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  (Source: Aktuality.sk)
Test track needed to be more than doubled in size to accommodate full speed runs

Japan Railway Comp. (JR Tokai) (TYO:9022) (aka. "The Central Japan Railway Comp.)  is responsible for ferrying close to 400,000 passengers a day between some of the largest cities in central Japan.  While its fastest bullet trains can cut the transit time from Tokyo to Osaka from about 6 hours by car to about 2 hours and 20 minutes by bullet train, JR Tokai is dreaming of a next generation maglev system that could go even faster, completing the 500+ kilometer (310+ mile) journey in under an hour.

I. Meet the Chuo Shinkansen Maglev, a $90B USD Project

To do that it's been creating a superconducting magnetically levitated (SCMaglev) train design (a type of electrodynamic suspension Maglev), which travels along a U-shaped track at speeds of up 505 km/hr (311 mph).

To achieve that goal much work had to be done.  While the fundamental idea behind a magnetically levitated vehicle was first devised and patented in the U.S. in 1905.  Magnetic levitation is appealing in some ways -- with no moving parts, it has low maintenance costs, and some kinds of Maglev designs (such as JR Tokai's) self-stabilizing reducing the chance of the kind of crashes that plague high-speed rail-based trains.

Chuo Shinkansen route
Chuo Shinkansen route
Views of the proposed Chuo Shinkansen test route. [Image Source: TRIC/TAS]

But the cost of building a track is high -- very high.  JR Tokai estimates that it will costs ¥5T ($50.9B USD) to build the line from Tokyo to Nagoya alone, and as much as ¥9T ($91.7B USD) to complete a full line from Osaka to Tokyo, linking Japan's four largest cities (Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, and Tokyo).

II. Four Decades of Development is Finally Paying Off

By the 1970s -- when JR Tokai first began to toy with Maglev designs -- one crucial variable had fallen into place: cheap, reliable electricity.  But it need to perfect the physics of its travel mechanism to reach speeds high enough to make it worth building the expensive track, particularly when bullet trains were already on the table.
JR Maglev
The JR Maglev design gets its power from the wound wire in the track.  Superconducting magnets in the train induce magnetic fields in the wound wires, propelling the train at speeds of up to 311 mph.

By 1979 it had completed an unmanned test platform, capable of reach speeds of 517 km/hr (321 mph).  But it took a decade to develop sufficient safety controls and aerodynamics to start construction on a test track.  Construction of the The Yamanashi Maglev Test Line began in 1990 in the town of Aichi, near the city of Nagoya.  The track using wound coils along the track which are powered by local substations.  The train is equipped with superconducting magnets, which induced a magnetic field in the powered coils.  

Maglev development
The Chuo Shinkansen project has been in the works for decades.

This magnetic field drives the trains along the track at high speeds.  Since this is an SVMaglev style line, trains must first reach a certain speed using retractable wheels before the magnetic forces become powerful enough to drive the train once the train reaches around 30 km/h (19 mph).  The retractable wheel launching and landing process thus bear some similarities to an airplane takeoff/landing.

Between 1990 and 2008 the 18.4 km (11.4 mi) track saw test runs by MLU002N and MLX01 test engines.  To test the designs JR Tokai gave away free rides on the track.  An estimated 200,000 passengers were carried on these free rides.

III. Longer Test Track Allows Tests With More Cars

In June of this year the extension of the test track was completed.  The track is now more than twice as long as before, reaching a length of 42.8 km (26.6 mi) and also incorporates new features that are commonly necessary in Japan's mountainous landscape, such as tunnels.  The test track is at last ready for expanded testing of the Series L0 prototype, a front car co-designed by JR Tokai and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (TYO:7011).  

Completed in 2008 the Series L0 prototype features a 28 m (92 ft) front car capable of hauling multiple 25 m (82 ft) passenger cars, dubbed "L0 cars".  Each L0 car carries up to 68 passengers, with a stubby rear car carrying only 24 passengers.

Series L0 train
The Series L0 Front Car [Image Source: JR Tokai]
 
Tests on the 42.8 km track began on Thursday in Japan, with five L0 cars coupled to the front engine, for an entire train legnth of 153 m (502 ft).  The train succesfully reached a top speed of 505 kilometers per hour (311 miles per hour).

