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View Poll Results: Which form of HSR will own the 21st. century?
Conventional - wheels on rails 163 52.24%
Maglev - magnetic levitation 116 37.18%
Horse drawn rail cars ^_^ 33 10.58%
Voters: 312. You may not vote on this poll

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Old June 16th, 2005, 02:16 AM   #1
odegaard
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MISC | Maglev or Conventional Rail?

By the end of the 21st century, which of these 2 will dominate (HSR) high speed rail travel?

conventional as in wheels on rails

or

Maglev (magnetic levitation)

I'm throwing my vote in for conventional HSR.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 02:53 AM   #2
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I'd love to see maglev but unless it gets a lot cheaper...i dont think so.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 03:05 AM   #3
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Conventional.
MAGLEV in 22nd century!!
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Old June 16th, 2005, 05:24 AM   #4
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I think we'll be sticking around with conventional for a while, I don't think we're ready for maglev just yet. We're about to see the convential bullet trains going up to 227 mph in newer generation.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:35 AM   #5
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most likely conventional. if maglev gets cheaper it will surely rule the world
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Old June 16th, 2005, 08:19 AM   #6
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I remember one of the arguments in favor of maglevs was that they have the potential to actually be cheaper. Because there is no wear and tear due to friction the maintenance cost is cheaper and therefore the long term costs can actually be cheaper. I think the Shanghai maglev pretty much "derailed" that idea.

With the advent of nano-tech: lighter materials, stronger motors, and more perfectly aligned rails can be used for conventional HSR. At some point wheels on rails technology will hit a speed limit now matter how light weight the materials or how strong the motor may be but I'm curious as to how fast can a regular train be pushed using 21st century technology.

I guess all that money Germany and Japan spent on maglev research is going to go down the drain.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #7
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I guess that someone will develop technology that allows to use maglev (or similar) technology on conventional track. The main problem with maglev is that it demands whole new infrastructure, which is very expensive and makes conventional rail infrastructure useless and obsolete. Also traditional rail has its limitations, one of which is contact between pantograph and cable. On a train going some 300 mph (500 km/h) there is continuous sparkling because it's impossible to press the pantograph against the cable strong enough. Getting rid of this problem (sending energy to train e.g. by guided microwave beam) is one of obstacles in development of faster conventional rail. Maglev doesn't have such limitations and I wouldn't be astonished when, due to future cheap energy (termonuclear, cold fusion, other), it would be able to travel at subsonic (Ma 0,9 or some 950 km/h - 600 mph) speed, winning passengers from planes. What about the noise? Even today it is possible to generate anti-wave that would cut the noise to zero.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 04:26 PM   #8
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Neither. First, I don't think there will be only one technology - different parts of the world will be domintated by different technologies. It probably will be the same even within a geographical area.

But I think most likely we will see a hybrid system. Conventional rail is reaching it's limits. It suffers froma bit of complexity, it also lacks some of the surety of staying on track that other systems have. As lawsuits and liability increase, these things will become more important. Likewise I see that current Maglev is rather complex and requies a lot of overhead power and technology. What I expect to develop is a hybrid system - vehicles that run on some sort of track, but which may be driven by linear motors. I see quite a lot of potential in teh Seraphim motor, in particular.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 05:00 PM   #9
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from now to 40 years Conventional still, then both will coexist more or less equal, then later for the next half of the century Maglev will rule.
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Old June 17th, 2005, 02:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WotaN
........

Also traditional rail has its limitations, one of which is contact between pantograph and cable. On a train going some 300 mph (500 km/h) there is continuous sparkling because it's impossible to press the pantograph against the cable strong enough. Getting rid of this problem (sending energy to train e.g. by guided microwave beam) is one of obstacles in development of faster conventional rail.

........
Microwave beam? Never heard of that idea before. I have heard about the pantograph/ catenary line problem though. A pantograph pushes up against the catenary line/overhead cable. This causes a "wave pattern". Normally this isn't a problem but at high speeds the wave can be large enough to cause the cable to rise up and lose contact with the pantograph. One solution is to increase the tension in the overhead cable....which was one of the modifications done to the TGV before it went on it's infamous speed test.

