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Maglev On the Drawing Boards

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the float-like-a-butterfly dept.

Transportation 334

longacre sends along a Popular Mechanics article on the growing interest in magnetic levitation trains in the US. It's unclear how many will actually get built here, at $100 million per track mile. (In recent years we've discussed maglev projects in China and Germany.) The article has a map of many proposed transportation projects in the US, some of them maglev, and a video of a General Atomics maglev prototype in action. On a related note, an anonymous reader recommends this article on a proposed maglev wind-power turbine, said to offer the promise of replacing 1,000 conventional wind turbines.

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Power consumption? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21490893)

I was looking into the power consumption that maglev would require, and it's phenominal. See here. [google.com]

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491083)

Not a troll, actually is quite interesting. Very deep.

Good point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491181)

I think that the level of power needed to produce reliable results will inflate the costs beyond what is acceptable for the forseeable future.

Why modded troll? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491569)

Have you actually looked at what the guy said, and what he linked to? It makes a lot of sense.

Re:There are alternatives, y'know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491657)

Contrary to what's been posted in the original link, there are systems such as Indutrac and MDS that do not require any power to activate magnets.

Re:Power consumption? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491835)

What slashdot needs is a 'goatse/tubgirl/...' moderation label.

Foolish Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21490897)

Windmills do not work that way!

How much is that in ... (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490923)

It's unclear how many will actually get built here, at $100 million per track mile. ... "years of war in country X/Y/Z" per track mile ?


Geez. As if finding money to throw around was ever a problem for politicians. And building a coast-to-coast maglev line would be a much less dangerous waste of money than some other, er, projects.

Re:How much is that in ... (4, Funny)

hjf (703092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490967)

days of war in country X/Y/Z" per track mile ?
there, fixed it for you

Re:How much is that in ... (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491027)

What's the current number, by the way? Last I recall it was about USD 1 billion per week for Iraq.

Re:How much is that in ... (2, Informative)

rho (6063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491359)

I've seen numbers anywhere from 5 to 12 billion dollars a week. It's hard to calculate exactly because there's a mess of hidden costs--medical and the like.

Re:How much is that in ... (0)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491497)

There is a big difference between Iraq and Maglev trains though. In the case of Iraq most of the money most goes to US businesses or servicemen so benefits the ecomony. In the case of maglev trains the money might benefit the US companies that make them, but it will harm the US automobile industry. This is why it will never happen, the US motor lobby will do it's best to prevent fast mass transit. I can't see the US airline industry being to happy about it either since it will cost them business too.

So the net result will be an awful lot of companies lobbying against it from the very beginning.

Re:How much is that in ... (2, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491531)

With the aging equipment and copious amounts of private labor the cost is about $700,000/year for each soldier and support.

(based on spending requests), (200,000,000 total/year). The cost of the war in Iraq and Afganistan combined is 3,000,000,000/week (triple your estimate), with 80% of that being for Iraq.

My source is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/28/AR2007082801984.html?hpid=topnews [washingtonpost.com] and based on bills the white house wants passed.

Re:How much is that in ... (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490987)

All we need is some rural politician to champion it. A Ted Stevens comes to mind. This would be perfect for pork, copious amounts of pork.

I know its popular to blame the war for everything (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491481)

but here is the real issue.

How many votes per mile of track can a Congressman buy?

Answer that instead.

The amount of money just wasted in earmarks alone could solve a multitude of problems, from medical care, rehabilitation for our vets, maglev, NASA, and more. You name it, we have the money for it.

The problem is, not all of the above garner vote buying opportunities.

The real reason the Iraq war annoys Congressmen is that it deprives them of money they could have used in directed vote buying campaigns. Instead of a monument to a living Congressman (read: new pool in your neighborhood or library - etc) it went overseas and is lost to them. Now it does garner votes in a negative way but Congressmen prefer postive vote buying expenditures.

Now the problem I see with the maglev tower is, who is going to want it in their backyard? It looks more palatable than a windfarm but its so damn tall that that the land area may be moot versus the "sight pollution". Of course we already have giant cooling towers but this thing looks larger.

We really need a new Mahattan project for our generation - one that frees us of fossil fuel generated power. Of course our next problem will be heat pollution - all that power does have a side effect (green power or not)

Re:I know its popular to blame the war for everyth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491555)

The real reason the Iraq war annoys Congressmen is that it deprives them of money they could have used in directed vote buying campaigns. Instead of a monument to a living Congressman (read: new pool in your neighborhood or library - etc) it went overseas and is lost to them.
Those corrupted bastards!!! They would spend money on such despicable things!?! Oh, humanity, the horror!

