Fine dust / particulate matter emissions

Comparing high-speed rail systems with steel wheels (ICE, Shinkansen, TGV, etc.) with maglev systems such as EMS Transrapid and EDS Maglev, the results are clearly in favor of maglev systems.

Maglev (magnetic levitation) systems offer a significant environmental advantage over conventional high-speed steel-wheel rail systems, particularly in terms of fine dust emissions. Traditional rail systems, by their very nature of steel wheels running on steel tracks, generate particulate matter through wheel-rail contact, brake use, and the interaction between the catenary system (for electric trains) and the train's pantograph. These sources contribute to the emission of fine dust, which can have adverse effects on air quality and public health.

In contrast, Maglev trains eliminate direct contact between the vehicle and the guideway by employing magnetic fields to levitate the train a few inches above the track. This levitation principle significantly reduces the primary sources of fine dust emissions associated with mechanical friction and wear found in conventional rail systems. Additionally, because Maglev trains are typically powered by electricity, they can further minimize their environmental impact if the electricity is sourced from renewable energy.

The reduction in fine dust emissions is a crucial benefit of Maglev technology, especially in densely populated areas or regions with strict air quality standards. By minimizing particulate matter emissions, Maglev systems contribute to cleaner air and a lower overall environmental footprint compared to their high-speed rail counterparts.

Overall, the deployment of Maglev technology presents an opportunity to enhance the sustainability and eco-friendliness of high-speed transportation, aligning with global efforts to mitigate air pollution and combat climate change.

In detail, scientific results show that a single typical wheel-rail high-speed train (ICE, Shinkansen, TGV, etc.) generates between 1.6 and 4.9 tons of mainly metallic particulate matter per year (mileage 500,000 km). In sharp contrast, EMS high-speed maglev systems (Transrapid) are completely free of particulate emissions and can be considered advantageous in this respect. The Japanese EDS system generates particulate matter from tire abrasion at speeds up to about 120 km/h, but after that it is also free of particulate emissions.

Scientific evidence: