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China unveils 600 kph maglev train

4 days ago

Created a post 228 points @awiesenhofer • 1 comments

China unveils 600 kph maglev train

@bfung 4 days

Replying to @awiesenhofer 🎙

This article sounds like pure fluff - the new train is “unveiled”, but has it taken anyone from one side of Qingdao to the other yet? Will it really go as fast as it claims in production environment?

I’m sure everyone’s code is bug free and high performing before being deployed in production as well ;)

http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

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@guenthert 4 days

"While there are no inter-city or inter-province maglev lines yet in China that could make good use of the higher speeds, some cities including Shanghai and Chengdu have started to conduct research."

So, what exactly has been unveiled? The vehicle itself? Yet another test ground (there has been such in Germany since the eighties)? It might be news-worthy that the new train can reach 600km/h, instead of the 450km/h earlier trains could, but ... just barely.

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@Brendinooo 4 days

Neat to see, wonder how realistic it is or if it's something that we should be skeptical of until it actually gets built.

> By comparison, the journey would take 3 hours by plane

Are they factoring in the security line? That flight should be two hours tops.

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@adrianN 4 days

I wonder what the CO2/(passenger*km) looks like for trains at those speeds, especially if you add in some amortized cost for all the infrastructure the train needs

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@ChemSpider 4 days

Great, I love the Chinese train network. But unfortunately, as of today, it is mainly coal-powered. And they are still building more and more coal-fired power plants:

https://e360.yale.edu/features/despite-pledges-to-cut-emissi...

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@dpix 4 days

I wonder how fault tolerant maglev systems are. The tracks must have to be incredible straight and precise to have a train hovering over it at 600km/hr over those kinds of distances.

With traditional rail it's relatively simple to fix up parts of a track or have areas where trains need to slow down to accommodate tricky sections of track. Must be a lot more difficult to repair a maglev track section?

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@JoeAltmaier 4 days

Where does it go? Is it real? Or a demo?

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@throwaway4good 4 days

From another source, on the economics of Maglev trains:

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202107/1229097.shtml

China's speediest 600 km/h maglev rolls off assembly line in Qingdao city

...

But Zhao Jian, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University, said that it is unlikely to export China's maglev train and relevant technologies in the near future, as other countries lack the scale to make the maglev lines profitable.

"The maglev lines can earn money only when a network of high-speed transportation is formed, with huge passenger flows," Zhao told the Global Times on Tuesday.

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@jinto36 4 days

Obligatory Japan Rail Maglev mention, the present plan for the Chuo shinkansen (bullet train) maglev is for 500 km/h in passenger service, though it's already been tested at speeds over 600 km/h. This train will eventually connect Tokyo to Osaka with service taking a little more than an hour, compared to the present 2.5 hours on the fastest traditional shinkansen service.

The original goal was to have the maglev in service by 2027, but they're presently negotiating routing through an area in shizuoka that would need to go under a river that seems to be causing some contention.

I don't doubt that China can get their project built faster due to differences in how such projects are executed there. The maglev project in Japan has been in planning for decades, and under construction for about a decade.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%A%C5%8D_Shinkansen

Japan does have a commercial maglev service already, having built one for Expo 2005 in Nagoya. I've been on it, it's kind of neat, but it's quite slow and doesn't have the grand air of futurism a super-fast maglev does. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linimo

Here's hoping for some progress in room temp superconductors, so that these projects are more feasible!

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@EarthIsHome 4 days

Incredible.

I would love to have a good high-speed intercity train network in the United States connecting the major cities in each State.

I just looked up an Amtrak from Atlanta to Dallas: 3 legs around 64 hours. Cries in American. (there's no connection in New Orleans, so the trip planner routes to Chicago)

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@mytailorisrich 4 days

One reason China invests heavily in trains is that they provide large capacity.

China needs to transport literally hundreds of millions of people over a week once or twice a year (National holiday and Chinese New year) on top on regular transport between megalopolis.

"All CRH trains are formed of eight or 16 cars with capacity ranging from 494 to 1299 seats. The busiest routes can be served by up to 101 services per direction per day, with up to eight trains per hour at peak times. Traffic density on such routes is estimated at about 30-40 million passengers" [1]

[1] https://www.railjournal.com/in_depth/chinese-high-speed-an-e...

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@russli1993 4 days

I think this is going to take a long time to be actually be deployed for public use. China's top transportation plans is signaling its taking a more conservative approach to hard infrastructure development in the next 10 years. It is balancing debt and cost. It calls for more local transportation between cities and their satellite cities/towns. These are slower and cheaper to build. It calls for more stringent review of 350km/h HSR lines. In the past, local governments have been rampant in building 350km/h HSR lines, even if the projected ridership is low. These lines cost a lot more to build and operate than lower speed HSR or regular lines, and cannot be used for freight. China currently lacks freight train capacity, and freight is more profitable and its revenue outlook continues to grow. The planning document calls for more commuter and freight duo use lines for middle and western part of the country.