Free 747s for everybody would be cheaper. (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491825)

A fleet of state funded 747s would get everybody there quicker/cheaper.

Plus, what about all the new power cables and power stations it would need. A project this big would cause a worldwide shortage of copper (which would push the "price per mile" through the roof).

America is simply too big for this sort of project. Building vast stretches of maglev track doesn't add up.

Negro (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21490927)

Great, just another thing the niggas can graffiti up!

Why get so fancy? (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490933)

The Japanese, who probably ride more miles of rail than any other country in the world, rely on plain old rails. Even the famous Bullet Trains run on rails.

Sometimes it feels like Americans are trying to put the cart before the horse when they don't even have anything to put on the cart.

Re:Why get so fancy? (2, Interesting)

bsane (148894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490977)

Exactly...

How is maglev better anyway? So you reduce your rolling friction to zero, what do you save? 1% of total operating power? You'd spend a lot more if your using electromagnets to keep the 'lev' action going...

On the subject of maglev windmills- I fail to see any real savings here. Windmills are hard to turn because they're doing work (ie creating power with a generator), the actual friction involved is very low.

If you want a train/subway, just build the damn thing. Same goes for windmills.

Re:Why get so fancy? (1)

Cemu (968469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491201)

On the subject of maglev windmills...
Did anyone notice the size of the turbines they are going to construct? They'll produce "400 to 5,000 watts ," while the traditional wind turbines produce "five megawatts ." I'm not too sure about this article, they may just be blowing a lot of hot air.

Re:Why get so fancy? (5, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491273)

The advantage is speed. A maglev train is essentially a plane without wings, so speeds of 300+MPH are not unreasonable right now. In theory, though, a Maglev can reach the 500+MPH of a commercial jet.

Of course, the French TVG is also about that fast, so that advantage no longer really holds much weight until the technology improves. Maglev right now is pretty much a "bright shiny thing" to make the public all doe-eyed so they don't mind the pork as much. (Much like the "Hydrogen Economy")

You might not have noticed, but America is a pretty big country. If you want to cross it, you have three options: Plane (~500MPH), Train (~80MPH) or car/bus (~60MPH). Assuming you're not making the trip for the scenery, the choice is pretty much a no-brainer.

A fast train, ~300MPH, would make trans-continental travel easier. Even if it took twice as long, it would still be same-day travel and I'd prefer to take a high speed train than an aircraft (unless I *had* to get there in 6 hours). If a viable Maglev train could cover the distance at the same speed as the jet, though, then there is no advantage to flying at all.
=Smidge=

Re:Why get so fancy? (5, Insightful)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491599)

You might not have noticed, but America is a pretty big country....

True, but a significant portion of intra-US trips take place within the northeast, the most densely populated part of the country. Washington-Boston is 450 miles; New York-Chicago is 800 miles. There's also a lot of intra-West Coast travel -- LA-San Francisco (400 miles), LA-Phoenix (375), San Francisco-Seattle (800 miles).

One of my pet peeves is that many Americans, when told about how Europeans are much more likely to travel by train, reflexively point out how big America is. It's true, but when Europeans travel from, say, Madrid to Warsaw, they fly. It's the sub-1000-mile trips on which trains can be competitive with both air and car travel if they're upgraded to high-speed standards -- something that can be done far more cheaply and easily than building a maglev. And with trains being far less polluting per passenger than either cars or planes, and air travel being an increasingly unpleasant experience, it's high time to invest in upgrading rail corridors.

Re:Why get so fancy? (2, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491017)

How can there be a growing interest in maglev trains when there is an overall decreasing interest in travel by train?

Re:Why get so fancy? (0, Troll)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491109)

They expect a huge increase in demand for trains once they start shipping people to the death^H^H^H^H^Hre-education camps.

Re:Why get so fancy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491639)

Been to airport lately? Or, perhaps you have already got used to procedure. Many folks would prefer less maltreatment when traveling, if only there was another way to get far fast. When you count in the time you lose in airport before the flight, train can be quite competitive to air travel, even with somewhat lower speed then plane.

Actually (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491043)

Actually there are several technologies that are being developed for the (more or less) same thing: the german and the japanese are considered the leaders in this field.

The key difference between Japanese and German maglev trains is that the Japanese trains use super-cooled, superconducting electromagnets. This kind of electromagnet can conduct electricity even after the power supply has been shut off. In the EMS system, which uses standard electromagnets, the coils only conduct electricity when a power supply is present. By chilling the coils at frigid temperatures, Japan's system saves energy.

