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Current and Future Super Fast Maglev Trains

Updated on August 10, 2019
Rock_nj profile image

I am fascinated by rapidly developing technology and what the world will be like in the future. I hope you enjoy this peek into the future.

Magnetic levitation (maglev) train technology has been under development since the 1970s. Early versions of maglev trains had rather limited speeds that were unimpressive. That all changed in 2002 when the Chinese introduced a maglev train in 2002 to Shanghai's airport that tops out at 268 mph (431 km/h). While this speed is impressive and currently ranks it as the fastest train in the world, it is not significantly faster than traditional steel rail high-speed train technology. This speed limitation has prevented many maglev train projects from obtaining approval since traditional high-speed trains are cheaper and less disruptive to build than maglev trains

Looking out into the not too distant future, ongoing technological developments may make maglev trains much more appealing, as speeds for this ground-based method of transportation may soon rival air travel speeds.

Shanghai, China Maglev Train From Airport To Central City Station

Shanghai, China's maglev train whisks traveller to and from the airport at a maximum speed of 268 mph (431 km/h), making a 18.6 mile (30 km) journey in only 7 to 8 minutes.
Shanghai, China's maglev train whisks traveller to and from the airport at a maximum speed of 268 mph (431 km/h), making a 18.6 mile (30 km) journey in only 7 to 8 minutes. | Source

Shanghai, China Maglev Train - The Fastest Train In The World!

The Next Generation Maglev Trains Will Have Truly Impressive Speeds Comparable To Air Travel

There have been developments in maglev technology that may bring about renewed interest in building maglev train lines in many countries. The Chinese have announced maglev trains under development that can currently reach 372 mph (600 km/h), with the potential for these trains to eventually reach speeds approaching 500 mph (804 km/h), which would rival the speed of air travel.

When this super fast train is operational, it will change ground transportation forever since trains will be able to provide a travel option that is nearly as fast as flying. In some instances, these super-fast trains may be faster than flying since train stations are usually located near the center of a city, whereas airports often require some travel time to get to and from. This development may lead other countries to build their own super-fast maglev trains to meet their growing transportation needs.

Maglev Trains Under Consideration and Development In Asia

Asia is the region of the world that is taking maglev train development the most seriously with several new trains beyond the consideration stage and in the development stage.

  • China: Shanghai existing maglev train extension to Honquiao Airport and Shanghai South Railway station.
  • China: Shanghai to Hangzhou.
  • China: Chengdu and Chongqing. This line is proposed to use the latest 500 mph (804 km/h) maglev train technology. It is still being researched and tested. There is no indication regarding when it will be built.
  • India: Delhi – Mumbai.
  • India: Mumbai to Nagpur.
  • India: Chennai to Bangalore and Mysore.
  • Japan: Tokyo to Osaka. This line seems likely to be built by 2030 and will be significantly faster than the current fastest train in Shanghai, with a proposed top speed of 361 mph (581km/h).


China's Next Generation 372 mph Maglev Train

China has revealed a sleek aerodynamic prototype maglev train that is designed to travel up to 372 mph (600 km/h). It is expected to be in operation within a decade.
China has revealed a sleek aerodynamic prototype maglev train that is designed to travel up to 372 mph (600 km/h). It is expected to be in operation within a decade. | Source

Maglev Trains Under Consideration In Europe

Maglev train proposals in Europe are not new and have floundered because of their cost and the reality that current high-speed trains are comparable in speed to maglev technology. Some of these proposals may be revisited once maglev trains reach speeds comparable to air travel.

  • Pan-European Line From Central to Eastern Europe: Proposed cities to be connected include Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.
  • Denmark: Copenhagen to Århus.
  • Italy: Malpensa airport to Milan, Bergamo, and Brescia.
  • Italy: Pisa airport to the cities of Prato and Florence.
  • Spain: Canary Island of Tenerife connecting the capital Santa Cruz with Costa Adeje and Los Realejos.
  • Switzerland: The Swiss have a forward-thinking, yet untested idea of constructing a system of low-pressure tunnels for maglev trains operating at a top speed of 602 mph (1,000 km/h). This incredibly fast train system would link Switzerland's major cities, cutting travel times to just a fraction of current steel rail train technology. It is unclear if and when this project will move forward due to the fact the underground low-pressure tunnel system concept would have to be developed and tested to prove that it works and is safe.
  • United Kingdom: London to Glasgow with stops in cities in-between.
  • United Kingdom (Scotland): Glasgow to Edinburgh.
  • United Kingdom (England): Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Hull.

Maglev Trains Under Consideration In North America

While hampered by a lack of United States federal government financial and technical support, there are several plans to build a maglev train systems within the United States. The following is a list of proposed maglev train lines in North America.

  • Canada to the U.S. Along West Coast: Maglev line from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada to Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon in the U.S.
  • USA: Washington, DC to Baltimore, Maryland. This project is being spearheaded by an organization called "The Northeast Maglev." They are expecting a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision for the project to be issued by the U.S. government by 2020.
  • USA: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, with an extension to Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
  • USA: Atlanta, Georgia airport to Chattanooga, Tennessee, with a possible extension to Nashville.
  • USA: Orlando, Florida airport to the convention center and Disney World.
  • USA: Southern California to Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • USA: San Diego, California to a new proposed airport to be built well outside of the city.

Maglev Trains Under Consideration Throughout Rest of the World

Proposed Maglev trains in other parts of the world.

  • Australia: Several proposals over the years have gone nowhere, including Sydney to Wollongong and a Melbourne maglev metro line.
  • Iran: Tehran to Mashhad.
  • Puerto Rico: San Juan to Caguas.

How Maglev Trains Work

Maglev trains are elevated by several inches above the track they run along using repellent magnetic forces. Since the trains are not in contact with their running track, they are not slowed down by friction with the track. It is this separation from the running track that allows maglev trains to attain super-fast speeds that are beyond the physical limits of traditional high-speed trains.

The trains also use magnetic forces to move along the running track. A magnetic force is generated by the train and its interaction with an opposite magnetic force along the guide track causes the train to move.

Maglev Train Elevated and Moving Using Magnetic Forces

A depiction of how a maglev train uses magnetic fields to levitation and move.
A depiction of how a maglev train uses magnetic fields to levitation and move. | Source

An Explanation About How Maglev Trains Work

Maglev Train Poll

Do You Think Maglev Trains Will Play a Major Transportation Role In The Future?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 John Coviello

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wouldn't it be cool if we had one of these spanning the U.S.? Maybe a few of them? All the jobs created building the infrastructure? The stuff of the future, for sure, but also the stuff of dreams today. I hope to see it in my lifetime.

      Thanks for the information. Great article!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the interesting information. The maglev train is an interesting concept. I'm looking forward to new developments, especially as they apply to Vancouver.

    • Rock_nj profile imageAUTHOR

      John Coviello 

      23 months ago from New Jersey

      That's very cool Mary that you have ridden the Shanghai airport maglev train. As a train buff, I'd love to ride that train someday.

      I'm glad everyone found this article interesting. Maglev train technology certainly is getting to the point where it will start making a real impact on how people travel and how fast land-based travel can be completed in.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      23 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We tried the one at Shanghai airport and it was impressive. I can just imagine what the next generation will be.

    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      23 months ago from North Carolina

      So cool haha. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool stuff. California is facing real problems with this concept.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      23 months ago from UK

      These are the type of trains we envisaged in our youth, but they are taking a while to be rolled out. In the UK it takes so long to make necessary changes to adopt new technology like this.

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