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Transrapid – The sad truth!

Transrapid – When we hear that word, we think of a
German engineering masterpiece that never was set
operational on any official track however. But Shanghai
did in 2003 between Pudong and the outer City border.

A train that does not require steel tracks. A train that moves fast and silent. A train that could reduce travel times.

When Transrapid was initially officially tested 1976 in it’s characteristic form, we know today, it’s speed was limited to 380km/h which was a top speed in the time being. With several revisions, the Transrapid 06 being the most famous one and with a top speed of 412km/h there were 3 more revisions. The Transrapid 7, 8 and 9. The Transrapid 08 is the version actually in service in Shanghai. A top speed of 430km/h (or 300km/h outside the high-speed time slot) makes it the fastest system to time even beating the TGV with it’s top-speed of 380km/h. In test drives the Transrapid even broke the 500km/h barrier!

The Transrapid 09 was the last known development step of the Transrapid and planned for service between Munich Central station and Munich Airport. This track length would have been 36km and barely sufficient for the Transrapid to achieve top speed in service (450km/h).

With the Transrapid 09 and the final shutdown of the project in 2008 an almost 40 years long research project ended with only one system active to date, namely the Transrapid Shanghai. And even there this train is slowly decaying and fading in it’s glory of German engineering.

The main problem is that the train is used by only 20 to 30% of all passengers travelling from and to the airport as other services are more commonly used. This results in a negative operation balance for the airport running the train and also less frequent maintenance.

But why is this train so neglected after offering so much benefits, i.e. top speed, shorter acceleration and brake time, operator-less function, almost maintenance-free operation on track, less sound emission than a wheel-based train etc…

No one knows for sure but one can only hope that this masterpiece of modern travelling made in Germany does not decay until defunct. It would be a pity to see this fine train go to pieces.

And despite that… the Transrapid 09 would have had the capability of becoming a good mass transport system if the line planning would have been thoroughly done interconnecting bigger cities and their airports. However the price is quite steep compared to conventional hi-speed trains thus the decision to still use conventional trains to interconnect ccities and their airports, like it is the case with Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hannover, Berlin for example which are all reached using the ICE and a top speed up to 300km/h (Frankfurt-Kassel, Munich-Nuremberg or Kassel-Göttingen-Hannover – just to name three of the top speed ICE lines).

Oh and if you wonder what it feels like when an ICE passes you with top speed, you might want to watch this video:

Time-travelling with the Transrapid:

Transrapid 01 Transrapid 02 Transrapid 03
Vmax: 158 km/h
Accel.: 0.7m/s2
Brake: 0.8m/s2
Length: 11.0m
Width: 2.7m
Height: 3.2m
Weight: 11.0t
Built: 1970

Vmax: 164 km/h
Accel.: 0.7m/s2
Brake: 0.8m/s2
Length: 11.5m
Width: 3.5m
Height: 3.2m
Weight: 12.0t
Built: 1971

Vmax: 205.7 km/h
Accel.: 0.75m/s2
Brake: 0.83m/s2
Length: 11.7m
Width: 3.3m
Height: 3.1m
Weight: 12.2t
Built: 1972
Transrapid 04 Transrapid 05 Transrapid 06
Vmax: 253.2 km/h
Accel.: 0.75m/s2
Brake: 0.83m/s2
Length: 15.0m
Width: 3.4m
Height: 2.8m
Weight: 16.5t
Built: 1974
Vmax: 75 km/h
Accel.: 0.8m/s2
Brake: 0.87m/s2
Length: 26.4m
Width: 3.1m
Height: 3.2m
Weight: 36.0t
Built: 1979
Vmax: 412.6 km/h
Accel.: 0.9m/s2
Brake: 1.05m/s2
Length: 54.2m
Width: 3.1m
Height: 3.4m
Weight: 125.0t
Built: 1980
Transrapid 07 Transrapid 08 Trasrapid 09
Vmax: 450 km/h
Accel.: 0.85m/s2
Brake: 1.2m/s2
Length: 51.7m
Width: 3.7m
Height: 4.4m
Weight: 92.0t
Built: 1988

Vmax: 500 km/h
Accel.: 0.9m/s2
Brake: 1.3m/s2
Length: 79.7m
Width: 3.7m
Height: 4.2m
Weight: 149.5t
Built: 1999

and some more facts:
0-100km/h: 34s (500m)
0-200km/h: 62s (1730m)
0-300km/h: 98s (4300m)
0-400km/h: 156s (10000m)
0-500km/h: 266s (23300m)

200-0km/h: 58s (1576m)
300-0km/h: 87s (3600m)
500-0km/h: 147s (10475m)

Vmax: 505 km/h
Accel.: 1.0m/s2
Brake: 1.3m/s2
Length: 75.8m
Width: 3.7m
Height: 4.25m
Weight: 170.0t
Built: 2007

So what is it like to ride the MagLev with 430km/h or see it fly by?

This video shows it very well: Click here to watch on YouTube

Or if the YouTube video is offline, you can watch it here as well:

February 18, 2020 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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