Maglev trains may be tranportation's future

16:32, May 25, 2010      

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For high speed and long-distance travel, people often choose flights. With an operational speed of about 1,000 kilometers per hour, a long-distance trip by plane will consume plenty of time, economic costs and cause serious environmental pollution.

But there is a new hope. A new vehicle, the evacuated tube maglev train with nearly no noise or air pollution and an almost non-existent accident rate, is on its way. With a minimum speed of 4,000 kilometers per hour, energy consumption of the new train is less than a tenth of the plane and traveling from Beijing to Washington will take only two hours by the train.

A seminar, presented by many Chinese experts including eight academic members from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), was held on Dec. 29, 2004. The key topic of the meeting was Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT), which works by creating space-like travel conditions on the ground.

Air is permanently removed from two tubes (one for each direction) along a travel route and travel takes place without air resistance. Pressurized passenger capsules, comparable to a six-person biz jet cabin, travel in the tubes on nearly frictionless magnetic levitation tracks.

Riding ETT will be like traveling in a silent airplane in a semi-reclined position, perhaps watching a movie. The ride will be smoother than any luxury car or airplane, and not in chaotic traffic conditions or 6 miles above the ground.

Shen Zhiyun, academic member of both CAS and CAE, said during the seminar that China should target the development of high-speed ground transportation with 600 to 1,000 kilometers per hour and it will be put into operation between 2020 and 2030.

The concept of ETT, first proposed by experts from American Land Consulting and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was introduced by Zhang Yaoping, who graduated from Southwest Jiaotong University in Sichuan, and he began to promote "evolutionary transportation" in 2007.

Zhang believes the theoretical limit to the speed of the evacuated tube maglev train is close to the first cosmic speed and can reach 20,000 kilometers per hour.

By People's Daily Online


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