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Germany To Build New Maglev Railway

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the riding-on-a-cloud dept.

Toys 297

EWAdams writes "According to the BBC, the Bavarian state government has announced that it has signed an agreement with Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway system, and the Transrapid consortium, to provide a maglev railway between central Munich and its airport. The only other maglev in full operation at the moment is in Shanghai, again as a city-to-airport service. The cost of the system is estimated at $2.6 billion. No completion date has been announced."

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2.6 Billion? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749551)

Shouldn't they just invest that in Facebook?
I hear it's going to be big!

Re:2.6 Billion? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749877)

The real reason is to ship the Jews quicker to the camps. Damn Nazis never change.

Re:2.6 Billion? (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750031)

Your total lack of an argument was just invalidated by Godwin's Law. I think my brain exploded.

-:sigma.SB

Re:2.6 Billion? (0, Troll)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750155)

The real reason is to ship the Jews quicker to the camps. Damn Nazis never change.
Actually, it will pass the former KZ Dachau in about 3 mile distance.

Why not a good old electric train on tracks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749575)

I bet you can buy a lot more for your 2.6 billion.

I am strongly opposed to maglev techonology (2, Funny)

BooleanLobster (1077727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749645)

I like to put pennies on the train tracks. Maglev trains take all the fun out of it!

Re:I am strongly opposed to maglev techonology (5, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750189)

Try a sack of iron filings instead.

-jcr

Halbach Arrays (5, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749751)

Halbach Arrays [wikipedia.org] would allow them to build a magnetically levitating train without active control of the magnets. The track would be nothing more than a series of aluminum or copper rings. The levitation doesn't work when the train is stationary, but secondary wheels only designed for low speed on a prepared surface could handle this. (Failure mode away from stations would be for the train to drag its belly. It could be designed to ear up the track, but ensure the passengers safety.) Electromagnetic drag also decreases as the speed of the train increases.

The resulting track and train would both cost a fraction of what they are currently spending. Both the levitation and guide magnets would be totally passive.

Re:Halbach Arrays (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750007)

Because of the price of Al and Cu, Thieves would steal the "tracks" if they were made of Al or Cu! I know I shouldn't, but I chuckle secretly inside and mentally award Darwin Awards every time someone electrocutes themselves stealing Al and Cu from live power poles. http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&safe=off&q=stealing+copper+aluminum+%2Belectrocuted&btnG=Search [google.com]

I work in the railway industry (4, Informative)

epseps (39675) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750123)

Actually for one of the companies involved in building the Maglev.

Copper theft is a problem mostly in open tracks but this one would be closed. The computer systems used can monitor intrusions onto closed tracks but only usually monitor intrusions in closed areas on open tracks like where PLCs are located (the controlers that work things like switches and interlockings etc). Also most new tracks are often made accessable only by maintenence trains rather than just being able to "walk" out onto the tracks.

In the cases of attempted copper theft on open tracks...I have some pretty gory stories that usually start with "what's that smell?"

For the curious, this is called Inductrack (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750555)

...and there is more information about it here [wikipedia.org] .

Inductrack is a brilliant technology, and not only can the principles be be used to produce cheap passively levitated trains, they also allow for the creation of passive magnetic bearings. While Halbach Arrays are very interesting themselves, and ideal for this system, they are not inherently necessary.

The parent is correct about the cost though; this technology should be inexpensive enough to allow for wide scale adoption of Maglevs. Why we are still squandering enormous wads of cash on the existing designs is truly baffling.

Re:Halbach Arrays (4, Informative)

students (763488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750761)

My impression from the article was that the merit of the chosen design was a passive train. Making the track passive instead would greatly increase the weight of the train and hence the energy cost of getting up to speed.

Because they're noisy and dangerous? (3, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750615)

Also, 2.6 billion dollars is only 1.84 billion Euro, and dropping daily. :)

Monorail! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749579)

They will be like North Haverbrook.

Re:Monorail! (4, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749591)

I don't know, it sounds more like a shelbyville idea.

