cooling (super cooling of materials by the rapid evaporation of volatile
liquids or by the expansion of high pressure gases at low pressures).
The vehicle has no physical contact with the guideway therefore there is
no mechanical wear of the guideway. Since the propulsion system is
located underneath the guideway, maglev can operate in all types of
weather. The vehicle can move at speeds in excess of 310 mph (500 km/h)
and can climb grades of up to 10 percent, which is three times greater
than conventional steel wheel rail technology.
3-2) How safe is the maglev system?
The Transrapid Maglev system is not only one of the fastest modes of
ground transportation but it also the very safest. Because of the unique
vehicle design that wraps around the guideway, derailment is not
possible. Although the Maglev operates at high speeds, there is no need
for passenger safety belts. Much of the guideway can also be elevated
above existing right-of-way making collision with other modes of
transportation impossible. In addition, the control system of the Maglev
excludes the possibility of two maglev vehicles colliding. This is
because the traveling electromagnetic field in the guideway that propels
the vehicles always moves the vehicles in the same direction and at the
same speed. A faster vehicle cannot run into the back of a slower
vehicle nor is it possible for two vehicles to meet head on. This is
because the power is only turned on in the section of guideway the
vehicle occupies. Independent experts have also examined the safety of
the Transrapid Maglev system. Their conclusion is that the Maglev system
is the world's safest means of transportation.
3-3) What is the current status of this
The Transrapid high speed Maglev technology is proven and has been
certified ready for commercial in-service deployment. Over 750,000 miles
(1,200,000 km) of test service have been completed at a 20 mile (32 km)
test track in Lathen, Germany with over 650,000 passengers carried. The
Transrapid maglev system is also installed in Shanghai China and went
into revenue service operation in 2003. This 19 mile (30 km) Transrapid
maglev system carries passengers from the Pudong International Airport
to Long Yang Road Station in the financial district of Downtown Shanghai
at speeds in excess of 265 miles per hour. The trip takes approximately
eight minutes. The system has served over 13 million passengers
traveling more than 2.6 million miles in revenue service operation with
a system availability of 99.86 percent. After reaching agreement on
financing in September 2007 all parties are gearing up for the final
requirements definition phase and subsequent final, firm quotes for a 20
mile Maglev project in Munich, Germany. A decision on the German legal
planning process is expected in early 2008 and the system could go into
construction as early as the second half of 2008. This would allow the
start of commercial operation at the latest in 2014 dependent on the
final commissioning and certification requirements of the German
3-4) What are the differences between high-speed
maglev and the low speed system?
High-speed maglev was developed in Germany and has gone through more
than 20 years of testing and operations. It has also been evaluated by
the U.S. Department of Transportation and has been found ready for
implementation in the United States. The vehicle can move at speeds in
excess of 310 mph (500 km/h) and can climb grades of up to 10 percent.
Low speed maglev, has similar mechanical and operational characteristics
of high speed maglev, however low-speed maglev only reaches a maximum of
35 - 50 miles per hour. The low-speed maglev technology is being
explored for implementation at California University of Pennsylvania and
Old Dominion University in Virginia.
3-5) What are some operational features of
high-speed maglev comparied to high-speed rail?
Some of maglev's key operational features include:
- The ability of maglev vehicles to climb steep grades and operate on an
elevated fixed guideway.
- The speed of a maglev vehicle is based on the frequency of the
electromagnetic fields in the guideway. The Transrapid vehicle is
designed for speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h) and has been tested
at speeds of 311 mph (500 km/h). By comparison, the maximum practical
speed of a high-speed rail system is about 185 mph and the average
operating speeds is about 150 mph.
- The vehicle utilizes the electromagnetic field in the guideway to
propel and guide it.
- The guideway provides a dedicated right-of-away for the vehicle
eliminating the possibility of collision with other vehicles.
- The elevated maglev guideway system utilizes 85% less land per meter
of travel when compared to a high-speed rail system.
4) General Project:
4-1) What is the Pennsylvania Project?