Another difference between the systems is that the Japanese trains levitate nearly 10 cm above the guideway. One potential drawback in using the EDS system is that maglev trains must roll on rubber tires until they reach a liftoff speed of about 100 kph. Japanese engineers say the wheels are an advantage if a power failure caused a shutdown of the system. Germany's Transrapid train is equipped with an emergency battery power supply.

Anyway, this is a very new technology, so there is A LOT place for innovation here.

Re:Actually (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491069)

22 years ago I went to this [wikipedia.org] .

And I rode on this [wikipedia.org] .

While they certainly have improved the technology since then, maglev remains an oddity.

Re:Actually (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491463)

Liquid helium is not cheap. Keeping helium liquid is not cheap. I have no idea how much it costs, but its not "free" to keep the coils that cold, as you imply.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491829)

Once you reach superconducting state of conductor, there will be no dissipation of heat in it, so you won't have to pump so much heat out. Hence, once you reached it, you don't really need liquid helium anymore, you need vacuum surrounding the coils and thermal radiation shield [wikipedia.org] to prevent the heat from getting IN (and some kind of heat pump between the outer shield and coils' container, all in all, much smaller volume to keep cool). Therefore, you can do phase transition and evacuate all of helium (in its gaseous phase, for easier handling) back into the reservoirs. Now when I think about it, you can bring the coils into superconducting state sequentially, one by one, thus needing even less helium. Once everything is cool (pun intended), flip the switch, energize the coils, the train levitates and is ready to move.

Re:Why get so fancy? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491253)

Actually, just about every high-speed rail system uses normal standard gauge track. Of course, that track needs to generally be built to a much higher standard (ballast must be up to spec, concrete ties, no narrow curves, space between the tracks if the trains can tilt into curves, etc... one of the major design flaws of the Acela was that the tracks were placed several inches too close to each other, which severely speed of the trains)

This also allows for backward and forward compatibility. Old trains can use new track (usually allowing them to run at 100% speed for the length of the track), and new trains can slow down to the speed of conventional rail when riding on old track.

The differences between high-speed systems themselves are usually limited to the sort of signaling and switching equipment used. It's all normal standard gauge track

Too expensive? (4, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490969)

It's unclear how many will actually get built here, at $100 million per track mile.
The problem is that this technology is still a bit away from being fully completed. And $100 million per track mile is very optimistic considering the Japanese Linimo HSST cost some $100 million per kilometer, or rougly 0.62 miles. I mention this particular maglev construction because it could be similar to what the US is looking for - a low speed version that works perfectly within cities. Still, anything faster than that is also extremely expensive.

Maybe this technology is still 20 years away from being feasible at all. Why not spend money on regular trains and install extra isolated windows in cities at only a fraction of the cost?

Re:Too expensive? (2, Interesting)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491145)

And $100 million per track mile is very optimistic considering the Japanese Linimo HSST cost some $100 million per kilometer, or rougly 0.62 miles.

I've had a fascination with maglevs since Popular Mechanics did an article in the early 1990s or late 1980s. Finally, I made it to the World Fair in Aichi in 2005 and saw the Linmo ("Linear Motor"). Actually, I rode it. It was awesome. Not the "awesome" that kids use when they do well on a test, but the "awesome" from waiting for something and then unexpectedly being able to do it after 15 years. The ride was smooth as silk (vertically speaking); the starts and stops were a little sudden, and there seemed to be discrete speed steps. With that said, I have a hard time imagining that $100 million was spent wisely. A rail car could have done the same job for far less. If moving a person costs (installation) + (operating expenses), a maglev has to move a whole lot of people at lower (operating expenses) to make up for the phenomenal (installation).

Between the maglev and the walking robots from Honda playing Louisiana style jazz, the whole hot, crowded, noisy, expensive trip was well worth it.

Re:Too expensive? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491203)

"$XXX per track mile" sounds remarkably simplistic - particularly when you consider that Japan is a much smaller area of land than the US, with a much denser population.

Re:Too expensive? (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491431)

... particularly when you consider that Japan is a much smaller area of land than the US, with a much denser population

I'm guessing you actually meant a much higher population density.

Re:Too expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491641)

Maybe both. Fat Americans float in water.

Re:Too expensive? (1)

morgdx (688154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491823)

The west coast mainline upgrade in good old blighty has cost something like 20 billion dollars for less than 300 miles of track between London and Manchester:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coast_Main_Line#Modernisation_by_Network_Rail [wikipedia.org]

All this to achieve a speed of around 140mph. Does MagLev still look expensive?