Re:Monorail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749651)

But isn't it true that you can get 'mono' from a monorail?

Re:Monorail! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750079)

That is false and class remember this

MONO = ONE
RAIL = RAIL

Re:Monorail! (3, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749663)

Is there a chance the track could bend?

Re:Monorail! (3, Funny)

kabz (770151) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749693)

Not a chance, my Hindu friend!!!

Re:Monorail! (3, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749819)

The ring came off my pudding can!

Re:Monorail! (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749949)

Have my pen knife my good man.

Re:Monorail! (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749723)

I call the big one Bitey.

Re:Monorail! (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749665)

And Brockway and Ogdenville

Re:Monorail! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750057)

There is a Las Vegas Monorail

Monorail Cat. (4, Funny)

Clanked (1156473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749605)

Will it be cat friendly?

Re:Monorail Cat. (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749637)

> Will it be cat friendly?

Depends. A monorail cat could still use wheels, unless they upgraded your cat [icanhascheezburger.com] to maglev.

Re:Monorail Cat. (1)

Clanked (1156473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749725)

You're sure the magnets can't create enough of a field, to make every hair on the cat stand up? Thereby providing enough lift for it to hover. Then just give your little poof-ball a shove, and of he goes.

Re:Monorail Cat. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749975)

> You're sure the magnets can't create enough of a field, to make every hair on the cat stand up? Thereby providing enough lift for it to hover. Then just give your little poof-ball a shove, and off he goes.

Done [icanhascheezburger.com] .

All someone has to do is Photoshop up something for "Lolrus and Bukket at Tenagra", and we'll have a complete set of image macros enumerating every conversation that can be held on a message board. (GODEL RLY!)

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749655)

Will it run on time?

Re:Yes, but... (1)

EvilBrak89 (966478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749721)

Of course, this is Germany we're talking about.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749797)

No it runs on magnetic fields.

Re:Yes, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749821)

It might actually run on thyme.

(See also http://xkcd.com/282/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:Yes, but... (1)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750563)

yes I hear it gets about 7.5 Km per minute. I don't know if thats good or not though since time is money. perhaps it depends on which currency is used.

Good for Bavaria (5, Insightful)

ucla74 (1093323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749699)

Imagine how wonderful it would be to have such a system between, say, JFK airport and Grand Central Station. But that makes way too much sense, from almost any view, to ever have a chance of actually happening in my lifetime.

Re:Good for Bavaria (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749895)

It is far more likely that if such a system gets built, it will be General Atomics. GA's is not only American, but it is a fraction of the price/mile. Of course, it is not as fast. The transrapid does 300 MPH+, whereas the GA will be 250. But the GA is expected to cost about the same as a monorail (5-10 million/mile), whereas transrapid cost 30 million/mile just in china.

What happened to Sandia's 'seraphim'? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750441)

Interesting to read about this and a related post ( http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=308361&cid=20749751 [slashdot.org] ) I actually did a small project at high school about maglev stuff and, at the time, the Seraphim engine + tech was the 'cutting edge' direction things seemed to be going in.

Rather than having the track be the motor (as per the german tracks), the Seraphim engine had the motor inside the vehicle instead. And instead of relying on full levitation, it mostly used the magnetic forces for propulsion and deceleration (braking), with only some of it used to generate a small amount of lift; leaving conventional wheel systems to do most of the support carrying; claiming that wheel friction is much less of an issue than air friction.

Though my critical note on that system was that the company didn't mention anything about wear&tear to any such wheel systems when going about at 300km/h and above, day in day out.

White elephants (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750485)

They claim...

The track between Munich and the airport is 37km; 23 miles long. A conventional express train (not even ICE) could do that easily in 20 minutes if it doesn't stop at each station. The maglev will do it in 10 mins.

Wouldn't it make more sense to operate the Maglev over a distance which would allow it to save a significant amount of time? i.e. Actually inter city?

Oh, and I don't believe those cost/mile figures for a second. Any of them.