Japan's transportation minister Akihiro Ota was among the passengers to test the new track.  He remarks:

I experienced the ride at 505 kph.  My body felt the sense of speed, but it was not at all uncomfortable and conversation was possible as usual. There was not much vibrating.

This [success] provides pride and hope as a technology power, and it will also be important in dealing with natural disasters. We want to provide support for the realization of this technology.

The next step will be to complete an environmental impact study to ensure there's no glaring issues with the track, which is expected to pass through both densely populated regions and the Japanese alps.  If that goes well the test track will be further extended and 9 new L0 cars will be built, allowing for test runs with up to 12 total L0 cars (for a total train length of 228 m (748 ft)).

L0 in action
The L0 with a three car test on Thursday [Image Source: Jun Kaneko]

The finished design will feature 14 L0 cars, plus the front car and rear car, a design capable of hauling 908 passengers.

IV. JR Tokai Wants to Bring Maglev to the U.S.

JR Tokai is hoping to have the entire multi-billion dollar Osaka-Tokyo line complete about a decade later, in 2027.  The full line will be dubbed "Chuo Shinkansen".  While the Japanese government funded much of the early research and development in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, JR Tokai is fulling paying for the commercial line deployment itself.

Long a leader in high-speed rail, Japan has recently seen fierce competition from its rival, China.  China currently owns the only other active commercial maglev system in the world, a line in Shanghai.  China is moving aggressively forward with its high speed rail expansion plans, despite the embarassing setback of having to scale back its line speeds from record paces due to allegations of contractor corruption leading to shoddy construction.

The U.S. is currently pondering a maglev system of its own, but such plans remain in their early infancy, with few large commercial backers. U.S. maglev supporters should be cheering the Yamanashi line, as one of the most hopeful efforts in the U.S. -- The Northeast Maglev (TNEM) -- is backed by JR Tokai.  The TNEM is planned to connect Washington D.C. and New York City with a high speed maglev, passing through Baltimore, and Philadelphia along the way.

TNEM
JR Tokai is helping with TNEM, a proposed U.S. line connecting New York and Washington, D.C.

JR Tokai chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai promises, "We want to export technology completed in Japan to the United States so that it becomes the international standard."

Source: AJW



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Good of the people
By HostileEffect on 9/1/2013 9:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to see state or federally funded projects like this that actually benefit the host state in for the long run, on top of creating real jobs. But no, instead we get disgusting waste on social and entitlement programs, among so many other things that were never in the responsibility of government.




RE: Good of the people
By amanojaku on 9/1/2013 9:48:23 PM , Rating: 3
A lot of people would argue that projects like these are waste, as well. So far, railways haven't shown themselves to be financially viable, as seen in Amtrak, which is federally funded, and New York's subway, which is funded by city and state taxes. The number of jobs created will be minimal, as well, as trains tend be be highly automated, and many stations are not staffed. Heck, we haven't even got a national or fully intra-state railway based on traditional trains. No way people would pay a premium for maglev.


RE: Good of the people
By Mint on 9/2/2013 3:10:11 AM , Rating: 1
Indeed. Entitlement programs are hardly a waste (relative to Maglev, at least) when they're spent on things people need to consume anyway, like healthcare and food. Cut back on medicare and people waste more resources by going to the ER, and if you prevent the latter people die.

I disagree, however, that public transportation si proven financially unviable because it requires subsidy. How much would it cost society to get all those people in buses or insured cars instead? How much would have to be spent on expanding roads to accomodate them? If there's no room for wider roads, then what is the productivity cost to everyone when we have increased gridlock from more cars/buses? How much will parenting suffer when income earners waste more time in traffic?

Maglev does seem too expensive for what it brings to the table. I really like Musk's hyperloop idea because it makes the track cost way less without needing magnets/coils along the whole length for levitation.


RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/2/2013 8:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
Problem is the hyper loop can't move enough people. Musk predicts - what, some eight million people a year? I'm assuming that's a best case scenario.