Need track upgrades, but not this (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490985)

The US Rail system needs a track upgrade. The east coast is going from horrible to better, but beyond the great divide, track conditions are apalling. Seems to me the best way to go would be to get more track certified for 120-150mph runs in the northeast corridor, and that would take the demand off of congested airports, and would certainly be more fuel economical.

Re:Need track upgrades, but not this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491163)

Wow, fast trains in the Northeast, what a great idea! It's amazing nobody's ever thought of that before!

Re:Need track upgrades, but not this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491593)

I agree there needs to be a track upgrade. In the US, railroads are the only one of the major transportation systems (road, rail, air, waterway) not maintained by the government. Instead, the railroads themselves are responsible for maintenance + upgrades. That's expensive, and not likely to happen unless there's an economic reason to do so.

Also, most of the trackage in the US is owned by freight railroads (Union Pacific, BNSF, etc). Amtrak has to pay for the right to run trains on those rails. High-speed passenger trains require significantly higher quality/more expensive tracks than freight trains do, so Amtrak or the gov't would have to pay the freight railroads to upgrade the trackage. Sadly that's unlikely to happen soon.

How do you even spend that much? (3, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21490999)

A hundred million bucks a mile? Do they have to coat the trains with moon rocks?

-jcr

Re:How do you even spend that much? (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491063)

You'll be given cushy jobs!

Re:How do you even spend that much? (4, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491409)

A hundred million bucks a mile? Do they have to coat the trains with moon rocks?
They build jet fighters, melt them and use it for tracks. Apparently, John Woo is involved in this project too.

Re:How do you even spend that much? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491781)

Just out of curiosity, I looked up a couple of things you can buy for a hundred million bucks.. That amount of money will buy three airplanes like this one [aircraftdealer.com] , for a start.

-jcr

Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491007)

With the track so expensive, they are assuredly not the most efficient solution. The only reason you do a project like this is one or more of ...
  • Showing off to other states how advanced you are.
  • Possible side benefits from the technology you develop to solve the engineering problems
  • Government corruption sponsored by the engineering firms involved

Personal Rapid Transit [csmonitor.com] systems would seem to be much smarter.

They fit in with the western "everything personalised" thinking. Because they are a monorail based system, they can be erected alongside existing street plans thus increasing people-throughput by actually adding another conduit of transit. Street-level trams and bus lanes remove a conduit of transit for cars and are thus never popular. Underground trains have expensive (or impossible) infrastructure requirements. In contrast, the only onsite construction for a monorail is driving pylons. The rest can be prefabricated and hung in a short time.

For intra-city travel, the idea seems to be ideal.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (3, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491091)

Most European cities would shit a brick if you suggested putting in an elevated monorail. Underground is far more expensive, but far more desirable, as it doesn't spoil the view that has taken hundreds of years to evolve.

A monorail is far from ideal.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491161)

100 years to evolve... and stop.

While I love the landscape/cityscapes in Europe, in any city that hasn't shut down their growth an elevated platform is probably the simplest/cheapest solution for growing the mass transit. Certainly there are obstacles (power lines, obstructed views, etc) but they are many orders of magnitude less than the obstacles faced by an underground system.

I just have this image of a subway being built under an old European city, them discovering another city buried underneath the 'modern' one and it holding up construction for years while it is excavated.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491321)

I just have this image of a subway being built under an old European city, them discovering another city buried underneath the 'modern' one and it holding up construction for years while it is excavated.

That happens quite often, and usually the archaeologists get a few months to take away everything. I heard that it's very desirable for archaeologists, because they don't have to keep the site intact for tourism ;-) "Take everything, it will be destroyed if you don't" is quite a good motivator.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491731)

OR

A: "Boss, we found some strange pots and old things."
B: "Keep digging, quickly, before the archeologisticians come."

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491499)

In city planning, simplest/cheapest is rarely the best option. Having elevated railways would damage cities based on tourism, as all their favourite tourist destinations and vistas would be blighted by utterly utilitarian mass-transit systems. "Simplest/cheapest" in city planning means cookie-cutter houses, grid-layout for streets, poor public transport. Heck - "simplest/cheapest" means Los Angeles. Yikes.

And has been pointed out, excavations in Europe often turn up lots of interesting stuff. Usually not whole cities (but that has happened), but usually lots of artifacts of major historical value, which would never have been found (and carefully excavated and put on display) had the initial construction never been attempted.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491717)

Except Vegas, where the monorail is cool, and Chicago, where the El is a tourist destination and ... oh shit, data doesn't belong on slashdot, just baseless accusations.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491773)

That's not saying anything particularly nice about either Vegas or Chicago. I doubt you'll find many major European cities which strive to be as vapid as Vegas or as post-industrial-shit as Chicago. Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, etc. all have their particular style, which is (whether deserved or not) "hundreds of years old, home to some of the most important art in the world, birthplace of western civilisation, etc. etc. etc.", not "look we've got cheap slots" or "come look at our trains in the sky".

