The Transrapid Maglev System is one of the fastest ground transportation systems in the world. Transrapid Maaglev is currently the fastest commerial maglev in use. The Transrapid system  has a long development history, going back to the early 20th century. Today, the system is developed and built mainly by Siemens and ThyssenKrupp (Germany). 

Maglev systems like the German Transrapid, the Japanese Linear Motor Car can be seen as the first fundamental innovations in railroad engineering since the construcition of the first railroads. The Transrapid maglev system needs no wheels, no axles, no transmissions, no pantographs. A maglev hovers. 

 

The System and its Capabilities

 

At high speeds (over ~200 km/h), the Transrapid can bie considered more energy efficient than any other modern high speed train -  and considerably less noisy. The Transrapid maglev is capable of climbing significantly steeper tracks (10% vs. 4% for standard modern High-Speed Rail) and make tighter turns than conventional rail, rendering it especially suitable for mountainous regions. 

 

It is possible to flexibly adapt its guideway to the landscape and to have it tightly follow existing roads, railroad tracks, and power lines. Therefore, no significant interventions in the environment are necessary and pristine landscape is protected. Furthermore, the original use of the landscape under the guideway is still possible (farming or grazing for example). 

 

As electricity is only the energy source used by the system, there are no environmentally harmfull emissions which is one reason why the system is considered environmentally-friendly. The energy consumption during high speed is slightly lower than the consumption of conventional High Speed Rail, compared at equal speeds. 

 

Currently there are no consumption advantages at lower speeds (compared with High Speed Rail).

 

 

Aspects of Technology

 

The synchronous longstator linear motor of the Transrapid maglev system is used both for propulsion and braking. It functions like a rotating electric motor whose stator is cut open and stretched along under the guideway. Inside the motor windings, alternating current generates a magnetic traveling field which moves the vehicle without contact. The support magnets in the vehicle function as the excitation portion (rotor). The respective magnetic traveling field works in only one direction, and therefore makes moving train collisions less likely, as more than one train on the track section would travel in the same direction. 

 

The maglev system has no wheels, axles, transmissions, or pantographs. It does not roll; it hovers. Electronic systems guarantee that the clearance remains constant (nominally 10 mm). To hover, the Transrapid requires less power than its air conditioning equipment. The levitation system and all onboard electronics are supplied by the power recovered from harmonic oscillations of magnetic field of the track's linear stator (Those oscillations being parasitic cannot be used for propulsion anyway) at speeds above 80 km/h, while at lower speeds power is obtained through physical connections to the track. In case of power failure of the track's propulsion system Transrapid car uses on-board backup batteries that can supply power to the levitation system. 

 

Levitation 

 

Electronically controlled support magnets located on both sides along the entire length of the vehicle pull the vehicle up to the ferromagnetic stator packs mounted to the underside of the guideway. 

 

''"Guidance magnets located on both sides along the entire length of the vehicle keep the vehicle laterally on the track. Electronic systems guarantee that the clearance remains constant (nominally 10 mm). To hover, the Transrapid requires less power than its air conditioning equipment. The levitation system is supplied from on-board batteries and thus independent of the [[propulsion]] system. The vehicle is capable of hovering up to one hour without external energy. While travelling, the on-board batteries are recharged by linear generators integrated into the support magnets".'' (Statement of [[Transrapid International]] ). 

 

 

Propulsion 

 

The Transrapid maglev system uses a synchronous longstator linear motor both for [[propulsion]] and braking. The linear motor is functioning like a rotating electric motor whose stator is cut open and stretched along under the guideway. 

 

 

Operation Control 

 

The operation control system is in charge of the maglev operation and ensueres the safety of the Transrapid system. It controls all vehicle movements, the position of all switches, and all other safety and operational functions. The location of the maglev train on the guideway is digitally tracked using an on-board system. A radio transmission system is used for communication between the central control center and the maglev trains. 

 

Maintenance 

 

The guideway is mainly inspected and monitored by maintenance vehicles from the guideway. ''"The guideway maintenance vehicles are provided with measuring systems to detect any changes in the position of the guideway equipment (such as stator packs, cable windings, and guidance rails) and with optical systems using digital photo interpretation to check the condition of the surfaces, e.g. for corrosion. In addition, evaluation of the sensor data obtained in daily operation allows the maintenance personnel to detect any changes in the position of the guideway and to implement corrective measures"'' (Quote of [[Transrapid International]] website, May 2007). For maintenance purposes, an access road along the guideway is advantageous but not required. 

 

The non-contact technology of the Transrapid helps to reduce operating costs, because the systems is almost totally free from wear and tear. Therefore, operating expenses are potentially lower than those of traditional railroad systems. 

 

Guideway 

 

A Transrapid magelv hovers over its guideway which can be a single or a double track guideway, the latter as the usual way of use. The guideway can be either elevated on columns or mounted at-grade. The guidway consists of individual steel or concrete beams up to 62 m in length (pillars, girders).

