A maglev test vehicle for high-speed rail traffic, designed for an operating speed of up to 600 kmph, successfully completed an initial test run on a test track at Tongji University in Shanghai on June 21, 2020. China regards this as an important breakthrough in its development program for high-speed maglev systems. This rail system can be regarded as a direct further development of the German maglev technology Transrapid, which was denied an initial domestic application for political reasons.
In China, following the airport feeder in Pudong, a new 500-kilometer maglev line is to go into commercial operation by 2025. The high-speed Shanghai-Hangzhou line is part of the multi-year plan for ten supertransport projects. This project for a magnetic levitation train should therefore soon become reality. If everything goes as planned, the citizens of Hangzhou should be able to reach the center of Shanghai in 20 minutes after the line is completed in 2025. It is planned to extend the magnetic levitation train line via Hangzhou to Ningbo.
The sight of a single, autonomously running middle car is certainly an unusual sight for railway engineers, but it does show the decisive technological difference between the wheel/rail system and the magnetic levitation train with long stator drive: the drive lies in the track.
The development of a magnetic levitation train with an operating speed of 600 kmph is a key project in China’s “Advanced Rail Transit” program, which was initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016. The project team, in which one of the world’s largest rail industry companies, CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co, Ltd. is responsible for the technical part, has integrated experts from more than 30 companies, universities and research institutes.
The test on June 21, 2020 is the first dynamic operation of a prototype vehicle on the maglev test track in Shanghai and marks a major step forward compared to the previous static tests. The test run proved that the new vehicle development can be used in principle. The test is regarded as the basis for the further development and optimization of the next test vehicle for the high-speed maglev project in the top speed range.
According to the Chinese engineers of the CRRC Qingdao Sifang research and development team, the high-speed maglev section showed a stable hovering performance and perfect operating condition during the test. The next step is the industrialization of the advanced maglev technology.
Chinese transport researchers expect that a 600 kmph high-speed maglev train will close the speed gap between air and rail and help to build a more efficient and flexible transport system.
This information is based primarily on Chinese media reports. News in the Chinese media is controlled and financed by the state. It is therefore generally difficult to verify the accuracy of the information received, the International Maglev Board concludes. However, academic sources of the Board have been able to confirm the essential aspects of Chinese media reports, it says.