Levitating Trains The Maglev trains “A train is a connected series of rail vehicles propelled along a track to transport cargo or passengers. ” -Wikipedia Trains now days are most commonly used for the transport of passengers across long distances, they are fast enough to reach a constant speed between 65 km/h to around 120km/h, although the record speed of a conventional train is of 575 km/h, held by the French TGV. It needed some modifications (shorter and higher voltage) and had passengers in it.
Although, the record for non-conventional train is held by the JR-Maglev, a Japanese experimental train reaching the 581km/h without passengers (precaution) on a Magnetic-Levitation track. Answering how a train works is a very hard question, assuming we are talking about locomotives; they all have a generator behind the crews cab about half the size of a Volkswagen Beetle that powers the train with electricity by spinning, but the electrical output requires a lot of energy, that’s why there is a huge and powerful diesel engine that provides this power.
Ignoring what the possible price of putting down a rail could be, I am going to calculate the price of having to get wheels and how long they last. A single axle 2 wheels costs $33, on the average commercial train there is about 636 wheels, so there is 318 axles, which adds up to total of $10,494 . There isn’t an exact schedule on how often they change train wheels, it all depends on the rail and how much braking the train does, for example, if it’s a very curvy “road”, more braking is applied and the more the wheels get wasted, and eventually, this slows down the entire vehicle.
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Regular trains also suffer from bumps and weather can play a difference in the performance of the train, the fact that the train is connected to the rail and to the floor deteriorates the materials and can make a huge sound, and if it’s a train that goes by a big town, there might be noise complaints. Since friction seems to be the root of all problems, why not remove it? Friction is a natural force that occurs when an object or more encounter moving over each other or two objects rubbing against each other. How can a train overcome this?
If only it could levitate… well, needless to say, as I have mentioned a few paragraphs back, there is such a train, one that levitates with magnetism, the Maglev train, which by the name might sound Russian, but the mastermind behind it is Alfred Zehden (German), although he gave it a name in English: Maglev (MAGnetic LEVitation). The train levitates with electromagnetic (the interaction of electric currents with magnetic fields) C-shaped arms, with the top part of the arms connected to the train and the inside part holding the magnets, so the rail is situated in the space within the C.
Since friction was the factor that was creating the problem, now that there is a clear (15mm) space between the rail and the train “wheels” there is no friction involved, so now the train speeds up faster to its average speed of 430km/h and it also slows down easier without any sound, and it goes unaffected by non-extreme weather, if the town has a power there is no problem because it has its own generator and also let’s not forget it is super cool because it is a LEVITATING TRAIN!
Another feature it has is that regular locomotives can only run at a minimum speed of about 30km/h, with electromagnets there is no such problem, the train can cruise around at whatever it’s chosen speed is. The price of a regular (and might I add, boring) locomotive is around $2,300,000 with an added $35,000 for fuel and repairs, whereas the maglev has a more expensive staring price of 1. 2 billion, although it is expected for the price to fall to 1,800,000 in the next 30 years.
In the long run and in this case a very long run because trains are one of the vehicles that last the longest, the maglev is more profitable than regular locomotives Cultural: As far as I am aware, culturally there shouldn’t be any problem with the maglev unless there is some cult out there that I’m not aware of that hate electromagnetism. Political: If anything, on the long run the government profit from this investment, considering it’s the fastest commercial train in the world, it gets a lot of attention. On the other hand, only 4 countries have patented the idea and of those only 2 (Aichi, Japan and Shanghai, China) have constructed the rains and 2 other under construction in Seoul, South Korea and a second one in China, which leads to think that other governments are afraid of bringing these ideas to their country and then end up being an absolute failure. Environmental: The maglev train actually does benefit the environment since there is less friction and therefore less fuel is used, and also less resources to replace train and rail parts since they won’t deteriorate because there is no friction involved. Social: Everyone is going to want to ride the super cool levitating train because it’s a SUPER COOL LEVITATING TRAIN!
In conclusion, I think I have stated my point very clearly and we have solved the friction problem thanks to our friend electromagnetism. -August Paloluoma P. S please ignore Social, I still don’t know why I wrote that down… Bibliography: URL: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Maglev#Technology Title: Maglev Latest date modified (LDM): 3 November 2012 at 18:01. URL: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Shanghai_Maglev_Train Title: Shanghai Maglev train LDM: 31 October 2012 at 14:51. URL: http://science. howstuffworks. com/transport/engines/maglev-train. htm Title: How the Maglev train works LDM: 26 January 2012
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