 

 

Aspects of Safety

 

The vehicle is considered as virually impossible to derail because the train's guiding and propulsion systems are wrapped around the guideway. A collision with other maglev trains on the same track section can be technically ruled out. 

 

It is agreed among experts that the Transrapid System provides a high degree of safety for its passengers. Even at highest speeds, passengers  can move freely onboard of the maglev Transrapid train. Seatbelts are not needed. The intensity of the magnetic fields generated by the Transrapid have often been mesured and have been determined as very low, comparable to that of the earth's natural magnetic field. Based on scientific measurements it can be said that the magnetic fields of hair dryers, toasters, electric ovens, or television receivers ''"are much stronger than those on board the Transrapid"'' (Statement of Transrapid International website, 5. 2007). Compared to the Transrapid, the magnetic fields of overhead wires of conventional trains are considered significantly stronger. 

 

Depending on how precisely and accurate the guidway has been built, there is no jolting, just smooth levitation. Compared with conventional rail or Airplane , the overall travel comfort of a Transrapid maglev is potentially much higher and considered superior at all relevant speeds.

 

 

Environmental considerations

 

At higher speeds (above ~200 km/h), the Transrapid can be considerd more energy efficient than a modern high speed train , and considerably less noisy. It is capable of climbing significantly steeper tracks (10% vs. 4% for standard modern High-Speed Rail) and make tighter turns than conventional rail, rendering it especially suitable for mountainous regions. It is possible to flexibly adapt its guideway to the landscape and to have it tightly follow existing roads, railroad tracks, and power lines. Therefore, no significant interventions in the environment are necessary and pristine landscape is protected. Furthermore, the original use of the landscape under the guideway is still possible (farming or grazing for example). 

 

Noise emissions 

 

In prinicipal, the Transrapid system has less noise emissions that conventional rail. 

At speeds up to 150 km/h, a Transrapid maglev system has very little noise emissions, due to its non-contact levitation and [[propulsion]] technology. There is no rolling noise and no relevant engine noise. Therefore a Transrapid maglev can hover quietly through cities and urban areas - significantly smoother and quieter than any conventional rail system. 

 

At higher speeds, the primary sources of noise are wind and air turbulences. At 300 km/h, the Transrapid maglev vehicle develops only as much noise as light rail commuter trains travelling at 80 km/h. At speeds above 400 km/h, it is considered not much louder than (considerably slower) railroads.

 

 

Transrapid Lines in operation

 

Shanghai Transrapid 

 

The first operational high-speed conventional maglev railway in the world, the Shanghai Transrapid Maglev Train from Shanghai (Longyang Rd. Station) to the Pudong International Airport was inaugurated in 2004, after just two years of construction. The highest speed achieved on the Shanghai Transrapid|Shanghai track has been 501 km/h (311 mph), over a track length of 30 km. 

 

 

TVE Lathen, Germany 

 

The Emsland Transrapid Test Facility (TVE) was a testing site for Transrapid trains in Emsland, Germany. The single track line was running between the villages of Dörpen and Lathen. Turning loops were at each end. The track was elevated for almost its entire length.

 

Significant Incidents

 

August 11, 2006 fire 

 

On August 11, 2006 a fire broke out on the Shanghai Transrapid, shortly after leaving the Longyang terminal. This was the first accident on a maglev train in commercial operation. Train operation was shut down immediately. Passengers were able to disembark the train safely and no casualties were reported. Operations resumed on one line after some days.  

 

The fire was thought to have originated below the passenger compartment, possibly as a result of battery malfunction. 

 

 

September 22, 2006 crash 

 

On September 22, 2006 an elevated Transrapid train collided with a maintenance vehicle on a test run at 170 kilometers per hour in Lathen (Lower Saxony / north-western Germany). The train did not derail. The maintenance vehicle destroyed the first section of the train, and came to rest on its roof. This was the first major accident involving a Transrapid train. Most of the passengers were in the first of the three sections of the Transrapid. The news media is reporting 23 fatalities and several severely injured after end of salvage work, these being the first ever fatalies on any maglev. 

 

There were two men on the maintenance vehicle. They saw the train approaching and jumped to the ground. This was four or five metres down - a minor fall. The passengers on the train had no way to escape, and those that survived were evacuated by emergency personnel. 

 

The accident is reported to have been caused by a combination of human error and a technical flaw. The maintenance vehicle carried out routine sweeps of the track to remove debris, fallen branches, etc. and is supposed to report back to the control centre via voice radio once it has cleared the track. Control personnel should not allow the main train to depart the station before the maintenance vehicle has cleared, but it appears that they failed to check the maintenance vehicle's position before the Transrapid vehicle departed. 

 

The compounding technical flaw was that although Transrapid vehicles on the guideway are automatically tracked and controlled by the OCS, the maintenance vehicle did not operate in the same way and thus was not known to the computerized control system. Had the maintenance vehicle reported its position electronically as all Transrapid trains do, redundant computerized safety systems would never have allowed the passenger vehicle to approach.