Cost in relation to total passengers is a more useful way to compare. Rail-based solutions have a big advantage there.


RE: Good of the people
By flyingpants1 on 9/2/2013 12:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
There's no magic number limit on the amount of people you can shoot through a tube.


RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/2/2013 2:24:55 PM , Rating: 3
Excuse me but that's an incredibly vapid statement. Passenger density DOES matter, it is a reality. Tubes, like rails, have a finite theoretical max capacity.

The Hyperloop simply can't compete with high speed rail or maglev when it comes to meeting large-scale transportation needs. Japan and China need transit that can move hundreds of millions of people yearly.

And I'm just using Musks numbers, no bias here. That's what the man said!


RE: Good of the people
By Solandri on 9/2/2013 6:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's no magic number limit on the amount of people you can shoot through a tube.

Right. That's why there's no such thing as traffic jams on our freeways.

The limit on the number of people you can transport in a given amount of time is just the parallel capacity times the speed divided by the spacing between consecutive vehicles.

Those are also the ways you can increase capacity. Transport more people at once (bigger plane, longer train, widen the freeway), increase the average speed, or reduce the space between consecutive vehicles.

The last one is why Google, the NTSB, and CalTrans are so heavily researching autonomous cars. Remove human reaction time and add communication between cars, and you could conceivably shrink space between cars at highway speeds to a few feet. A highway which could carry 10k cars/hr with a 200 foot separation could have its capacity increased 9x if you could reduce that to a 5 foot separation.

The same thing has also been proposed for airliners. Right now they try to keep planes separated by 5 nautical miles horizontally (at the same altitude). But air traffic has increased so much that there have been proposals to decrease that distance to increase capacity.


RE: Good of the people
By Yojimbo on 9/2/2013 4:07:42 AM , Rating: 4
The idea isn't to create jobs, it's to build an infrastructure. People seem to forget that all the roads are government-funded as well. There aren't even any tolls on most of them to even TRY to break even, so if we did the same "financial viability" test you are applying to Amtrak, they would fail horribly. How do you expect Amtrak to be able to break even in order to be "financially viable" when it's competing against something so heavily subsidized as the federal highway system and state and local roads, and the services which benefit from these subsidies (buses, etc)?


RE: Good of the people
By Paj on 9/2/2013 8:33:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, railway genrally isn't well developed in the US. France and Germany have excellent public railways though - extremely fast, reliable, modern and cheap. They are also run as public concerns, with some private partnership in some cases. A good model to follow.


RE: Good of the people
By Solandri on 9/2/2013 6:42:34 PM , Rating: 3
The US invested in freeways instead of railways. Given how distributed the US is compared to Europe, it was probably the right choice. The number of possible trade transport routes in France is tiny compared to the U.S. because there are so many possible destinations here. The number of possible routes increases as a factorial of the number of points. Above a certain number of points you're wasting too much time waiting to switch trains, whereas with a car you simply take the next exit to get on a different highway.

That doesn't mean a freeway is always the best choice in the US. The major cities on both coasts pretty much fall in a line, and should (and are) connected by railroads. The problems are (1) they're competing on cost with subsidized highways, and (2) the top speed of trains here is about the same as a car. Consequently Amtrak quit trying to compete based on convenience, and instead began charging more (in some cases a train ticket is even more expensive than airfare between the same cities) and billed itself as a "scenic" or "relaxing" way to travel. Taking the train here is more akin to a cruise on an ocean liner, rather than a "get it over with as fast as I can" airplane, or "what's the cheapest way to get there" car.


RE: Good of the people
By ShieTar on 9/3/2013 3:24:44 AM , Rating: 4
The German Autobahn system isn't exactly a set of farm tracks when compared to the US freeway system. The overall use of trains corresponds to about 10% of the use of roads (each in Passenger-Km) in both France and Germany. It's not a replacement-option, but an add-on.

The correct comparison to the train is the plane, I think. Take the route Munich-Paris for a random example.

