Trains on magnetic suspensions


Trains on magnets are the transport of the future

Trains on magnetic suspensions move and also are controlled by magnetic forces and are called magnetoplanes or “maglev”. Movement of such a composition is different from the movement of a traditional train, since the magnetoplane does not touch the rails. There is a gap between the train and the rail, which excludes the frictional force, and therefore the aerodynamic resistance plays role of decelerating force. Today, there is no appropriate transport infrastructure corresponding to “maglev”, and for the time our radio electronics industry cannot produce such powerful relay that could approach such trains.
The speed with which the “maglev” can move can be compared with the speed of an airplane flight, which means that such “locomotives” will compete with the air transport in the future, even at short distances up to 2000 km.
The idea of such trains is new, they tried to implement it once, but the technical and economic limitations did not allow it to be realized in real life, as one of the modes of transport.

A few facts about the train on magnetic suspensions

To date, there are three main technologies for such trains’ production:

  • Using superconducting magnets;
  • With the use of electromagnetic suspension;
  • Using permanent magnets – this technology is the most affordable and economical.

The composition seems to levitate by repelling the magnets with two identical poles and attracting a polarity. This train is operated by a linear (direct drive) motor. A linear motor is an electric motor that has one element of the magnetic system open, and the other is a guide. Direct drive motors can be of low and high acceleration.

One of the serious problems that prevent to design such a train for permanent use is that a powerful magnet will have enough weight to form a powerful electromagnetic field, which should keep the composition in the air. Just imagine how good the contactors must be, so that a magnet does not influence on their correct work.

Advantages of such kind of trains

  • In theory, they will have the highest speed, which can be developed by land transport (not sports).
  • Low noise.

Disadvantages of the “maglev”

  • Very high price for the creation and maintenance of special track.
  • Significant weight of the magnet.
  • High consumption of electrical energy.
  • The electromagnetic field, which will be created by the suspension, will probably have a negative effect on people living nearby, as well as on the train driver.
  • Most likely, such trains will be impossible for people traveling with pacemakers.
  • It is difficult to control the gap (a few centimeters) at such a high speed, existing between the composition and the road. It will be necessary to create a complex track infrastructure.
  • But it is unlikely that it is possible, at least in the near future.

Attempts to implement the project

The first system of the “maglev” type was created in 1980 in Berlin, (the GDR). The length of the road was 1.6 kilometers. It had three metro stations, went from the railway station to the exhibition center on Potsdamer Street. The tests had been conducting for 9 years and in August 1989 it was opened to transport passengers. This road did not last for a long: when the Berlin Wall was destroyed, it was decided to dismantle, rebuild the metro lines, and give the terrain for construction of residential buildings.


The Maglev of usual speed had been connecting the Birmingham Airport and the railway station for almost 11 years (1984-1995). The road was closed, because the residents began to complain about the inconvenience. It was replaced by a traditional monorail.

In China and Japan, such working roads have been still existing. But doctors and environmentalists state the fact that the noise from such a train is unpleasant, annoying and not the same as with ordinary electric trains. This noise acting on a person causes such negative feelings as anxiety, irritation, and uncertainty.

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