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491767)

grid-layout for streets

Grid layout is the absolute best way to build streets, at any price.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491813)

Not particularly. If the city which you're planning has major population centres spread out in a non-grid-alignment, or conflicting routes, it's very ineffective to use a grid. Unless you want endless queues of people turning left-right-left-right, or driving clear across town to make one turn, then clear back to get to their destination. Or into the sun at sunset/sunrise. Again, it's cheap and easy, but it's far from ideal.

Re:Maglevs are just techno-posing (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491325)

You're right ; in fact, what I would consider ideal would be for people to just travel less, particularly office workers.

I'm an extreme case ; I can spend up to 20 hours a week commuting, but for me there is no correlation between being in the office and being more productive ; I got much more done this weekend at home than I did in the first two days of this week.

So ; yes, if people cared about aesthetics less, PRT in cities would be ideal. Hell, it would be pretty good on the suburban scale in places like the UK where things are rather more compressed than they are in the States. Public transport having been deregulated here, bus companies fight for road space in rush hour, and cancel all their services after 2330. PRT would solve this because it costs the same to provide the same service 24 hours a day, and because the quantization is small.

Looks nice but... (1)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491011)

... which will produce maglev wind turbines with capacities ranging from 400 to 5,000 watts.

... not very promising.

Not yet (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491015)

At $100 million per mile, I can't see how these would be cost effective. I think the money would be better spent improving existing railway and bus infrastructure, and fixing traffic problems caused by poorly designed highways.

Of course, a comprehensive plan of improving infrastructure isn't nearly as sexy as a fancy, space-age flying train.

Transportation in the 21st century... (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491051)

... for fleas [wordpress.com] !

math (0, Offtopic)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491057)

can someone do the mats how many miles of maglev can we built across america for a similar amount thats spent in Iraq so far?

Re:math (0, Offtopic)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491071)

hmm spell check turned off again ^^ sorry! i am gonna get ripped by the grammar brigade

Re:math (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491219)

Nah, that'd be the spelling brigade... Watch out though, the grammar brigade will be after you for your lack of capital letters and insufficient punctuation!

Re:math (2, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491117)

According to this page [nationalpriorities.org] , when I looked at it, the US could have built 4,722.5 miles of maglev track for the cost of the war in Iraq. That's nearly twice the distance between NY and LA, as the crow flies.

Re:math (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491195)

People often say "With the money we spent on Iraq, we could have done $GOODTHING". I think it'd be more interesting to hear about things that would be more expensive than Iraq. Seriously, what couldn't we have done with that money?

Re:math (2, Insightful)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491303)

"Seriously, what couldn't we have done with that money?"
Get an honest answer from the Republican party and the oil lobbyists about why we invaded Iraq.

Re:math (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491827)

Again, that is money that never should have been spent in the first place, on anything.

The Government needs to spend less money, not just shift spending around.

What is it with the US these days... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491087)

And I don't mean just the government -- it seems to be a culture around here from the public on up to the government that they have to just find something, anything, to spend money on. If the Christmas season isn't proof enough of that, this is another perfect example.

Why even waste money talking about maglev trains when they could improve existing infrastructure using technology a generation or two ahead of the antiquated stuff we have in the US and get the same result using five percent of the money?

Its seriously like the whole damn country has this attitude of "oh, we can still borrow more money, so lets find something to spend it on before they stop lending it to us!"

Re:What is it with the US these days... (1)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491141)

It is largely due to our government in the US. Generations now are not being taught about how to save money and not go crazy with credit debit. The government only helps this attitude with how they spend their money. I personally think that it will balance out in a generation or two. Once people learn from their mistakes.

Re:What is it with the US these days... (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491733)

The government only helps this attitude with how they spend their money.

The government doesn't spend their money - it spends the money of working citizens - and as long as people are not raising absolute holy hell about taxes then the government will continue to spend vast sums on anything and everything - and that won't happen as long as there is less and less need to work for even the basics - after all if things are going to be provided to you why should you have to work for them? One would have thought Americans would have the education to realize every dollar spent by the government is (more than) one dollar less of productive progress - but hey, our votes for the "gimme more" state of mind came pretty cheap, since everyone has their cause - and it's great as long as it's the "free money" of the government being spent.

