Maglev trains do not create direct pollution emissions and are always quieter in comparison to traditional systems when operating at the same speeds. In high-speed intercity transport, using maglev trains can offer an especially good cost-benefit ratio as regards land purchase, construction, operation, maintenance and environmental protection. Future technological advances can be expected to improve this ratio even more.
In the area of noise emissions, maglev systems are superior in every way to wheel/rail systems (when operating at the same speeds), not to mention airplanes.
Comparisons made at the same speed show that all rolling friction noises, every track screech, all shocks from wheel-on-rail contact are eliminated in maglev systems that use magnetic forces rather than physical contact to keep the vehicle upright. Noise generated by air turbulence is also greatly reduced with maglev high-speed trains, making them clearly superior to all wheel/rail vehicles. In particular, the noise from the conventional train’s pantograph is replaced in maglev by a process of induction and the required energy is transferred without physical contact.
At speeds under 200 km/h (125 mph), maglev systems can hardly be heard, especially in an urban environment – an important advantage for populated areas. The Chinese Transrapid in Shanghai and the Japanese Linimo in Nagoya, as well as all urban transport maglev trains, offer impressive proof of this.
Maglev routes also do not “divide the landscape” as highways, train tracks and waterways typically do. Animals can cross under elevated maglev guideways, which they do without hesitation, and farmers can till the land undisturbed, as shown by observation and experience at the test facilities in Japan’s Yamanshi Prefecture and Germany’s Emsland town of Lathen.
There is a strong demand to design future rail route architecture more aesthetically and open, in contrast to the massive constructions of the past. This public concern will affect maglev trains as well as wheel/rail systems.