The ICE & TGV take you there in just 6 hours, and if you plan a little the ticket costs you 190€, or less with special offers and customer discount cards. And there is an update planned of the TGV route which will cut off another half hour. Both train stations are right in the middle of the city. And you spend the time sitting in a rather comfortable chair, and you usually have a table for your laptop or board game or newspaper. Oh, and the food from the bistro is usually slightly better than what you get on a plane.

Of course, a plane trip itself only takes 1:40. Of course you are asked to get to the airport about 2 hours before arrival, and need easily half an hour to get out of the plane and the airport. Even now that there are no passport controls within the Schengen area anymore. And then you need another half hour on each side to travel between the airport and the city. So you safe about 1 hour vs the train. On the other hand, you spend a lot of time just waiting and standing in lines, and the seats are much less comfortable. Also, for this specific route, there is no cheap Ryan Air etc. option, so you pay 500€ to Air France.

All three options are well established in Germany and France, and used according to preference and situation. Cars are used if you need to go cheap with a group of people, i.e. cram 8 students into an VW bus and drive 24 hours to the Spanish coast. Trains are the preferred option for people traveling on their own, or business people not wanting to have to drive after already working for 10 hours. Or just people who don't own a car, which was unheard of 20 years ago, but is getting much more common these days. Planes are used for the obvious reasons, e.g. its 2000 miles away, or its an island.

Development costs for the railway are in reality not much of a problem. I think the economical value of the goods transported on the rail alone makes it an intelligent investment for the government. It certainly provides for half of the 40 billion € revenue of the Deutsche Bahn, and the overall company continues to produce a healthy profit (1.5 billion last year) for the nation.


RE: Good of the people
By Paj on 9/3/2013 8:32:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The number of possible trade transport routes in France is tiny compared to the U.S. because there are so many possible destinations here.


Within France, you're probably right. However, many national train networks in Europe now integrate with one another, meaning that its possible to board a high speed train in London and end up in France or Belgium, and vice versa, with minimal border controls. This has similar ramifications for freight. The German, Belgian and French high speed networks are all integrated, which means freight can be moved around much faster compared to roads.

High speed rail would be ideal for the eastern/western seaboards in the US, which has a massive population density.
(as Musk's proposed Hyperloop system claims to cover in California).

There's less of a case to be made for an East-West line, where the number of more sparsely populated cities poses problems for coverage as you mention.


RE: Good of the people
By Jeffk464 on 9/2/2013 10:57:22 AM , Rating: 2
Really, you don't see New York's subway as a useful project?


RE: Good of the people
By FITCamaro on 9/2/2013 11:51:52 AM , Rating: 2
It's useful for the people of New York City. So they should be the ones paying for it. Not the entire nation. Same goes for transit systems in every state.

The test of whether the federal government should fund something is not whether or not it is a good idea. It is whether or not it is constitutional and the federal government has the power to do it. Any mass public transit system grossly fails that test.

But hey laws are just suggestions right? If we don't agree with them, we just don't follow them and then complain about being punished.


RE: Good of the people
By Yojimbo on 9/3/2013 9:53:48 AM , Rating: 2
That seems like a clerical issue. If I understand correctly what you are saying, it's OK to subsidize a type of infrastructure that everyone uses, but if part of a region's infrastructure is of a type that isn't used everywhere, then the people not living in that region are being shortchanged because they are paying into a pool that funds a type they don't use. Think about it: Although everyone uses roads, not everyone uses roads in Mississippi, so when the Federal Government is subsidizing roads in Mississippi they are paying for something that is not useful to them. Sure if someone visits Mississippi and wants to get around, or wants to get through it, it would become useful, but the same could be said about the subway for anyone visiting New York City.

The logical way to look at the whole thing would be to decide how much infrastructure investment it makes sense to put into a particular region (a very political issue, I'm sure), and then use that money in the various regions how it appears to best suit the needs of the region, whether it be highways, or mass-transit, or camel trails.


RE: Good of the people
By Samus on 9/2/2013 3:26:41 PM , Rating: 3
You do realize Amtrak essentially rides on 200 year old rails? The top speed of those track segments is 90mph with average cruising speed around 70mph. There are rare occasions where Amtrak can burst over 100mph on straightaways, but its negated by the number of stops (like city buses, too many) and the old locomotives that take forever to decelerate/accelerate.

