History: How the Transrapid came to be

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History: How the Transrapid came to be

Post by david »

Hermann Kemper is considered the inventor of the maglev train. In 1922, while studying electrical engineering, he came up with the idea of replacing the carrying/guiding functions of the wheels in conventional locomotives with electromagnets.
However, due to his studies, he lacked the time to realize this technology.

In 1932, after taking over his father's meat business, he again devoted himself to his idea of electromagnetic levitation.
Later, patent No. 643316 was published, the basis of all electromagnetic magnetic levitation.

In 1938, he supplemented this patent with a vehicle guiding function, which is essential especially for switch/curve travel.
In addition, he developed a concept that evaluated electromagnetic levitation trains in airtight tunnels. At that time, he noted that this technology would be most advantageous especially in an airtight tunnel without air resistance. Today, this principle is referred to as the Hyperloop.

In 1939, he was offered a job by the Göttingen Aerodynamic Experimental Station (AVA). The goal was to realize a magnetic levitation train.
A 20 km test track was to be built in Landsberg. But in 1943, the tide turned when the German Reich stopped all spending irrelevant to the war.

Hermann Kemper saw this as the death blow to his technology. He abandoned the development and did not renew the patents, as he himself no longer believed in the success of the technology and saw no benefit in a costly patent renewal.

All that remained of this development was a test rig. It should also be noted that the levitation technology was impractically large from the standpoint of technology at the time.

A new chance
Hermann Kemper gave up. He continued to promote the technology, but was only ridiculed for it. But when Hermann Kemper met Ludwig Bölkow during a stay at a health resort and told him about his patent, the situation changed.

Bölkow immediately believed in the technology, and had his company (Bölkow GmbH, later MBB) test the feasibility of this technology. The result was positive, and in 1969 Bölkow initiated an HSB feasibility study after convincing the Federal Minister of Transport, Georg Leber.

The result of this study was known at the end of 1971. It became clear that efficient travel at high speeds would be uneconomical with conventional wheel-rail technology. As a result, many German companies began developing maglev trains.

Of all the various maglev developments, the Thyssen-Henschel system ultimately prevailed: The Transrapid.

In 1974, Thyssen-Henschel, together with the Technical University of Braunschweig, began to develop an efficient long-stator motor system for the EMS system. The advantages of this technology were immense weight reductions of the vehicles, propulsion in the track, and very high acceleration values as well as power peaks.

(The TU Braunschweig later developed a transport system on this drive basis, which was driven by a linear motor, but ran on wheels. This was the M-Bahn).


In 1974, the first track for this system was built in Kassel. It was 102 m long, and a 2.5 t frame was first tested on it, which not only proved its advantages but also attested to its technical feasibility. There were fears that the electromagnetic field of the vehicle (carrying/guiding), could interfere with the electromagnetic traveling field of the track (propulsion). Fortunately, this proved to be wrong.


A vehicle was later built from the hover frame, the HMB2. It reached a top speed of 36 km/h, and could carry up to four passengers. This technology was groundbreaking for the future of maglev.

The Transrapid (05-09) is based on this technology, as is the CRRC CF200/CF600.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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