Re:White elephants (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750899)

Oh, and I don't believe those cost/mile figures for a second. Any of them.

Wow! I'm totally convinced by your compelling argument - backed up with fact after fact after fact!

Re:Good for Bavaria (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750035)

If it's so wonderful, and makes so much sense, you should have no trouble at all convincing people to give you the $2.6+ billion it would cost. And the eminent domain you'd need for your easements. Let me know how your project works out.

Re:Good for Bavaria (3, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750361)

I know $2.6B sounds expensive, but try pricing out 18 miles of freeway, or even just widening and repaving 18 miles of an existing freeway. Those roads don't just pay for themselves.

Re:Good for Bavaria (3, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750971)

Those roads don't just pay for themselves.
Yes they do.

- General Motors

Re:Good for LAX (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750137)

To Grand Central? That is hardly enough room to build up speed. How about JFK to LAX?

Re:Good for LAX (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750193)

How about JFK to LAX?

Because it would not be competitive with jet travel over long haul routes like that. The maglev competes with short hop flights not long haul trips.

Re:Good for Bavaria (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750359)

Look, we can't even be bothered to spend enough money to maintain the infrastructure previous generations built for us.

Luv it... (5, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749743)

The Maglev in Shanghai (built by the Germans) is great fun. The ride takes less than 10 minutes, and you hit a top speed of 433kph - smooth as glass.

You can frequently find Japanese tour groups that will ride back & forth between the airport and downtown, like it was a theme park ride :)

When the Shanghai Maglev first went online, ridership was fairly low. The ticket cost is a bit high in local terms... Today, with the Olympics right around the corner, ridership means the train is usually full.

Plans are in place to build the next one as a longer leg, perhaps between Shanghai and Nanjing.

Will they use Jewish slave labour? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749983)

So, will they use Jewish slave labour to build the new train?

I am sure this would be very popular, given Germany's large Muslim population.

Re:Luv it... (2, Interesting)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750235)

it is one of my goals to ride one of these bullet trains.

I may not be the first to think of this (though google results for "high speed rail vacuum" seem to return results concerning toilets and braking systems) - could it be practical to build a vacuum-tunnel for a maglev train to travel through?

I was thinking that perhaps building a deeply submerged tunnel (through rock especially) would work well, since there would be no surrounding atmosphere to sneak in easily. It would seem easiest to form a vacuum-sealed tunnel underground as opposed to above ground.

In a vacuum tunnel how fast might a train be able to travel? It could perhaps actually beat air transportation?

Re:Luv it... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750381)

There's no cheap way to maintain a vacuum on earth.

All vacuum chambers are actively pumped, that means it costs money.

Re:Luv it... (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750323)

Yup, I've been on it twice. Just take a bus or cab to the subway. From there, you can get to the Maglev and ride it to Pudong International Airport. It costs 50 RMB one-way (currently $6.65 dollars).

I'll never forget the first time I rode it. After we boarded the train (inside reminds me of a Boeing 737 cabin; seats and all), I was headed over to the bin to place my back pack so I could find a seat to sit. As I was walking down the isle, we were already going about 50 KPH. That's right! I did *not* feel anything going from a standstill to 50 KPH standing up!

Reading about the Maglevs is one thing, but to actually ride in one is a whole other experience. It truly is ultra smooooth.

Lev it (3, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750561)

The Shanghai maglev is a great deal of fun to ride (if not very expensive), but it's poorly thought out. Since it's not well connected to the public transit system, it takes longer (and costs more) to get to Pudong International by the train than by a cab.

Of course, I may be especially bitter since the lady at the ticket window lied to me. =) When I got to the maglev station, I realized I hadn't checked if the plane ticket I'd bought in Shanghai was for Pudong or Hongqiao. I know the characters for Pudong, and I couldn't find them on my ticket, so I asked the ticket lady (in Chinese) if the characters for airport were for Pudong. She said yes. I said, *are you sure this ticket is for Pudong Airport?* She said yes. So I bought a ticket, had a fun ride on the maglevl, and promptly missed my flight from Hongqiao.