This country is entirely capable of connecting with 20th or 21st century train architecture, much like Japan, China, Korea and essentially all of Europe, who all have trains that travel nearly 200mph safely and inexpensively (compared to aircraft)

No, it won't be "faster" than an airplane, but for most short distances, it doesn't have to be. The lack of ridiculous security, baggage check, dealing with airport BS and getting to the airport in the first place makes alternative travel a more practical option for <1000 mile travel. But air travel is obviously more practical if you are in New York or Chicago and want to get to LA or San Francisco, because the geography of the Rockies makes travel by road/rail time consuming.

Maglev and second-generation bullet trains are essentially what the jet engine was to aircraft of its day. It revolutionized mainstream air travel in the 60's and 70's. We don't need a Concorde of the railway, but having modern technology on rail would be benificial for everybody in this country. Virtually all first-world countries subsidize their railway infrastructure, much like we subsidized our air travel infrastructure after 9/11, and continue to subsidize railways and roadways.


RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/2/2013 3:46:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize Amtrak essentially rides on 200 year old rails? The top speed of those track segments is 90mph with average cruising speed around 70mph.


Which begs the question, if we all wanted to ride trains, how did the rails get in that state to begin with?

American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.

Why can't some people just accept that in America, the automobile is the gold standard for personal transportation? We would rather drive than have to take a goddamn train that's all cramped with strangers. Being on a plane is bad enough, but at least that's fast.

quote:
The lack of ridiculous security, baggage check, dealing with airport BS and getting to the airport in the first place makes alternative travel a more practical option


Yeah right. The first time someone blows up a train, say hello to the TSA. The "T" stands for trains, right? :)


RE: Good of the people
By ritualm on 9/2/2013 8:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.

Why can't some people just accept that in America, the automobile is the gold standard for personal transportation? We would rather drive than have to take a goddamn train that's all cramped with strangers. Being on a plane is bad enough, but at least that's fast.

Which begs the question: if USA is indeed a nation of automobiles, WHY is the maximum highway speed limited to 55mph in most places? Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Railroads are great for doing two things:
1) move lots of goods from point A to point B over large distances; freight by water is awful slow, while air freight is very expensive and is better suited for time-sensitive goods like mail and live animals
2) move lots of people from point A to point B quickly over short distances i.e. densely populated areas

Railroad stations are often built near dense residential and business areas of large cities, not out in the sticks like airports.

Cars are absolutely great for moving small amounts of goods/people from point A to point B. That's it.

If USA has a more integrated and extensive mass transportation infrastructure, there is less of a need to use cars other than out-of-town excursions and the like. Local smog conditions improve considerably. Less worries of gridlock during rush hour. And it's so much cheaper to begin with.

My car insurance costs $3000 a year. If I can go out and buy groceries without driving, you god damned bet I would, but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.

And, thanks to the likes of such people as you who need a metric ton of "personal space" to stay comfortable, even half-baked solutions as simple as surface-level streetcar transit is being seen as a bad idea.

Want to see how bad a gridlocked highway is? Come to Toronto, Canada. We have a 16-lane highway that cuts across the city. It's also part of the single busiest stretch of highway in all of North America. The best part? gridlock on all 16 lanes.

Oh and by the way, go live in Hong Kong for a month. The "car as gold standard" you speak of does not exist.


RE: Good of the people
By M'n'M on 9/2/2013 9:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Which begs the question: if USA is indeed a nation of automobiles, WHY is the maximum highway speed limited to 55mph in most places? Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Actually the majority of states have 70 or 75 MPH max speed limits. Mostly it's the NE states that retain the old 55/65 compromise from the Clinton years. The same states that exhibit high levels of Nannyism.

Also I would say that high speed rail competes more with the airplane that the car. Commuter rail competes with the car.


RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/3/2013 12:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Maybe not for long...
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/09/01/1624235/eu...

The rest of your post is so poor and full of straw men, there's really nothing else to respond to. You're not even American, but you're blaming Toronto's traffic on "people like me" mindset? Why don't you build your own rail solutions then. I'm sure as hell not stopping you!