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@ghufran_syed 4 days

“capable of reaching 600 kph”

So I take that to mean it has never actually done it, but it “could”? Before getting excited about this, maybe we should wait until the system, including the track, is actually built? Or at least a test track with curves etc.

I am not shocked this came from chinese state media originally, it comes across as a press release.

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@Darmody 4 days

By the way. If you like high speed trains, you should check Swisspod[1].

They are developing a viable hyperloop. I know that word might sound like space travel to some of you because we've been hearing it over and over in the last years but it's far from that.

It's also relatively cheap, eco friendly (batteries or hydrogen, you choose) and it has some nice tech behind.

[1]https://swisspod.ch/

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@thehappypm 4 days

I don't think HSR is the future, personally. It's too centralized and inflexible, compared to flying. Any metro can plop an airport down and get some cheap routes out, and as planes get cheaper and maybe electrify, you can scale up and down routes and capacity by deploying more planes. Even laying a single HSR line is a multi billion dollar endeavor, and still doesn't solve the vast majority of actual routes. Just look at the airport departure board at any airport -- even small ones -- direct to a dozen cities hundreds or even thousands of miles away. That's never going to be achievable with rail without laying down tens of thousands of miles of rail.

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@Clewza313 4 days

Props to China, but for time being Japan both holds the maglev speed record (603 kph) and is actually building the world's first long-distance maglev between Tokyo and Nagoya:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%AB%C5%8D_Shinkansen

A shame it's a largely useless and incredibly expensive prestige prospect that's not even projected to become profitable until 2070, but that's another story.

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@Haemm0r 4 days

I am quite sceptical about the whole thing. The train is finished and the track is not. The track seems to be hard part of the system. Chinese managed to copy the German maglev trains, however they seem to have problems with the track technology.

Ever since the Shanghai maglev was built, every two to four years Chinese maglev projects hit the media big.

Changsha maglev is all that they could get to work so far.

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@fatjokes 4 days

Investing in large infrastructure projects is a political deadend in American democracy with term limits. A politician needs to expend their political and financial capital on a project that won't complete until well after their term is done, at which point the fickle electorate will associate the success with whoever is in power at the time.

I'm just bitter about the tunnels into NY Penn Station.

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@some_random 4 days

Always interesting to see ultra-authoritarian apologists come out of the woodwork whenever the discussion of trains comes up.

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@tw04 4 days


@psadri 4 days

I wonder what’s the optimal max speed considering the increasing cost of building it vs the utility of time saved. It seems higher speeds have higher utility for longer distances as the travel time dominates over boarding/disembarkation times.

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@hintymad 4 days

It's so refreshing to see 600 kph instead of those crappy mph. I'd rather the US replace imperial metrics with the metric system before seeing a high-speed rail. I mean, how many people suffered in their STEM class for not having intuition on metric units?

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@mensetmanusman 4 days

I wonder how high your social credit score has to be to get tickets for this.

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@jl6 4 days

Just remember it’s much easier to pull off megaprojects like this when you can evict anyone whose home or business lies in its path.

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@fleshfly 3 days

In China any flights that take around an hour (around 700km of land distance) would probably be better traveled via HSR. Flights that around 2-3 hours long usually make more sense compare to HSR, although I know people who would prefer train as long as it is anywhere under 6 hours.

- Even the busiest security lines in a typical HSR station say during holidays would take 10 minutes tops. Regular weekday or weekend the security lines take about 2 minutes. They don't scan you very thoroughly, liquids are allowed, don't ask you to take off shoes belts or scan laptops, lithium batteries etc. They're usually just checking for weapons and explosives.

- HSR gates typically close 4 minutes before departure and the gates open about 12 minutes before departure. If you factor into security you rarely need to arrive more than 20 minutes before your actual time of departure. For flights, most people do well to arrive at least 40 minutes before departure otherwise you would be cutting it close.

- In the case you miss a particular train usually you can wait 30-60 minutes for the next one. If you're desperate there is standing room.

- I have almost never encountered a delayed train but flight departure delays happen nearly 30% of the time, factoring into things like weather. And when you are delayed it can be for hours.

- You can order takeout between stations and it is delivered to your seat.

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@blackcat201 4 days

For reference, Boeing 747 average speed is 909 km/h (565 mph) with a top speed 986 km/h (613 mph). However maglev train saves time on landing and coordination makes it faster compare to air travel.

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@egeozcan 4 days

According to the article, Germany is also looking to build one... Just assign the task to the Deutsche Bahn, what could possibly go wrong!

Before corona times, there used to be stations closing because too many people are called in sick or at vacation. Trains stopping in the middle of nowhere and conductor announcing, "eerm, yeah, we are having technical difficulties" and you just sit there for at least an hour without any updates. Not sure how it is now but...

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@_carbyau_ 3 days

Seems a bit of a premature announcement. Train is supposedly capable of it. No tracks it can do it on though. Both are required for this to work.

600kph is awful quick and with that much mass behind it I hope the engineering is super well sorted out.

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