Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Maglev company closes doors, returns to parent corporations

Siemens and Thyssencrup have announced that they are dissolving their joint maglev technology company, Transrapid. Transrapid’s system was used to build Shanghai’s 20 mile airport train, an oft-cited example of a functioning commercial maglev train.

The decision on Thursday, May 8, came after the city of Munich decided in March to abandon plans for a 37-kilometer (23-mile) line linking the city center with the airport.

Despite the dissolution of the company, “the core competencies of the Transrapid technology” would remain in the possession of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, they said.

The companies said they remained dedicated to promoting the system and were continuing talks with possible customers in China and the United States.

Though the article makes it clear that Transrapid’s assets will be reabsorbed by the parents companies, who will continue to promote the technology, this has to be something of a blow to maglev proponents.

A number of readers of this blog have argued that more conventional high speed rail technology is imminently more practical and affordable, despite lacking that ‘ooh.. ahhh’ factor of magnetic levitation trains. Most conventional HSR stock is capable of running at reduced speeds on old tracks, and there is more competition and real-world precedent for fast steel wheels. Despite this, maglev has it own advantages. Trains run more silently, have fewer moving parts, and perhaps most importantly, capture the public’s attention in a country where no one seems to give passenger rail a second thought. Perhaps standard HSR is more practical for America’s new rail projects, but it pains me to see a competitive and interesting technology such as this flounder.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , ,

3 Responses

  1. Larry Blow says:

    This is a setback, no doubt, but we understand the parent companies at Siemens and ThyssenKrupp plan to continue their marketing activities in countries such as the USA, the UK and China where maglev proponents have generated interest in planning for future projects.

    In an outwardly more positive action, last month’s passage of the “technical corrections” act for SAFETEA-LU looks to give a $90 million boost to pre-construction planning efforts in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Baltimore-Washington and Atlanta-Chattanooga.

  2. Allan says:

    Maglev is still the way to go over HSR. We’ll get there but probably not before we spend billions on yesterday’s technology of HSR.

  3. Jakub says:

    Its sad, that this technology hasn’t got the chance to prove its abilities. Tranrapid international was still lowering the construction prices, but it will not be low enough, when its not used. Besides mentioned advantages, there’s one more (very important) – it can handle 10% steep track – that’s the main reason, why Britain is interested.
    I wish luck to this technology. It’s very good one and I think, that fear of risk was the main reason for many projects to be canceled.

    Sorry for bad english, I’m from Czech Republic 🙂

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