At 2.2 billion for a short hop, the German maglev seems very overpriced compared with comparable train systems. Linking all the major cities in California on a high speed rail network is only $30B by comparison.

Re:Luv it... (4, Informative)

grainofsand (548591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750693)

Whilst the Shanghai maglev is indeed a great train ride experience, it does not actually terminate anywhere near "downtown" Shanghai. It terminates about 15 kms from the Lujiazui central business district and does not cross the Pudong river to the Puxi side (Huaihai Road or Nanjing Xi Lu) business districts.

The reality is that the Shanghai maglev is poorly used because it fails to deliver travelers to where they want to go. The Shanghai maglev would be a spectacular success if it actually terminated in one of the major business districts in Shanghai. But it does not.

As it stands, it is a white elephant. A trimuph of engineering and an amazing proof-of-concept - but a terrible piece of transport planning.
 

Libertarians please read (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750985)

Guess what, you insufferable nincompoops? Our government is itself a product of the market system. Cities like New York, London, and San Francisco are successful precisely *because* of their enormous governments--they compete for capital, talent, and prestige against cities with small, ineffectual governments that are unable to effectively lure and corral said capital, talent, and prestige. And as goes the city, so go city-states and nations: Somalia, being a libertarian paradise, is a rather unpleasant place to live for non-ideologues. Somalians, those who can, vote with their feet and leave.

Now go suckle Ayn Rand's rotten tits some more and leave the rest of us alone, you stupid fucking Paultards.

Ripoff.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20749755)

At 2.6 Billion that is only about 2-weeks of Iraq war.

Which would you rather have? A shiny new Maglev or 2-weeks of war. Those Europeans have a warped sense of priorities.

And... (1)

egr (932620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749761)

...what's the point in overpriced railway?

Faster, quieter, low-maintenance, uses less energy (1, Informative)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750055)

Your question is like asking what's the point in hybrid cars because they cost more than a comparable traditional car. The up-front cost is recouped in later savings and it's better for the environment generally, while actually offering a higher standard of service. It's simply a better railway.

Re:Faster, quieter, low-maintenance, uses less ene (1)

egr (932620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750721)

I'm sure it's quieter, faster and probably requires less energy if magnets do not require power. But I always thought it required much more maintenance. However it's difficult to cover the price of such railway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev_train#Economics [wikipedia.org] there is some prices, for instance for the the Shanghai maglev it will take (9.93*10^9/(7000*50))/365 almost 78 years to cover the cost and it's not including maintenance.

Re:Faster, quieter, low-maintenance, uses less ene (1)

egr (932620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751055)

Actually I was also wrong about quieter, they are not.

Wrong! (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750765)

That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. The long term cost of a maglev is higher, as they require more power to operate. They're not environmentally friendly, since they use more power, and they require more infrastructure be build in the first place. And that extra speed costs you as well. If you'd like fast service despite the added cost, I'd like to point you to the eurostar, which travels at 200 mph, but is a conventional electric train. There is no good reason to use maglev over conventional tech (except for bragging rights).

Re:And... (2, Informative)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750151)

It has a top speed of 280mph in regular service with passengers.

The TGV on steel rails does 200mph in regular service, and it made a record run of over 300mph, but mechanical wear would probably be too high to go that fast in regular service.

2 words. (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750185)

...what's the point in overpriced railway?

  1. frictionless
  2. speed


Maglevs are expensive but achieve performance in term of people transportation that just can't be achieved with cars, even in a country where there's no generalized upper limit on the highways (although, I've heard, with all local speed limitations, nowaday it's hard to find long enough sectors to try to achieve mad speeds with a car).

Re:2 words. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750601)

1. frictionless
      2. speed

Ah, I'm glad they solved that damn "air friction" problem.

geek drawback.. (2, Interesting)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749765)

Just dont carry any hard/floppy disks, or Cassette/VHS/IBM370 tapes or other mag media on this train.

Your Donna Summer 8-Track will not survive..

Re:geek drawback.. (1)

mastergoon (648848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750011)

Do you have any source for this claim?

Re:geek drawback.. (1)

huha (755976) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750063)

The magnetic fields on board the Transrapid seem to be negligible, if you're trusting the manufacturer [transrapid.de]

Re:geek drawback.. (1)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750315)

Spoilsport - I really wanted to wipe that Donna Summer tape - Although I am not sure I trust a site that talks of "Electric Stovers"..

Maybe the nominal *rate of change* in Magnetic field is low, but how big is the static field, outside the cabin? I still reckon you will need a few more systems in real-life operation before we find all the drawbacks..

Re:geek drawback.. (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750757)

If they set up a one sided flux distribution, this wont be a problem.

Your Donna Summer 8-Track will not survive..

...then again, maybe subjecting all the passengers to strong magnetic fields has its upside....

2.6 billion? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749827)

Do you think it'll encourage more than 8% of journeys to be made by rail?

"OECD in Figures 2005 - Transport"
http://www.oecd.org/topicstatsportal/0,3398,en_2825_497139_1_1_1_1_1,00.html [oecd.org]

Or is it just a way for politicians to make themselves look good while wasting vast quantities of money?

 

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750127)

Do you think they're trying to pay it off in a year?

Re:2.6 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750321)

Do you think they're trying to pay it off in a year?
Well they got no payments and no interest till January 2009, but I'm sure they want to pay it off before they're hit with the prorated 2.6billion balance at 29.99% interest from the date of purchase.

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750641)

Heh, that made me laugh.

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750663)

It really doesn't matter if they plan to pay it off in a single year or not. It's state funded which means that the state taxpayers are paying to reduce the commute times on a service very few are likely to use more than once or twice a year, if that.

If the airport were funding the line I think we may have seen something rather different.
 

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750769)

It really doesn't matter if they plan to pay it off in a single year or not. It's state funded which means that the state taxpayers are paying to reduce the commute times on a service very few are likely to use more than once or twice a year, if that.

Sure it matters. If the income from the people who do use it is enough that it exceeds the annual operational cost by enough that within a reasonable time frame it pays for itself then the state and ergo the taxpayers will net a profit.

I think I was just confused by what you were intending for me to look at in that link -- I thought you were implying that 2.6bil was equivalent to 8% of the transportation industry that they'd need to capture in order to recoup costs. What data were you trying to point out?

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

mrvan (973822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750419)

The 8% only tells part of the story. The cost of car use to society increase with traffic intensity, as traffic jams cause material losses and relatively much pollution. Even in the Netherlands, which has high overall population density, public transport use is concentrated in the busy places and times. Some numbers from the statistics bureau [statline.cbs.nl] : In total, public transport use for commuting is 10%, comparable to the number in the parent. In rural areas, cars are used for 74% of commuting against 3% public transport and 20% bicycle use. This goes almost linearly to urban areas, where cars are only used for 40%, public transport is almost 25%, and bicycle use is 30%.

Conclusion 1: overall train use might be low, but if you differentiate for urban:rural, even where rural Holland is more like American suburban (no 1000-acre corn fields here!), you will see that train use is a lot higher in urban areas, where cars are causing most trouble in terms of congestion and pollution

Conclusion 2: train use for commuting is a viable alternative if the infrastructure is there and if the conditions are good, meaning (local) high population density (good for trains) and serious congestion and 8$ per hour street side parking (bad for cars). In the American urban areas, the conditions might not be that good due to suburban sprawl, but ridiculing trains because nationwide use is low does not make sense.

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750447)

Well, looking at the figures in your document there... In japan roughly a 1/3 of journeys are by rail, and in the USA its like 1%. This is partly explained by population density, but not entirely. Sweden has about the same population density as the USA, yet much more rail travel. Now, I think everyone knows that Japan has a very good railway network with very fast trains, and the USA has a poor railway network mostly intended for freight. So the only conclusion i can draw from this is that faster trains -> more travel by rail.