Re:What is it with the US these days... (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491171)

It's just an article someone at PM wrote, it gives you no insights about public or political desires on how to spend money. Actually spending per person was down this year on black friday.

The reason articles like this are written is because it is more exciting to think about spending money on some gee-whiz new technology than any boring existing technology we know works.

Another stadium please (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491129)

We need a good place for our bread and circuses. Maglev trains? Space exploration? Genetics research? These things do not entertain. We, the people, would instead like distraction. If you give it to us, you can continue plundering us blind while decaying our nation into third world misery, as Plato predicted you would. If you don't treat us like mushrooms, we will not elect you, and you will not become a millionaire and will be reduced to walking among us.

Re:Another stadium please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491235)

My democratic vote goes for a new TV channel with less commercial breaks: sports and top-notch Hollywood entertainment 24/7 to make me more apathetic to the lies of liberal "social progress."

To the ****** commenting on price (5, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491139)

Google for the cost of highway construction and one of the gems you find is this http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume2/v2i1a3s2.html [usc.edu] link.

Read it and weep. 100 million per mile? Most costly project was 1 billion per mile and plenty of other projects are higher as well.

Now google a bit further and you find more "reasonable" costs of 20 million per mile being quoted but it makes it bloody clear that roads are very expensive indeed.

Yes sometimes they are cheap at a 1-3 million per mile, if the highway is simple and the conditions are ideal. This is however rarely the case. If you follow these kinds of projects you will also know that there are always complicating factors. For instance the straight road sections might be cheap, but the points where they connect to the rest of the road network, that is where the money really starts to bleed away. As for when you need a bridge or a tunnel. Just forget it.

Also offcourse not all highways are the same. One going through open desert vs one going through a city has huge extra costs in the form of safety, sound reduction and landcosts.

A further thing you might want to ask, how costly is maintenance, and what is the capacity of this network? It is less hassle to replace tradiotional rails then it is too resurface a road. How long is this 100 million per mile going to last you before more millions are needed to maintain it?

Then there is the question of what you get for it, if this 100 million dollar per mile track means you don['t have to construct/upgrade 10 road systems per say 20 million dollar per mile, then you are actually saving money.

But please slashdotters, next time you feel like posting about how costly something is, do a bit of research first. Although I really wish reporters would do it as well.

Re:To the ****** commenting on price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491335)

So what you're saying is, a road under ideal conditions costs 1-3 million per mile. The 100 million figure for maglev is also under ideal conditions. So maglev is 30-100 times more costly.

Screwed! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491151)

Hmmm. Maglev seems like a very nice idea. But financing is my sticking point. It's a train system that probably will not run through my state; and if it did, it would probably be on the other extreme. So it would be a $100million/mile train line that I wouldn't benefit from, yet I would have to pay for! I'm getting the same feeling I got in college whenever they would want to build a new sports complex. Screwed!

wind turbine story is hot air (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491153)

Maglev doesnt seem to have much to offer in the wind turbine arena. Plain old ball bearings have very low friction, not much can be gained by lowering the friction to zero.

And what's the deal with "1000 times the power"? The power is proportional to the swept area, so you'd need a windmill 33 times bigger. And its weight would go up as the cube of 33, which wul dbe mighty unweildly.

Maglev turbine: Drawbacks? (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491165)

The article says 1 gigawatt (that's 1 billion [US] watts) from a structure that would cost ~$53 million to build. What are the drawbacks? Why hasn't someone built one yet? That seems a lot cheaper than mining, shipping, and burning coal. Expensive maintenance costs? May not be cheaper than the status quo for the current energy manufacturers, but what about some Richard Branson type?

Re:Maglev turbine: Drawbacks? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491449)

Earnshaw's theorem probably has something to do with it.

In a nutshell, it's impossible to levitate something statically using only static magnetic fields. You will either need dynamic feedback (electromagnets, power required), mechanical constraints (friction) or rotational stabilization (tricky to get right so you can't rely on wind power to do it, also requires power)

The only other option is diamagnetic materials, but the magnetic fields you would need to levitate something that massive using only diamagnetic effects would be ungodly strong and probably pose a severe hazard to anything nearby, with noticeable effects hundreds or maybe thousands of feet away.
=Smidge=

So how does this work? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491629)

it's impossible to levitate something statically using only static magnetic fields.

So how does this thing work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8nCg0n0zXM [youtube.com]

MagLev train money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491193)

$100 million per track mile can buy a lot a wars.

Re:MagLev train money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491211)

It seems that the "in Iraq war money" is the new "Libraries of Congress".

Germany (5, Informative)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491199)

As someone living in Munich... I can tell you the German Maglev train is going nowhere. Everyone is opposed to it, except one politician who wants it as his 'swan song'.

