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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New 500 kph Train Officially Unveiled Again

First the good news - a week ago, Japan unveiled its new L0 MagLev - magnetic levitation - train, and it can travel over 482.3 kilometers per hour (300 miles per hour), which is a whopping 160.9 kph (100 mph) faster than what Japanese shinkansen bullet trains are doing now.

Now the bad news - It's cost is ¥6.2 trillion (US/Cdn $64 billion), which even if it wasn't a lot of money now, everyone knows there is no way this baby is coming in on budget...

And, the ugly news - a train line between Tokyo and Osaka isn't expected to be completed until 2045, meaning a large number of you readers may already be dead. Isn't that depressing?

In the Asahi Shimbun photo above, a three-car version of the L0 MagLev is being pushed from behind by a maintenance vehicle.

The Maglev train used magnets instead of wheels, and instead of a train engine, it uses more magnets.

The MagLev system uses an Electro-dynamic Suspension (EDS) system, as it has superconducting magnetic coils, with the guideways along the side of the 'track' containing levitation coils. As the train moves, its moving magnetic fields create a current in the levitation coils because of the magnetic field induction effect.

These currents create a magnetic field that interacts with the magnetic field of the superconductive coils to create a force that holds up and stabilizes the train.
The white board with the holes in it are levitation and guidance coils on another test track.
I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but there is such a thing called geomagnetic reversal, whereby the polarity of the north and south poles flips. Your compass would then point to the south.

A compass in the southern hemisphere now, in 2013 will always point magnetic north, but as mentioned, if it flips, it will still point magnetic north, but magnetic north will actually be in the south!

The latest geomagnetic reversal, the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago. However,a study published in 2012 by a group from the German Research Center for Geosciences suggests that a brief complete reversal occurred only 41,000 years ago during the last glacial period. The reversal lasted only about 440 years with the actual change of polarity lasting around 250 years.

I mention this only because one never really knows when a geomagnetic reversal might occur - and if it does occur, will the MagLev still work? Whew! That was a lot of work for a hypothetical question! LOL!

The Japanese L0 MagLev has no windshield (because there is no driver!), but it is controlled by a computer NOT on the train (remote accessed).

Now... I think this is pretty funny... but there is a camera located on the nose of the L0 MagLev front (tough to call it an engine, when it doesn't have one!) ... and this camera is supposed to alert the train of any hazards that might cause an accident - what like a deer crossing the tracks?

The train can go 500 kph! How fast can you stop the train without killing everyone inside the cars just so it can NOT hit a deer?

Back in November 2012, I noted that an L0 MagLev train would be performing a 40-minute route beginning in 2027 between Tokyo and Nagoya (north-south)... but this new news is about a journey between Tokyo and Osaka (east-west)... which won't be ready for 32 more years...

Now... I think this is pretty interesting stuff... unveiling a train NOW in 2013.. even though you have been testing it for years...

So how is this news? Because now you have proven its feasibility? China had already... though their MagLev runs at about half the speed of this proposed one... this is just news because it now proposes to link Tokyo with Osaka via MagLev.

In fact... the MagLev in Japan is actually older news than 2012...  as Japan has been testing and running MagLev's since 1969 - 44 years ago.

Let pull from Wikipedia:

In Japan, there are two independently developed maglev trains. One is the HSST by Japan Airlines and the other, which is better-known, is JR-Maglev by Japan Railways (JR) Group.

The development of the latter started in 1969, and (upon the) Miyazaki test track (it) had regularly hit 517 kph (321 mph) by 1979 but, after an accident that destroyed the train, a new design was decided upon. In Okazaki, Japan (1987), the JR-Maglev took a test ride at the Okazaki exhibition. Tests through the 1980s continued in Miyazaki before transferring (to) a far larger and elaborate test track, 20 kilometers (12 mile) long, in Yamanashi in 1997.

Development of HSST started in 1974, based on technologies introduced from Germany. In Tsukuba, Japan (1985), the HSST-03 (Linimo) wins popularity in spite (a top speed) being 30 kph 19 mph) at the Tsukuba World Exposition. In Saitama, Japan (1988), the HSST-04-1 was revealed at the Saitama exhibition performed in Kumagaya. Its fastest recorded speed was (also) 30 kph (19 mph).

So... how is that a mere 44 years later we still only have MagLev trains hitting the 500 kph-mark... did nothing change, except perhaps better safety assurances? Hopefully.

But please note that it took 10 years of testing before the flaw was discovered and that first Japanese generation of MagLev crashed.

The Yamanashi testing track is where the current MagLev train is being tested. The JR–Maglev MLX01 was one of the designs of a series of MagLev tested on that track. On December 2, 2003, a three-car train reached a maximum speed of 581 kph (361 mph) in a manned vehicle run, which was the world speed record for railed vehicles.

And now this design - the L0. What will it look like in 32 years?

But even so... the plan is to wait about 32 more years for them to complete the tracks and station upgrades (or build new stations) just so they can lower the travel time from Tokyo to Nagoya by 50 per cent - 90 minutes to half that?

As well... introducing the train NOW? Do we really expect the train company to maintain the same train shape and stylings in 2045 as revealed now in 2013?

Let's just say that JR is going ahead with the plan to build the magnetic levitation train line... and that it will take 32 more years and is currently budgeted at ¥6.2 trillion. But the proposition is for how it would look today in 2013... it sure as hell won't look like this in 2045.

Think about this... imagine the world in 2013 (look around you), and now harken back all the way to 1980 or 1981... 32 years ago. What was the world like? No DVD players, Cell phones, PVR, LCD or plasma TVs. Disco might have still been around... punk music was still screaming about anarchy? The USSR still existed. So did a separated Germany. No microwave ovens? Used boil in the bag dinners! Rotary Phones, LP's, the first space shuttle took off! (we don't have those any more!)...home computers are the norm and not just for nerds like me who had one in 1978! The Internet. SARS. AIDS. Avian Flu Virus.

And let's not forget blogs. Twitter, Facebook et al. People complained about gas prices in 1981 when it was $1.38 a gallon... now it's $3.70. I paid $1.28.8 for a liter today...

The list really is nearly endless... now imagine what things will be like in 2045... will MagLev technology even be relevant?

I like this analogy. 45 years ago, we had NOT landed on the moon. Forty-five years before that, no jet planes. Forty-five years before that we hadn't even had heavier-than air flight from an aeroplane (also being gay just meant you were happy). Forty-five years before that we were in the Industrial Revolution... and 45 Years before that we didn't even have the first workable train lines.

I'm being liberal with my numbers, but it's all pretty close...

So... 32 years... that's a long time... There's nothing wrong with planning ahead... but this seems like an expensive extreme... but it is a cleaner and more efficient solution than current air travel between these cities.

Andrew Joseph
Note that the photos are originally from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

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