But in this particular case, I have no idea... It doesn't say how far it will be and what geographical obstacles there are, so its very hard to judge just how expensive this is. But I can say this: All kinds of railways in cities are very expensive, yet very necessary. 2.6 billion USD might actually not be that bad. I was surprised at how cheap the one in Shanghai was. Maybe it was because of cheap Chinese labor or a government that can do whatever it pleases, but there have been much worse railway projects in history.

What bothers me is that München might not be the perfect city for this. Its not very large or growing quickly, and the same is true for its economy. Shanghai on the other hand is without a doubt one of the worlds most important cities, since it is the economic engine of China. It is a good idea for Shanghai to invest in very high tech infrastructure. Partly to impress investors, and partly because rapidly increasing land values might make it impossible in the future.

Re:2.6 billion? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750621)

Do you think it'll encourage more than 8% of journeys to be made by rail?

Just for some perspective, Germany's 7.77% (according to those figures) is not half bad, as train statistics go. Only Hungary, Switzerland, and Japan have significantly greater train use -- a whole bunch of OECD countries are bunched up with Germany. Plus I'm not sure I have much faith in those figures -- apparently in my country, no one ever travels at all :-)

Or is it just a way for politicians to make themselves look good while wasting vast quantities of money?

I don't know enough about Munich politics to comment. But the S-Bahn trip between the airport and the city could do with being a lot quicker (though it's still a lot better than many major cities, *cough*New York*cough*). I don't know if maglev is the best option though.

What about Japan? (1)

ephesus (252335) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749909)

What about the Linimo in Japan running from Fujigaoka in Nagoya Japan? That's a maglev isn't it? And it's been running for over 2 years now.

Re:What about Japan? (1)

Nexx (75873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750407)

Yes, but with a top speed of 100km/h [wikipedia.org] , it's not exactly high-speed.

Here's what Bavaria's minister-president exclaimed (1)

huha (755976) | more than 6 years ago | (#20749969)

Bavaria's minister-president Edmund Stoiber is quite well known for his often outrageously unintentionally funny speeches. And because the Transrapid maglev will be built in Bavaria, he also had his say.
It happened quite some time ago, but nonetheless led to quite some laughter in Germany. It's rather confusing, even in German. A recording can be seen here [youtube.com] . For everyone not speaking German, here is a fairly rough translation (but watching the video helps. One just cannot capture this utter confusion by means of text):

If you're going from the main station in 10 Minutes without having to ckeck in at the airport, then you're basically starting your flight from the airport ... from the main station in Munic. 10 minutes, just look at the big airports. If you look at in Heathrow in London or elsewhere, Charles de Gaulle in France or in, erm, in Rome and look at the distances, if you look at Frankfurt, you'll find that you'll easily spend 10 minutes just to find your gate in Frankfurt. If you're starting from the air-, err, main station; you're boarding the main station, you get to the airport, the airport Franz Josef Strauß in 10 minutes with the Transrapid, then in principle you're starting [your flight] here at Munich main station. Of course, this means that the main station is getting nearer to Bavaria, to the Bavarian towns, because naturally many lines from Bavaria merge at the main station.

Re:Here's what Bavaria's minister-president exclai (1)

pcnetworx1 (873075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750107)

Wow, I had to really tilt my head far to the side while listening to that. Listened to it multiple times for a grand total of... ten minutes!

Hmm, oddity as well to note that the captcha for this post is Drunken...

Metal plate in head (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750073)

What happens when you are one of those poor souls with a metal plate in your head or elsewhere? Does the magnetic field fuck with you? I know some people can't have MRI's for that reason.

And magnetic strips on credit and... (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750979)

... ATM cards?

Stupid wasteful idea (4, Insightful)

mce (509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750095)

Having flown several times into and out of Munich before, I know what the current connection between the airport and the city is like: a complete nightmare. So I fully understand that they want to do something about it. But this maglev project of theirs is a complete waste of resources, economically (way too expensive) and technically (way to many dedicated material inputs). What they really should do, IMHO, is upgrade the rail connection to use standard high speed ICE trains. That's a lot cheaper and about just as effective.