There is a low tech solution of course. Instead of using an overhead cable...an overhead rigid beam can be used instead. A rigid beam would not create a wave and "jump" the pantograph no matter how fast the train goes. I would also assume there would be less friction since a rigid beam would not deflect from being pushed up against by the pantograph and it's shape and position can be perfectly aligned.

just an idea?
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Old June 18th, 2005, 07:11 AM   #11
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Even if we can get maglev running routinely on an economical basis, it will always be limited since it can only have few stops. The only reason to build a maglev is speed but you can't get the thing up to 250 MPH in the short distance between urban transit stops without treating the passengers like drivers of drag racers. It is being very actively pursued in the Baltimore-DC area as a city connector, but with only 1 stop between cities at the BWI airport, even that stop is enough to slow the thing down enough that with reasonable acceleration and deceleration, the trip becomes about 30 minutes, which is only 25 minutes shorter than mundane MARC trains with about an estimated triple the cost. Why does that make sense? Why not spend the billions making the MARC trains run a little faster, further reducing the difference?
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Old June 18th, 2005, 05:35 PM   #12
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Agree that conventional will still be the cost effective option for another 30-40 years. Undoubtedly, new tech. advances will decrease the cost of Maglev but it really is too prohibitive for many tight govt. budgets and construction times seem to be much longer.

Safety wise TGV and the Shin. network have shown that conventional HSR is very safe. The interesting issue for coneventional rail may well be fuel source if oil prices stay high and alternative fuel sources start to become more price competative. Peru has just launched a fully gas powered loco service this week.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 05:49 PM   #13
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...and Germany experiments with rapeseed oil instead of diesel for some 15 years. I don't know the results yet...
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Old June 18th, 2005, 07:22 PM   #14
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maybe Hydrogen cells in every substation in the next 20 years.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 03:19 PM   #15
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The major drawback of maglevs seems to be that they are not compatible with conventional rail (passengers always have to transfer). This was the main reason that the plans for a Hamburg-Berlin maglev have been abandoned.

So I agree, maglev will not take over before the 22 century.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #16
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Conventional ofcourse. Maglev os just too expensive. There was initial optimism, but we failed to materialise it. Maglevs will still be built - one or two isolated ones here and there, to continue testing and improving economic feasibility. The wise thing will be to actually continue with conventional rails, but to increase their speeds to atleast 240 km/h + in all places to provide fast and affordabled transportation for all.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 07:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micro
So I agree, maglev will not take over before the 22 century.
I guess it's much too long period for prophecies. Just look: in 1900 there was no plane with own engine, only early gliders. Before 2000 there were planes capable of:
- flying around the globe without stop
- reaching 5 times the speed of sound and more
- taking several hundred people on board
- flying on the edge of atmosphere

And the problem is, that development is even faster. I mean that there's way bigger difference between 1990 and 2000 than between 1790 and 1800. And finally, most probable is that we even don't have bloody idea of technology for transportation in 50 years. It may be either sth we don't expect (teleport - maybe not the best example) or sth we don't suspect (existing technology with new use).
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Old June 20th, 2005, 12:33 AM   #18
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here's an ambitious project

http://www.swissmetro.com/

A partial vacuum maglev....as if a regular maglev wasn't crazy enough. The plan is to construct a train that will hopefully reach 700km/hr. In all honesty this project seems like its in the "pie in the sky" stage of development right now. I doubt they have even stuck a shovel in the ground yet.

I'm curious why not use a vacuum tunnel conventional HSR? Granted it may not be as "exotic" but the cost would also not be as "exotic". Beyond a certain speed the primary frictional force is air resistance not wheel friction.
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Old June 20th, 2005, 04:19 AM   #19
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And how exactly are you going to create this vacumn tunnel? And what about all the stresses on the vehicle itself - remember that a vacum means there is going to be a HUGE difference in pressure between the inside of the vehicle and the outside. More so than an aircraft. It also means pressurizing the vehicle itself, meaning much more complicated construction.

I believe that they do try and reduce the air pressure in transit tunnels where they can, but in reality it's pretty hard to reduce the pressure by much, especially when it is so difficult to seal it up.
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Old June 20th, 2005, 07:41 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship
And what about all the stresses on the vehicle itself - remember that a vacum means there is going to be a HUGE difference in pressure between the inside of the vehicle and the outside. More so than an aircraft.
This is a common mistake.
Difference is not HUGE, but equal only 1 Atm (I don't know psi). 1 Atm is what air is making at sea level. Vacum=0 Atm. In the space there is the same difference, which is almost nothing compare to what is working on submarine. 1 Atm is the pressure of 10m height of water. If you are going to dive 100m below sea level in a sea or ocean then you will get 10 Atm+1 Atm from the air above = 11 Atm.
Titanic is more then 2000m under the Atlantic Ocean.
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