Toronto's problem is you've increased your population growth by nearly 50% in a few short years. This is unheard of in America. People are moving OUT of the big cities because the suburbs are where you want to be. Traditionally most Americans don't live in major cities, we're way way spread out.

But in Canada apparently the opposite is happening. The suburbs and smaller communities are dying, and everyone is cramming themselves into small densely populated major cities. You people have more than ample land mass, but apparently totally SUCK at utilizing it.

quote:
but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.


You say that like it's a bad thing.


RE: Good of the people
By Wulf145 on 9/3/2013 2:32:08 AM , Rating: 2
German Speed Limits:
The EU try this every couple of years - it never goes anywhere.

Greeting from Bavaria


RE: Good of the people
By ritualm on 9/3/2013 11:26:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The rest of your post is so poor and full of straw men

Yours read like that a majority of the time. Jealous much?
quote:
You're not even American

And with that, you have immediately invalidated all arguments of your own.

Then again, I'm unsurprised that Americans have such strong opinions against outsiders who can say their system sucks.
quote:
but you're blaming Toronto's traffic on "people like me" mindset?

Because, sh!tforbrains, Canada is more or less identical to USA. If you think the situation with US wireless carriers is bad, look at us in the north. Robellus (a.k.a. Rogers, Bell, Telus, the big three wireless carriers here) don't want Verizon to enter the Canadian market because it would create much-needed competition!
quote:
You people have more than ample land mass, but apparently totally SUCK at utilizing it.

So you advocate paving every square mile of Canuckistan with asphalt and concrete. You're an idiot.
quote:
You say that like it's a bad thing.

It is a bad thing. You just haven't had any experience of having to make do without one yet.

Get into a car accident that results in one of your arms losing mobility and flexibility, which directly impacts your ability to drive, let alone carry significant weight i.e. bags of groceries.

"It will never happen to me! Maybe for you!"
- Reclaimer77

Very poor choice of words.


RE: Good of the people
By Nfarce on 9/3/2013 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If USA has a more integrated and extensive mass transportation infrastructure, there is less of a need to use cars other than out-of-town excursions and the like. Local smog conditions improve considerably. Less worries of gridlock during rush hour. And it's so much cheaper to begin with.


Well I hate to break the news to you, but we Americans LOVE our cars. They are not only a NEED but they are a STATUS symbol for many of us and a personal expression of who we are. They are a PART of American culture. It's been that way since the post-WWII boom. Same with suburbs as RC77 stated. Most of us don't want to live in the crime-infested, drug-infested, and corruption-infested metro cities around the nation. Instead, we prefer the quiet suburbs to live our lives and raise our children.

quote:
If I can go out and buy groceries without driving, you $#@! bet I would, but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.


In the US you can live in any major city without a car. Many do, and they just rent cars when they need them. But again, most of the American population is outside of the major metro cities. I live outside of Atlanta, and my friends are sprawled all over the city. The closest one is 20 miles away or a 30 minute drive. The closest grocery store is 10 miles, and the closest major retail shopping area is 15 miles away. There is no way the pipe dream of public transportation could even REMOTELY put a dent in the needs of suburbia.

And yes, I like my "personal space" so fascists like you who want to tell the rest of us how to live through government mandates because you believe it affects YOUR lifestyle can go pound the sh|t out of sand!


RE: Good of the people
By ShieTar on 9/3/2013 10:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.


Meh, its 8500 miles from Lisbon to Vladivostock. Never heard of the Trans-Siberian railway line?

I'm going to assume that the comment about one lane cobblestone roads is supposed to be a joke? Germany alone, with just a quarter of the US population, spends more than half as much on roads as the US. You are not only allowed to drive 150mph on our Autobahn, you can also technically do it without any worries about the road quality. And one lane is rare on a county-road connecting the city-center with the industrial park, or the next sports arena. You'll never see it on an interstate road.


RE: Good of the people
By FITCamaro on 9/2/2013 10:29:20 PM , Rating: 2
What makes you think the government isn't going to mandate security checks for a giant, several ton bullet going 200 mph?


