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Munich Maglev Transrapid

Updated on July 13, 2011

What is Maglev Train?

In simple world it is train using magnet principle and the train is “floating”.

Maglev - Wikipedia: Maglev, or magnetic levitation, is a system of transportation that suspends, guides and propels vehicles, predominantly trains, using magnetic levitation from a very large number of magnets for lift and propulsion. This method has the potential to be faster, quieter and smoother than wheeled mass transit systems.

What is Transrapid?

Transrapid is German developed maglev train which is run under Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp Transrapid GmbH.

Transrapid- Wikipedia: Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the transrapid system started in 1969.

Transrapid Prototype in Munich Airport

Inside Munich Transrapid Prototype

Munich Transrapid Prototype

My first encounter with Transrapid prototype was in Munich Airport, Germany. I used to work part time at Airport Munich so the transrapid prototype was a part of a sensation I had while heading to my working spot or during break. The prototype was located on a huge open platform between Terminal 1 –the old terminal- and Terminal 2 –the newer terminal. It stood there proudly inviting visitors to take a look.

Airport visitors may view and came in to the Transrapid Prototype. It is an information center about the project itself. Inside one finds brochures, representative, and video presentation all about the prestige project.

The purpose of the project was to cut the journey time to 10 minutes from 40minutes by normal train (called S-Bahn). It should be the shuttle train from Munich city center (main train station) to Munich Airport covering a track of 40km. It should be the shuttle that runs every 10 minutes replacing S-Bahn that runs every 20minutes.The project was first announced by Stoiber and supported by Merkel. The planned cost was 1,85 bn Euro. The future passangers might be charged with 17-20Euros for each trip, which is nearly twice as the price by S-Bahn. Due to high cost and relatively short distance for the magnet train, after a long discussion and heavy critics, the Transrapid Munich project was stopped in mid 2008.

"This is a bad day for Germany's image as the home of high-tech industry" - Beckstein, Bavarian Premier, 2008.

In Germany it was the third Transrapid project cancelled following the Metrorapid and Berlin-Hamburg project.

Now if I fly via Munich Airport, there is no more transrapid prototype that represented high-tech. When taking photos, there is no more transrapid standing there as a background. Travelers to Munich Airport have to live with 40-45 minutes journey time from city center to airport.

I personally think, it would be wiser to implement maglev trains over a longer track since the train is very fast it does not worth to use it within short distance. The same reason we dont need to use an airplane for 50km distance.

Commercial Use in Shanghai

While facing rejection in Germany, the transrapid was welcome in China.

The first (and at the moment only) commercial use using this technology is in Shanghai, a transrapid connects Shanghai city to its Pudong International Aiport. Inaugurated in 2002. Started its commercial use in 2004, it reaches speed of 501km/h (recorded in a test track in 2003). This project took 10billion Chinese Yuan or about 1.33 bn USD and 2.5 years to finish. The track is about 30km of length which will be travelled within 7 minutes and 18 seconds. After 3.5 minutes travel time, the train reaches the speed of 430km/h. This about 1.2 bn Euro expensive project was built by Chinese government and German consortium.

This maglev train runs 14 hours a day and can transport up to 400 passengers each trip. A single trip of second class costs about 7USD, which is about 10 times more than using city underground. There the train runs averagely at 267km/h, nearly half of its normal speed at 400-500km/h.

Despite the demonstrations, China planned to extend the trail to Hangzhou and to be ready when China host World Expo 2010. Another prestige project for China.


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    • bekaze profile image

      bekaze 8 years ago from Germany

      thx for dropping by and commenting Laurence, also for the review. i corrected it.

    • profile image

      Laurence E. Blow 8 years ago

      Good HubPage. I liked the Munich project, too, and was very disappointed when it was cancelled.

      One thing: The Shanghai maglev has reached "only" 501 km/h (311 mph) as its top speed, not 530 km/h.