China Introduces Maglev “Sky Train” That Hangs From Its Rail
China is bringing rail transport to the next level with the first ever suspended maglev train. The test track and train, dubbed the Red Rail, were revealed recently in Xinggua county, in the province of Jiangxi.
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Conventional maglev trains use electricity to create the magnetic forces that “levitate” the train and propel it forward. What makes the Red Rail even more unique is that it uses permanent magnets that keeps the train constantly afloat and using very little electricity to operate. The frictionless condition lets the cars glide quietly at 50 mph.
The Red Rail is much cheaper to construct, about a tenth of what it would cost to build a subway, and it generates far less radiation than conventional maglev lines.
The downside, though, is that these permanent magnets are made from alloys rich in rare earth elements. China is the largest supplier of these metals so they should have no problem sourcing these materials and build more of this energy-efficient train, but it’s bad news for the environment, though that’s for another story.
The half-mile test track is suspended 33 feet up in the air supported by a steel structure. The current test setup of two cars has a capacity of 88 passengers, an auspicious number in Chinese culture and is not a coincidence, we’re sure.
The next phase of the sky train will be on an extended track that spans 4.7 miles that will allow the cars to reach speeds of up to 75mph.