RE: Good of the people
By purerice on 9/1/2013 10:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
In theory I agree with you but in this case something is fishy. Existing bullet train lines run along population dense areas maximizing ridership. This new line would go through sparsely populated areas and unless the starting and endpoints are directly at Tokyo Station or Osaka Station, the total door to door time is probably 4 hours not 2 hours. So you make that 3 hours instead of 4 hours but charge 50% more for the ticket. The increased revenue will only be the difference between the old ticket price and new ticket price as most sales will be cannibalization of existing business.

Japan's greatest need right now other than more children is more energy. Spending $90billion on energy production would make more sense to me, assuming they had to spend $90billion that they don't have.


RE: Good of the people
By Solandri on 9/2/2013 6:50:51 PM , Rating: 3
You're forgetting that this is a loss-leader for research into mag-lev technology. Right now the trains are powered by electric motors which means efficiency losses, exposed high voltage lines, and moving parts that wear out. Mag-lev would operate by switching electromagnets on and off - no moving parts. So it potentially could save a lot of money on maintenance and wear and tear in the future.


RE: Good of the people
By kiwehtin on 9/2/2013 11:09:37 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't work by switching electromagnets on and off. Superconducting maglev works in two ways: the propulsion technology and the suspension technology.

The propulsion technology is a linear synchronous motor: current is fed in sequence to one segment of the guideway after another (not to the whole guideway unlike with standard electric rail catenaries) so that the current attracts and repels the on-board superconducting magnets in quick alternation, thereby driving the vehicle forward. The frequency at which the alternations take place determines the speed of forward motion: the speed is synchronous with the alternations of current in the section of guideway.

The suspension technology relies on the power of the superconducting magnets, once they move past the guideway loops at over 30 km/h: above that speed, the movement of the magnets past the loops induces current in the guidance loops, which creates an equal repulsive magnetic field. The configuration of the windings creates a "null flux" circuit, i.e. one that automatically seeks an equilibrium position for the passing superconducting magnets that reduces electrical flux in each winding circuit to zero: if the vehicle's magnets rise too high, that induces current in the upper side of the windings that automatically generates a repulsive magnetic field on that side, repelling the on-board superconducting magnets back downward. Similarly, if the superconducting magnets deviate downward from the equilibrium position, that side of the windings automatically generates an equal countervailing magnetic force that restores the magnets upward to the equilibrium position (nominally about 2 cm below a position absolutely centred on the figure-8 windings).

Lateral stability is provided by a third set of windings, again distinct from the electrically-powered propulsion windings and the unconnected figure-8 vertical stability windings. Simple rectangular loops on either wall generate a magnetic field when the superconducting magnets move past them, equal in strength to the SC magnets' field. When some force (wind, centrifugal force on turns, etc.) pushes the vehicle (and its magnets) away from equilibrium position toward one of the walls, that generates an equal repulsive magnetic field that restores the vehicle to equilibrium position between the two walls.

So, apart from the initial electrical charge that creates the SC magnets, the only electricity needed to power the system is the short bursts fed into sequential segments of the guideway.


RE: Good of the people
By wordsworm on 9/2/2013 1:42:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why do you think you ought to be entitled to this technology? What makes you think your founding fathers had a maglev train in mind when they drafted the American constitution?

This is a social program: it's government money being spent for the betterment of the people.


RE: Good of the people
By TSS on 9/2/2013 9:53:02 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/home

I'd think the money would be better spent on maintaining or upgrading the existing infrastructure. You can bet on these maglev trains have a very high maintenance cost.

You do not want as much as one faulty wire when a train's going 300+ mph with 900+ souls on board. The japanese might be willing to spend that kind of money on it, afterall their train service is legendary. But the US?


RE: Good of the people
By ShieTar on 9/3/2013 3:29:27 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, the whole point of the technology is reducing maintenance cost. For classical trains, that is mostly generated by the fact that both the trains and the railways are slowly destroyed by the mechanical interaction, which leads to abrasion.

Faulty wires can trivially be handled by redundancy concepts, you just have two versions of anything you need. Or more likely and cheaper, you have a dozen when you need 10. It isn't any different from planes, you wouldn't tolerate any critical failure on a plane any more than you would on a train.


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