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Fan van de Neudeflat
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A couple of pics from the Transrapid test track. As you probably know, the Transrapid is Germany's maglev train that is now in use in Shanghai. Various other lines have been planned all around the world, but most plans have been cancelled in favor of regular high speed trains, often due to cost considerations or the possiblity to integrate regular high speed trains in the already existing railway infrastructure. Currently the Transrapid is under consideration for the Zuiderzee Line in the Netherlands (Amsterdam - Groningen).

Although I'm not exactly a supporter of Transrapid, it seemed very interesting to me to take a lookt at Transrapid's test track near the German town of Meppen.

The track has been used for years years now; no idea what they are currently testing. Still, test runs are carried out all day long.

The single track test route has a total length of 31.5 kilometers (about 20 miles).



Test runs are carried out with TR08, the newest test vehicle, similar to the ones in use in Shanghai. The vehicle has no wheels at all and when moving it floats about 10 centimeters above the track.

TR08 at the "station" next to the (small and unimpressive) visitor's centre.






A look into an older test vehicle that's now on display net to the visito's center. This is the seat of the "driver", who doesn't actually control the vehicle. The vehicle is moving forward due to computer controlled electromagnets.


The front of this older type:


Time for a ride with TR08! The interior is pretty basic. The vehicle is much wider than a regular train. It has 3 + 3 seats abreast, just like a narrowbody airplane (would they ever build wide body Transrapid trains? ;) )


A major advantage of maglevs above regular high speed trains is the faster acceleration. In no time we hit the 200 km/h mark, although you almost don't notice. Just over that speed we entered the northern curve. Very spectacular running through a sharp curve with a high superelevation at such a speed, passing farms on the way. But after the curve it really started accelerating: first to 350 km/h and then even faster.


At about 400 km/h we passed the visitor's center. After that a sharp deceleration followed because we approached the southern cuver. Even at very high speeds the train is very quiet inside. The ride is also very comfortable, although it does shake a bit at very high speeds.

After that we made another round on the test track, a bit slower than the first time. In total we did a little more than 80 km in 20 minutes. Impressive.

A few more pics. TR08 passing a viewing point at about 300 km/h.


Accelerating towards 400 km/h.


The northern curve.




A disadvantage of Transrapid are the cumbersome switches: actually pieces of track that are rolled back and forth between the connecting tracks. Not really a problem on a basic line, but pretty problematic when creating a large network...


I enjoyed my visit very much; the ride was very impressive. Whatever you think of Transrapid, I can highly recommend a ride on it.
 

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Vertigo said:
Although I'm not exactly a supporter of Transrapid, it seemed very interesting to me to take a lookt at Transrapid's test track near the German town of Meppen.
Why not? The Netherlands is perfect with its many towns (stops) in a relatively smal area.
 

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Would it really make that much of a difference if it had to stop every couple of minutes?
 

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It especially makes a difference, because it would be at top speed at no time where a normal train takes kilometers to get there. Top speed in this case is 2 or 3 times faster than top speed for normal trains too!
It is ideal for routes with say 5 or 6 stops over 100 km.
 

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Monkey business
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I wouldn't mind seeing a Europe-wide high-speed train using Maglevs instead of normal trains someday... It'd be interesting..

And Vertigo, if you think about it, in a way you were a test bunny for a day ;)

Potatoes, potatoes..
 

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I'd rather travel from Paris to Lyon in a train then in a plane. It's faster door to door.
What you are talking about are journeys of (say) 800 km and over.
 

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SHiRO said:
I'd rather travel from Paris to Lyon in a train then in a plane. It's faster door to door.
What you are talking about are journeys of (say) 800 km and over.
You wouldn't even consider riding a train instead of taking a plane if the state would put the billions and billions of costs for the track building on your ticket instead of putting it as tax burden on the general population. HST networks are a disaster for the state budget. It is no coincidence that they can only be found in countries where the railways are not really privatized because a private company would have had to finance the expenditures through ticket sales and that would have made riding a train over long distances (200+ km) multiple times more expensive than taking a plane and no customers would be willing to pay for that - in short: it doesn't make any economic sense.
 

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Fan van de Neudeflat
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This kind of trains will be built all over Europe??
Not really. There are a few plans for some single lines, but I don't see a large network of maglev trains in the future. Europe already has a very extensive railway network, doesn't make economic sense to replace all of it.

On long distances (200+ km) no ground based travel makes any economic sense. It is way to slow and to expensive compared to the plane.
Agreed, when talking about really long distances. High speed trains have proven very effective and efficient on distances of up to, say, 800 km. Even airline companies are enthusiastic about it: they book passengers on high speed trains to free slots for real long distance flights.
 

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Mike said:
You wouldn't even consider riding a train instead of taking a plane if the state would put the billions and billions of costs for the track building on your ticket instead of putting it as tax burden on the general population. HST networks are a disaster for the state budget. It is no coincidence that they can only be found in countries where the railways are not really privatized because a private company would have had to finance the expenditures through ticket sales and that would have made riding a train over long distances (200+ km) multiple times more expensive than taking a plane and no customers would be willing to pay for that - in short: it doesn't make any economic sense.
railway tracks are infrastructure like roads and autobahnen. So for me it is no problem that taxes are used for the maintenance of the railway network, because a good railway network contributes to the national economy.
And I would take the train instead of a plane as long as it takes less time door to door (given that the price difference is small).
 

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Monkey business
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Fact is, riding the train is a lot more comfortable and stress-free than taking a plane. And that's probably why long-distance trains are staying around for longer than they would otherwise.

And if I had a rational option, I'd rather take a train than a plane too. But in my situation that's just not possible, unfortunately. :(
 

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wc eend said:
Very intersting! Can you maybe explain the problems with the switches?
In case of Transrapid the drive is in the track and as such the track contains coils, electronics, etc... it is much more complex than simply a steel beam in case of conventional railway.
 
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