They can either put in a Maglev for 1.2 billion euro for a 10 minute trip, or build a normal express S-bahn for 1 million for a 20 minute trip.

Maglev really makes no sense at all, but what do I know, maybe its more of a Shelbyville thing

Re:Germany (1)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491789)

Well, the Maglev in Munich might happen in the end... when a politician wants their white elephant, it's hard to change that. In any case, as the traffic between the airport and the city is huge, 10 minutes per person can be significant.

But in any case, you are wrong in one thing. The normal train would cost quite a bit more than 1 million. With 1 million you won't built even 200 meters of rail. And even less in a sub-urban area. The cost will probably be more close to 300 million. But in any case, the maglev is much more expensive.

I had a chat with one of the big fishes of Deutsche Bahn, and they were seriously studying it, as a possibly good investment

Well... (4, Funny)

NickCatal (865805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491243)

If Shelbyville and North Haverbrook [wikipedia.org] can afford it we can too!

I feel a song coming up... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491249)

- I hear those things are awfully loud...

- It glides as softly as a cloud.

- Is there a chance the track could bend?

- Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

- What about us brain-dead slobs?

- You'll be given cushy jobs.

- Were you sent here by the devil?

- No, good sir, I'm on the level.

- The ring came off my pudding can.

- Take my pen knife, my good man.

I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

- Monorail!

- What's it called?

- Monorail!

- Once again...

- Monorail!

- But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...

- Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

Monorail!
Monorail!
Monorail!

Monorail!

Mono... D'oh!

Maglev Boondoggle at ODU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491305)

A maglev project at Old Dominion University has been a boondoggle and an embarrassment to the community:
http://www.odu.edu/webroot/orgs/IA/university_news.nsf/articles/11152006091139AM [odu.edu]
http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=122680&ran=183404 [hamptonroads.com]

It's such a shame.

Now local officials want to construct a light rail line linking two non-residential areas. More colossal waste.

http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=136584&ran=226930&tref=rss [hamptonroads.com]

The miracle is that these decision makers keep their jobs. There must be a bright future in wasting money.

Problem with mass-transit funding (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491323)

It's easy (and somewhat logical) to say that rail infrastructure should be funded through state and federal taxes. The problem, though, is that all that such a funding model accomplishes is shift money from rural to urban areas.

Here in Pennsylvania, Gov. (Fast Eddie) Rendell wants to toll I-80 and basically send all of that revenue to Philidelphia and Pittsburgh. That's a pretty piss-poor way of selling mass-transit to the people when the bottom line is that it's just another tax subsidy for urban areas.

Get some good, worthwhile rural rail systems in place, and then we'll talk. Right now it's a non-starter.

There are many more advantages to trains as well (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491329)

A key advantage is that trains travel from city center to city center. That means you get off work at 5:30pm, walk a couple blocks to the station, and you're off to your weekend getaway in Marin or Montreal. There's no searching for a taxi or airport shuttle or sitting in miles of stand-still traffic with all the other folks trying to get away for the weekend. That's a lot of time, expense, and aggravation saved.

Then there's the passenger experience. You could be cramped in an airline seat like veal, or you could have a seat that's the equivalent of business class or even a private compartment if you roll that way. You could be trapped in a car seat in said bumper-to-bumper traffic with your legs slowly going numb, or be able to get up and stretch your legs on a walk to the observation or dining car.

As a bonus for those who need fear as a motivator, a train can't be hijacked and crashed into the twin towers. If the train is maglev, then it's even safer because if any shenanigans did occur aboard then authorities could just switch off power to the track; the train will sit there until help arrives.

Anyone who's ever ridden on the TGV in France or the Shinkansen in Japan can testify to this. High-speed rail is awesome, and the United States would do well to implement it.

Re:There are many more advantages to trains as wel (1)

CommandNotFound (571326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491573)

I don't think rail will be able to compete with air travel and Interstate roads for city-to-city routes in the US. To survive, they would need heavy gov't subsidies, as Amtrak does today. I do believe that light rail commuter systems can run close to the break-even point even in smaller (1-2 million) metro areas. The common wisdom is that urban sprawl prohibits mass transit in the US, but in all the sprawled cities I'm familiar with, the "sprawl" is pretty congested along several spoke roads radiating from the center of the city. So one could run the rail system along the main spoke, and have regular shuttle service at main interchanges to get people to/from offices and neighborhoods.