This Maglev is only worth it for really long distances, like the Hamburg-Berlin line they once planned. But then again, there are good reasons why that is not working out. In short, I love the technology, but after about 30 years they should at long last admit that it was a practical failure and can the thing. But certain people can't admit mistakes and certain others (e.g. someone the Germans will be able to identify as soon as I write "Edmund" :-) ) are looking to build a monument for themselves at all cost (that idea totally fits his personality and current cereer status, by the way).

I guess the other White Elephant got lonely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750147)

do the Germans think these make them look all "high-tech"? it just makes them look foolish.

$2.6 Billion- That's USD (2, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750183)

Don't forget, about 7 years ago, that would've been about $1.3 Billion. Why not just list the price in Euros? We have enough people here that know what it is; plus, then the pricing doesn't need to be re-adjusted constantly.

Offtopic Prediction: 10 years from now, the USD will have fallen dramatically because commodities have begun to transfer from being traded in USD to either the Euro or the Yuan

Re:$2.6 Billion- That's USD (1)

Nexx (75873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750365)

Offtopic Prediction: 10 years from now, the USD will have fallen dramatically because commodities have begun to transfer from being traded in USD to either the Euro or the Yuan

Not while the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade, about to merge into one super-commodities exchange, as well as NYMEX and NYBOT, remain among the premier commodities exchanges in the world, and we're not even looking at Futures and Options being traded at the likes of Chicago Board Options Exchange (as well as F&O trading that happens at CME and CBOT). We're also forgetting that NYSE bought Euronext (and thus London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange).

Long story short, I wouldn't worry too much about this if I were you.

bullyish name calling taking place at high levels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750215)

that should solve most of yOUR problems?

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this is fantastic! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750231)

the first maglev cattle cars for the jews.
 
oh, come on, you know you laughed deep inside.

Alas the first Maglev closed in 1995 (3, Interesting)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750263)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev_train [wikipedia.org]

I hope the German one turns out to be more technically reliable.

Re:Alas the first Maglev closed in 1995 (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751033)

Hmm "Defective by design" comes to mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev_train#September_22.2C_2006_crash [wikipedia.org]

Note the date of the accident, there was just the 1 year remembrance of this tragic accident killing 22 people. The timing couldn't have been worse, or better, as I'm not so sure if it's a good idea to build it here in Germany.

The point is, they forgot a maintenance car on the test track. Now this is a CLOSED test track, on poles, nothing unexpected can pass (except birds I guess). No one apparently thought of a system to keep track of the cars that are present on the track, even though it would be very simple to do electronically (railroad sign posts are not exactly new)! They used some error-prone system of manually keeping track if someone left the track or not. In the end they blamed it as a personal error on the guy in the control room, even though the whole design was apparently lacking in security measures (let me guess, a cost issue?).

If nothing else, the 22 people that died proved that this system, or at least the development of it here in Germany, is by far not ready for the heavy use they want to do with it in Bayern. As someone else here wrote, this will mainly be built as a monument for the glorious Stoiber, not because it's the most reasonable thing to do.

Waste of Money? (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750305)

One has to wonder if it's really worth the money, or is it just a boondoggle? German tax rates are already very high, among the highest in Europe. These high taxes are responsible for much industry moving to, or starting in, other EC countries with much lower costs, such as Slovakia or even Ireland (Ireland has low taxes but other costs are now getting quite high). This is quite a problem, particularly in the East, where the industrial base is not as developed as in the West. The West has many highly skilled jobs, such as R&D, that cannot be easily moved to other countries nor easily replicated by those countries. The East gets both bad parts of both underdeveloped countries - the high taxes and expenses of being in Germany with the economic development of Romania.

I am not saying that the West hasn't put a lot of money into fixing up the east since reunification. In fact, the German government has spent more money fixing the East than the US has destroying Iraq. Industry is slowly moving into the east, at least in the larger cities (Dresden and Leipzig), but its pace is slow. It could be sped up by lowering taxes.

