Get ready for some high speed transport action – Chinese researchers are currently developing a vacuum maglev train that they believe will run at speeds up to 620 miles per hour. This just a few years after Japan announced their — then totally awe inspiring — plans for a maglev train that would run at 310 mph. The train will run on magnetic levitation tracks built into vacuum tubes underground and will be sucked along at an average speed of almost 400 miles per hour. What’s the cost for this zippy technology, you ask? A mere $2.95 million more than the current high speed rail for each kilometer of track.
Maglev trains utilize a system of very large magnets to lift and propel train cars. The magnetic system is able to move at high speeds while being quieter and smoother than a traditional wheeled mass transit train. The current world record for speed on a maglev train is 361 miles per hour and was set in Japan in 2003. The Chinese plan to blow this record out of the water by coupling their maglev technology with underground tunnels that will act as vacuums.
The most common problem facing high speed transit is air friction that slows train cars down. The Chinese plan to eliminate this problem with their vacuum tunnels and say their trains will not have to compete with air friction while they travel. Researchers say that the trains could be ready for action in ten years. Though this high speed wonder seems like a great idea, the economic cost of the technology is staggering. With the added price tag of the vacuum tunnels to make these trains extra speedy, we’re wondering if the time saved traveling on these record breaking trains will really be worth the impact of their construction.