By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Japanese officials have approved the construction of a maglev train line between Tokyo and Osaka.
Japanese officials have approved the construction of a high-speed maglev train line between Tokyo and Osaka, Environment News Service reports.
Transport minister Akihiro Ohata gave Central Japan Railway the green light last week, setting in motion a 9 trillion yen (approx. $111.4 billion) project that began in the 1970s.
The superconducting maglev train -- "maglev" is short for magnetic levitation, allowing the trains to avoid touching ground -- would cover the 320-mile span between the two cities in just 67 minutes, topping out at 313 miles per hour. Employing the opposing forces of superconducting magnets and coils to avoid rail friction, maglev trains are considered among the fastest in the world.
The 14 new Series L0 trains are expected to begin operation between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 -- a 40-minute commute -- and Tokyo and Osaka in 2045.
For now, the trains are undergoing testing on an 11-mile test track in Yamanashi, which is currently under construction to be extended to more than 26 miles.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was certainly impressed on a visit to the test track last May. He wrote on the department's Fast Lane blog:
I have to say, those trains are fast. Very fast....those of us who saw the Japanese trains are impressed with the railroad system in Japan. And we do look forward to opportunities to partner in America with experienced rail companies from abroad. But we're only interested in partnerships that use American workers in American facilities.
Here's hoping to see maglev Stateside.
Jun 1, 2011
Just spent hours looking at a lot of the data available on maglev trains and there are no solid power consumption models. They do admit to substantial power being needed for levitation during slow speed movement, but they fail to say how much and up to what speeds. The best power consumption information I found was a vague 50 to 100 kw per train section on the German developed Transrapid trains running on the Shanghai train. So a 10 car train would use somewhere between 500 to 1,000 kw. That is more than a little vague considering they failed to say how much distance or time was covered to consume that much power. Is that per mile or per 100 miles? They did go as far as to say, "Energy consumption compared favorably to other HSR trains." Usually that kind of marketing speak means consumption is higher, but close. Which means your theory of a gliding train held up by electric powered magnets being more energy efficient than steel wheels on steel rails does not seem to hold up to the practical application science. The gliding part may be more efficient, but the power to make that happen pushes it to where the savings on effort does not offset the cost. Otherwise they would have bragged about it being more energy efficient instead of using a carefully worded vague description of the power consumption. It is all smoke and mirrors until they prove it. I hope it works as you say, we sure need it too, but I am not going to condone dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into an unproven system. I would love to read hard data that supports your point ddravla if you can point me to some.
That is why I asked about the carbon footprint. No one in the HSR community will provide numbers, but I bet it is higher because you are talking electrifying hundreds of miles of rails. That takes infrastructure, which has to be maintained and powered. The root of my point is that the carbon footprint of operating 1 diesel electric train engine and it's infrastructure for 1 year is probably substantially lower than the all of vehicles used to maintain the power grid and the track magnets and the actual power plants that power that track grid. And the simple budget facts for the last 50 years show that HSR in Europe and Japan have been far more expensive to operate and maintain on a per passenger basis than the conventional trains they replaced. Rather than call people names, please show me reputable scientific studies and accounting audits that prove me wrong on either count. Or did no one ever teach you how to have a fact-based discussion?
Powering all of those electromagnets takes a lot of power. What is the carbon footprint of the power plants needed to run this thing compared to a conventional diesel electric train? Or will it feed their dependence on nuclear power, which Japan is having such good luck with. What are the operational costs of maintaining the massive power grid needed to operate this kind of train verses conventional diesel electric? Is the cost of operating this setup sustainable? My point in asking is to reflect on the state of rail service in both Europe and Japan. Both built their train service reputations on 100 - 150 mph conventional trains that were affordable to operate. Both are now bleeding money as the rush for HSR has over whelmed formerly profitable systems with outrageous maintenance costs. Why trumpet assured long term failure?
And what do you think would be more efficient? Running steel wheels on steel tracks using conventional diesel electric, or using that electricity to push a frictionless train along at high speeds. There is no massive electrical grid involved. Only the power needed to raise the train centimeters off it's track. Your handle seems to apply more to yourself than others.