I wonder about expensive German projects like the railway tunnel under the center of Leipzig. It's Leipzig's version of Boston's "Big Dig". It has a cost of over 20,000 eu per Leipzig resident! While it is appealing from a transportation point of view and exciting from a civil engineering one, I don't see it as being worth the price. The Munich project sounds similarly unjustified.

All this having been said, I am not 100% just of myself. I have never been to Munich, I don't know how bad the airport travel is. It's also possible that much of this spending will in fact (rather than in rhetoric) be an investment which can be recouped by future sales to other cities and countries. Perhaps some of the R&D necessary has already been done in the Shanghai project.

As far as what one poster said about New York: Surely, you jest. It would be so expensive and poorly constructed, if done in and by New Yorkers, that it wold make Boston's Big Dig look like a swiss watch by comparison. I don't think that New York has the wherewithal to build another wonder of the industrial world on the scale of the Brooklyn Bridge. Hopefully, they'll know enough not to attempt it. I have considerably more confidence in the competence and honesty of Germans in completing such a large project.

 

Nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20750497)

The tax rates in Germany are _not_ out of the European average.
It's the additional cost of the social security systems which drives the labor cost high.
O the total money the employer has to pay (that's high than the salary,
as the employer "pays" 50% of most social security fees), the employee gets sometimes
only 54%, pre tax. That also depends on you total income as there are caps
for the social security fees...

The employee has to pay even taxes on some of the social security fees (the 50% he "pays")
as they are included in the taxable salary (he gets the money as salary, hence tax, and has to pays into the
social security system immediately...involuntarily)....

They're gonna need 2.6 billion? (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750307)

They might meet some resistance...

Re:They're gonna need 2.6 billion? (1)

jm.one (655706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750515)

Please note that for us the Euro amount we have to spend stays mostly stable. While if you transfer this to dollar... the price seems to be permanently rising. ;)

Re:They're gonna need 2.6 billion? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750617)

They just need to amp up their public image a bit, and all will be fine.

Shanghai is Airport to .... uh, no where! (2, Informative)

grebonoj (890593) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750429)

If you're headed to Shanghai *don't* take the maglev.

The Shanghai system doesn't actually go anywhere... it gets about halfway (30KM?) from downtown before it just stops.

Interesting in a "we're hip, we've got a maglev" way, but sure would be more useful if you could take it to and from the airport.

The biggest limitation... (2, Interesting)

distantbody (852269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750955)

...with maglevs (well the current transrapids at least) is that, like all high-speed transport, they are only efficient as hub-to-hub sprinters, as they are relatively slow starters (see here) [bigpond.net.au] . As the low friction nature of levitation is the reason for their slow launches, I would propose some electrically driven wheels on the undercarriage making contact with the flat concrete track would be able to launch them to top speed (~400km/h or 249m/h) in an unprecedented time

Undercarriage wheels where actually used on some early prototypes to prop them up at rest. They may even be on the current generation IIRC.

If this was done then I think that maglev could be a transport revolution as the first high-speed urban AND interurban transport solution. It truly would be revolution!

Stupid stupid stupid (1, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#20750973)

This is pretty stupid. Maglev is a dead-end technology. Conventional rail has achieved 360 miles per hour a few months ago on a standard track with a souped-up standard train whereas maglev only goes up to 280 mph.

In addition, german Maglev technology is rather dangerous; an accident 1 year ago on a demonstration line killed 23 people [google.ca] , this accident was caused by inadequate (by design) signalling system. This is particularly concerning because the first role of railroad signalling is to indicate that the track is free from obstructions ahead so the train may proceed.

By contrast, not a single passenger has been killed in TGV, despite several derailments at high-speed during 26 years of service in Europe.

Re:Stupid stupid stupid (1)

egr (932620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20751025)

I agree. Maglevs are simply for showoff. Overpriced technology with no bonuses. It's not yet ready for use.
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