The Pennsylvania High-Speed Maglev project is an approximately
54-mile maglev line connecting Pittsburgh International Airport,
Downtown Pittsburgh and Monroeville and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, with
multi-modal stations at these locations. The entire trip, from the
Airport to Greensburg, would take approximately 35 minutes including
stops. The $3.7 billion project is estimated to generate up to 10,000
temporary jobs and approximately 1,000 permanent jobs in the region.
These estimates do not include spin-off jobs from enhanced tourism and
the high-tech business climate. Many opportunities include manufacturing
and fabrication jobs related to an anticipated need for 200,000 tons of
United States produced plate steel required to build the guideway.
4-2) Who is involved in this project?
The Pennsylvania High Speed Maglev Project is a Public/ Private
Partnership between PennDOT, The Port Authority of Allegheny County and
MAGLEV, Inc. in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration.
4-3) What will the benefits be to Pittsburgh and
The development of the Pennsylvania High Speed Maglev System will
offer many benefits to Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. Some of these
benefits will include:
- Reduction in highway traffic congestion and delay times
- Reductions in airport traffic congestion and delays
- Extension of the airport to other rural areas of the state
- Economic growth in the form of jobs, new industry start ups, real
estate and land development
- True intermodal operating service to riders with access to other modes
of transportation including rail, automobile, taxi, bus, etc.
- Improvement in the commuter quality of life by reducing the delay
associated with alternate means of transportation.
- Air quality improvement due to reduction in pollutants associated with
other means of transportation.
- Improved mobility and commerce between Pittsburgh and other areas of
- The prestige associated with the installation for this new high
technology transportation system will translate into new interest by the
public and business. Properly promoted, Maglev will add to Pittsburgh
and Pennsylvania's stature for national conventions, tourism and
4-4) How can the public get invovled or comment on
Please feel free to contact or write letters to the editor and your
elected officials: local, state and federal government to support this
vital project for Pennsylvania and the U.S.
4-5) Why maglev versus other types of
Maglev's key advantages over high speed rail and other modes of
transportation are its hill climbing ability, rapid acceleration, low
noise, zero emissions, dedicated right away, low land use requirements
and lower energy usage. The hill climbing ability of the Maglev system
is more than three times that of a rail system. This eliminates or
greatly reduces the need for tunnels. The speed of a Maglev vehicle is
based on the frequency of the electromagnetic field in the guideway. The
Transrapid vehicle is designed for speeds in excess of 311 mph (500
km/h) and has been tested at speeds of 311 mph (500 km/h). By comparison
the maximum practical speed of a high-speed rail system is about 185 mph
and the typical operating speeds are about 150 mph. The acceleration and
deceleration of the Maglev vehicle is four times that of traditional
rail systems, permitting the vehicle to make stops without excess time
loss. Due to the non-contact of the vehicle with the guideway, the
primary noise generated is the aerodynamic noise of the vehicle. At low
speeds (below 125 mph) the Maglev vehicle makes almost no noise. The
vehicle utilizes the electromagnetic field in the guideway to propel and
guide the vehicle with no emissions from the vehicle itself. Elevating
the guideway provides a dedicated right away for the vehicle eliminating
the possibility of collision as well as delays associated with other
modes of transportation. The elevated Maglev guideway system utilizes
85% less land per meter of travel when compared to a high-speed rail
system. If the guideway is placed at grade, the Maglev land usage is 16%
less than high-speed rail per meter of travel.
4-6) How much will this project cost?
The cost of constructing the system has been estimated to be
approximately $3.7 billion (in 2003 dollars), including all capital
costs and associated roadway improvements. Project costs will be refined
prior to the ROD and the projects financial plan will be updated.
4-7) What is the cost of a maglev system versus
other modes of transportation?
When compared to the airplane, automobile, and high-speed rail, the
Transrapid Maglev system utilizes significantly less energy per
passenger mile. This results in a significantly lower operating cost for
the Maglev system. By floating above the guideway, Maglev eliminates
friction which saves energy and lowers maintenance costs associated with
4-8) How long before I see construction activities
and when will the system be available for service?
Upon approval of the Final EIS a record of decision must be issued
by the FRA. It is anticipated that construction of the airport to
downtown segment would be completed approximately five years later.
4-9) How much will it cost to ride the system?
Will commuter parking be available?
