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Why we need maglev

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Maglev in Japan

A first generation superconducting maglev system is now operating in Japan. The system, which has been developed and built by Japan Railways, is located in Yamanashi Prefecture north of Mt. Fuji. Japan's system, and is based on the original maglev inventions of Drs. Powell and Danby. The 20 kilometer long, 2-way guideway system has succeeded in demonstrating the feasibility and advantages of maglev.

The Japanese vehicles are full size, commercial type maglev vehicles that run on the JR (Japan Railways) u-shaped guideway. Speeds of up to 350 mph have been achieved.

Intermodalism - that is, the capability to transfer easily and efficiently between different modes of transport - is very desirable. Because it can easily adjust to virtually any type of terrain, and can use existing rights of way, maglev is highly intermodal. Stations can be readily located adjacent to highways, airports, seaports, and rail stations.

Following the completion of their maglev test program at Yamanashi, Japan Railways will decide on whether to proceed with the planned 300 mile Tokyo to Osaka maglev system. Approximately 60% of the route will be in deep tunnels, traversing the central mountainous region of Japan. Maglev "trains", consisting of up to 14 vehicles attached together, will make the 300 mile trip in approximately 1 hour.

Japan Railways has also developed a mechanical switch for maglev guideways. The switch, must operate at low vehicle speeds, because of length limitations. To switch from one guideway line to another at high speed requires very long switch sections, hundreds of meters at 300 mph for example. In contrast, the M-2000 electronic switch can easily switch vehicles traveling at 300 mph.

Japanese Maglev Achievements

  • Full size, commercial type vehicles
  • Vehicle speeds up to 350 MPH
  • Vehicle/guideway clearances of 4 inches
  • Operation of multiple vehicle train sets
  • U-shaped guideway with Null Flux levitation loops
  • Magnetic propulsion by Linear Synchronous Motor
  • High speed operation in deep tunnels
  • Low speed mechanical switches


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2001 Maglev 2000


Maglev 2000