Posting in Cities
I took a ride on the Maglev Train in Shanghai. The trip was short, only lasting less than 15 minutes. The train uses magnetic levitation technology to get people from town to the airport in record time. In a growing city, alternative modes of transport like the high-speed train can help people get around.
Last October, I was lucky enough to take a ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train. I boarded near the International Expo Center with a direct (and brief, as you'll soon discover) trip to Pudong International Airport.
I paid 50 yuan for a one-way ticket, and it took less than 10 minutes to get to the airport 30 kilometers -- about 18 miles -- away.
I was surprised; the ride didn't feel fast. The train could potentially go as fast as 268 miles per hour, but it never felt it. (It sure didn't feel like a graviton carnival ride or anything. Instead, it felt more like the smooth ride of the Amtrak Acela, once it reaches cruising speed.)
The train displays the speed for passengers to watch as they zip through the city. I watched the digital screen for virtually the entire length of the ride. I don't think we ever reached top speed.
Here's what it was like, in a video:
I looked out the window, it was clear that we were zipping by cars, homes, you name it. But faster than I've ever experienced.
When a Maglev train heading in the opposite direction brushed by us, it was hardly noticeable -- so fast, in fact, that the other train only obstructed my view for a split second.
If you're not familiar with the train's underlying technology, my colleague Andrew Nusca previously wrote about it on SmartPlanet's Smart Takes blog:
The technology at the heart of the train is Maglev, short for magnetic levitation, technology. A concept that’s been around for more than 100 years, Maglev tech entails the suspension of a train via powerful magnets to remove the friction present at the rails of conventional trains.
Maglev technology is at the heart of record-breaking bullet trains. On Monday, Chinese scientists said they successfully produced a model Maglev train that can travel as fast as a plane. Now that's one window I'd love to look out of.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- China developing 600 mph airless maglev high-speed train
- China unveils world's fastest bullet train: 262 mph
Feb 1, 2011
WHY did it never reach it's top speed? Because it's a novelty. I'm not against these trains, but, just like everyone's been saying, their utility is limited unless over a long distance. So neither this train nor Acela reach their potential. Top speed means nothing. Most cars and planes have a much higher top speed than they travel, but don't use that as marketing. What matters is how fast you WILL go. Another problem with trains is that we live in a dynamic world, with changing priorities, demographic flows, and trends. Planes and automobiles live in this world because they are point-to-point--flexible. So it's easier for them to survive. Shipping and trains are much more restricted, and always will be. So even one that travels as fast as a plane will be much less valuable, though much more expensive in initial outlay.
Don't know about the Chinese maglev line, but the high-speed train from Madrid to Sevilla had no stops & made the trip in about 2 hrs, much faster than you could drive. The thing that makes high-speed rail work is a long distance between stops. NYC - DC would work, but the Acela trans would have to run non-stop. I gather that they don't operate this way.
So, is the train a point-to-point train, or are there stops inbetween end points? The biggest problem with highspeed trains here in the states (Accella?) is that they have to come to a stop ever 10-15 minutest to take on and let off passengers...I was on the Accella once going up to NY from DC and was disappointed that the train never once broke 99mph...it only took 30 minutes less time than the regular train, and honestly the increased price for the Accella was not worth it!