Rail travel is nice, as you say, and it is a shame that Amtrak does not market itself well. We use it periodically, but the station is dark, dingy, and in a questionable part of town. Many of our friends didn't even know you could take the train for travel: "where do you get on?". If Amtrak were to move its routes slightly or offer shuttle pickup in the newer areas of town, they would probably have a lot more traffic.

Re:There are many more advantages to trains as wel (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491745)

Maglev and High speed rail is better city to city travel. Monorail, subways, el and lower speed rail is better for inter city and small city to city runs.

Re:There are many more advantages to trains as wel (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491753)

Passenger rail transport in the US does not need MagLev it just needs fast conventional trains and more of them ... ... The fastest train in use in the US goes at a maximum of 150 mph? (Acela Express between Boston and Washington) the international definition of "High Speed Rail" is 155 mph, so this does not even qualify?

France meanwhile has 1166 miles of High speed track that run at 200+ mph

The Japanese use conventional high speed trains where they can but want to use MagLev because it is fast AND quiet, they want to run high speed trains into the centre of large, densely populated cities and conventional trains are too noisy to run at high speed through densely populated areas.

dont work in America (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491515)

Where you need them, you have too much population and land is too pricey, to build 200 mph trains. Where you have the room and cheap land, there's no people to move.
Even if there was a maglev from NY to LA, it would still take a day to get there at full speed - for probably no less than a flight. Once everyone started taking the maglev, the Gubmint would have all sorts of onerous ID checks like airplanes, so you'd save no time there either.

Amtrak and NJ transit (5, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491587)

can't seem to make money on the current economies of rail travel. Even at the lowest estimates ($5 million a track mile) I doubt either of these rail systems could make this technology profitable.

Public transportation all over the world requires government funding. Here in the US we seem to think that private companies and capitalism are the answer for everything. Unfortunately for us, this system usually enriches a select few people, provides goods and services that are mediocre at best, and cost quite a bit of money for the users of those goods and services.

The Northeast is particularly bad. Years ago, my wife was commuting to North Jersey - for the cost of her monthly train pass, (nj transit and path) and her monthly parking pass - she could have bought a nice BMW. (Instead she drove a VW Jetta to the train station).

If these companies can't make the current economics work with that kind of revenue, maglev has no hope of ever becoming a reality.

-ted

Re:Amtrak and NJ transit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21491799)

Public transportation all over the world requires government funding. Here in the US we seem to think that private companies and capitalism are the answer for everything. Unfortunately for us, this system usually enriches a select few people, provides goods and services that are mediocre at best, and cost quite a bit of money for the users of those goods and services.

The Northeast is particularly bad. Years ago, my wife was commuting to North Jersey - for the cost of her monthly train pass, (nj transit and path) and her monthly parking pass - she could have bought a nice BMW. (Instead she drove a VW Jetta to the train station).


Brilliant. You've just used an expensive and poorly run government owned railway system (NJ Transit) to explain why privatization of public transportation doesn't work.

Maglev?? (1)

drewsup (990717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491597)

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-car
Monorail!
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically

Does any of this sound familiar??

Popular Mechanics, huh? (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491653)

I still remember the article in 1961 on flying cars.....

The RUF makes more sense (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491671)

The RUF makes more sense. http://www.ruf.dk/ [www.ruf.dk] Cheaper by an order of magnitude per mile and you can drive on and off it. The lesson of the internet is that the first and last mile matter.

How are MagLevs economical? (1)

j33pn (1049772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491675)

What I don't understand about Mag-Lev's, is how they don't consume an inordinate amount of power - which isn't to say that they don't, I just don't see how they can't. If they worked with natural magnets on the train, and natural magnets on the track, I could see them being efficient, but everything I've seen shows the trains using electromagnets. Unlike a wheeled train which uses no energy to sit above the track, you'll need gobs of continuous power just to float the train, and you haven't even left the station yet. Am I wrong?

Just give us High Speed Trains!!! (1)

furry_wookie (8361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491679)

For god sake, screw the pie in the sky stuff... just build some high speed rails between all the major cities like Chicago, Atlanta, KC, St Louis, Cleveland, etc..

Use the Interstate medians for all I care, just do it.

Flying sucks so much now, people will use it.

And when the oil runs out we can run the trains on cheap nuclear electricity and they will provide fast transportation that will be 1000x cheaper than flying using fossil fuels.

Why not normal track? (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21491771)

The French have proved conventional contact-rail trains are more than capable of matching current Maglev trains....

World records:
TGV: 574.8 Kph
JR Maglev MLX01: 581 Kph

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6521295.stm [bbc.co.uk]

That's a whole 6-7 kph difference between the technology now and of the future.
That and a huge magnet.
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