What is Maglev Technology? In 1904 the American scientist Robert Goddard, who was to make his name as a rocket scientist. He wrote a paper while still a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in which he proposed a frictionless form of travel by using electromagnetic repulsion to lift train carriages off their rails.
The trains would travel at fantastic speeds inside a steel vacuum tube. But it was a Frenchman who was destined to develop the theory further. On 15 March 1912, the Daily Argus, a newspaper serving the New York suburb of Mount Vernon, carried a report on a new technological marvel. Which it confidently claimed, would allow mail to be sent from here to Boston in less than an hour’.
The subject of the article was the latest invention of the French-American electrical expert Emile Bachelet. A cigar-shaped metal tube one meter long, which he had propelled down a track at the astonishing speed of 500km/h (310mph). As in Goddard’s idea, it relied on the simple principle of like magnetic poles repelling one another.
Bachelet installed powerful electromagnets in both the tube and along the rail. Some of them were used to levitate the vehicle off the track, while others drove it forward. His patent outlined how the magnets would only become charged with electricity as the vehicle passed along the rail.
Bachelet originally conceived just a small device intended to carry letters, but quickly realized that he could upscale it into a full-sized train. With British finance, Bachelet established a laboratory in London in 1914. The demonstrations he staged earned him instant fame, but his plans never came to fruition.
It was not possible at the time to generate a current strong enough to power a train. It would also have required a whole new track infrastructure next to existing railway lines. After the First World War, the German engineer Hermann Kemper revived the idea and filed a patent for a magnetic levitation train in 1934.
Yet it was the 1960s before the Japanese built the first prototype of a Maglev train, which broke a series of speed records, the last being 581km/h (361mph) in 2003. Research is still in progress. The Germans began working on their rival Tran rapid system in the 1970s, but the project was abandoned in 2008.
The only commercial Maglev service currently in operation is the German-built Tranrapidly between the Chinese city of Shanghai and Pudong International Airport. Frictionless travel The German Tran rapid 08 at the Emsland test facility in 2004. The high cost of constructing Maglev Technology has so far hampered the development of this potential mode of transport.
THE WORLD’S OLDEST MONORAIL
In 1901 a revolutionary monorail system was built by the engineer Eugen Langen in the city of Wuppertal in northern Germany-and is still running to this day. Supported by steel gantries. Electric motors with an output of 600W DC are mounted directly on the driving wheels.
Trains on the Technologically less advanced than a magnetic levitation railway. The passenger Wuppertal monorail travels along the 13.3km track at speeds of up to 50km/h (30mph). In more than a century of operation, it has carriages of the Schwebebahn (‘suspended railway”) hang below the track, which is suffered only one serious accident which happened in 1999.
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