Details of the costs for riding the system will be developed based
on the ridership demands and alternative transportation modes. Because
the operating costs of high speed Maglev are lower, the fare costs will
be highly competitive to promote ridership and maximize the benefits to
the user. Parking facilities and other passenger amenities are being
considered in the overall project plan and will be identified in detail
as the plan nears completion. Parking facilities will be developed in
such a manner as to facilitate efficient transfer of passengers from
automobile to Maglev. Current costs are estimated to be $5.00 to travel
between stations with parking for the first 24 hours included in this
4-10) How long will it take me to travel between
High-speed is one of the many benefits of maglev. The proposed
maglev system would operate between the Pittsburgh International Airport
and Greensburg, with intermediate stops in Downtown Pittsburgh and Penn
Hills / Monroeville. Travel time from the airport to Downtown would be
approximately 11 minutes. Travel from Downtown Pittsburgh to Monroeville
would be approximately 11 minutes. Finally, travel from Monroeville to
Greensburg would be approximately 10 minutes. A trip along the entire
proposed 54-mile system would take approximately 35 minutes including
stops. There is potential for extensions of the system in the future,
• A trip from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg will be approximately one hour
and 30 minutes;
• A trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia will take less than two hours;
• A trip from the Pittsburgh Airport to Wheeling will be approximately
4-11) How were ridership numbers determined?
Two studies were conducted to estimate the ridership of the proposed
high-speed maglev system. A national panel of experts recommended by the
Federal Railroad Administration reviewed these ridership surveys. The
final ridership numbers will continue to be refined based on
recommendations from the panel. Details of the current ridership
estimate are available in the DEIS. Further refinement of the ridership
estimate will also be presented in the FEIS.
4-12) What is the passenger capacity of one
Each Transrapid vehicle section will accommodate approximately 100
to 130 people. The Pennsylvania Project proposes to begin operation with
three section vehicles which would carry approximately 350 passengers.
Stations will be constructed to accommodate up to a five section
vehicle, so there is the potential to accommodate additional passengers
and vehicles when warranted.
4-13) How often will it run? Schedule?
The Pennsylvania High Speed Maglev will be run as a commuter system
within the region and as an intercity system as the line is extended.
Schedules will be adjusted for peak rush hour periods as well as through
travel for express service between locations. Details of the service
operating frequency will be coordinated with other modes of
transportation, with the Maglev stations serving as an intermodal
transport location to light rail, bus, taxi, limousine service, etc. The
initial rush hour schedule will call for vehicles each 8.5 to 10 minutes
for a total of six to seven vehicles per hour. During non-rush hour the
schedule will be adjusted for four to six vehicles per hour or less
dependent on demand.
4-14) What will the vehicle lenghts be?
Due to the anticipated compressed nature of the travel demand for
high-speed commuter service, all consist lengths will be assumed to
initially be 3 section vehicles with growth to 5 section vehicles as
demand requires. The anticipated compressed nature of future commuter
travel habits will have the capability of handling peak demands in
excess of 600 commuters every 8.5 to 10 minutes, with adequate upward
4-15) Does high-speed maglev work well for trips
between cities at high speeds, but not work well over short distances at
Does high-speed maglev work well for trips between cities at high
speeds, but not work well over short distances at lower speeds? Maglev
operates equally well at both high and low speeds but it is primarily
marketed as an intercity transportation mechanism. However, the
Pennsylvania Project will really be a commuter-type operation that will
become an intercity operation as the system is extended.
4-16) Are other parts of the United States
interested in high-speed maglev?
There were originally seven sites in the United States competing for
the Maglev funding. In January 2001, the FRA narrowed the competition to
only two projects: The Pennsylvania Project and the Baltimore Washington
Project. The other sites were encouraged to continue finding other
sources of funding to advance their projects.
4-17) What is the long-term plan for maglev?
Maglev's route through Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties is just the
first step in an exciting new high-speed transportation line. Future
plans call for an extension of maglev's guideway east through the
mountainous to Harrisburg, the state capitol, on to Philadelphia and the
northeast corridor. The trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia would take
approximately 90 to 120 minutes depending on stops.