Maglev trains could be an answer to our climate crisis. The urgency for climate change is once again a top priority for all the governments that met in Madrid at the COP 25. It is clear that meetings and demonstrations won’t be enough to find the right approach, and that most solutions lie today in industrial innovations.

As a platform for dialogue on what constitutes public value, Your Public Value welcomes inputs from young sustainability experts. Victoire de Marans, who has been focusing on what drives young people to the streets and how one can address the urgency of climate change, contributed this blog on a new generations of trains pioneered in China:

When China pioneers the future of transportation

Plane travels grew expensively in the past decades due to globalisation. Yet the air pollution, noise and high energy consumption linked to this growth is not to demonstrate. With the multiplication of national and international travels for both business and recreation purposes and the rise of climate contestation, finding innovative means of transportation matching the modern needs of the population appears to be the next challenge for science. Yet one possible answer to these new demands could be on its way at a speed of 600 km/hour.

Magnetic levitation (“maglev”) trains use magnetic repulsion to levitate and propel themselves faster than common types of trains currently in circulation. Its sleek design facilitates a swifter cruising speed through the reduction of air frictions. The floating bullet outline reduces noise and vibrations, leading to a more pleasant travel experience. In addition, maglev trains are powered with electricity and the absence of contact between vehicles and rails improves the energy efficiency of maglev technology.

These advantages match the current growing preoccupation for greener travels. For these reasons, maglev appears to be the future of business and recreational travel: its speed radically decreases transportation time between cities and offers an interesting alternative to plane travels. A classic journey by plane from Beijing to Shanghai, for example, takes approximatively four and a half hours when preparation time is taken into consideration. With maglev trains, the same journey would take only three hours and a half. Such a development in nationwide transportation could open up landlocked regions and make business trips less astringent. Indeed, the Asian Times notes that maglev trains would meet an increasing demand for such means of transportations by business travellers.

Maglev trains popular in China

The current models of maglev trains in circulation in China today enjoy a rising popularity among the population, with a speed of 350 km/h these devices are already allowing Chinese users to travel effortless from a city to another. Yet the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) already sees further with the development of new models of maglev trains reaching a speed of 600 km/h.

The testing phases of these new trains necessitate special experimental centres currently under construction. The CRRC already announced the commercial production of these new models for 2021 and the future of maglev trains is expected to be put in operation for the second half of the year. However, if China is clearly taking the lead in this field, other countries also see the potential of maglev trains: Japan (HSST) and South Korea (Rotem EMS) currently use this technology and are looking for a development of their devices.

The West is also demonstrating a growing interest for maglev trains. The USA and Germany, for example, are currently developing their own models and technology transfers were already operated between China and Germany. The concurrence is now open worldwide for the future of train travels at national and international scale. Innovation in transport infrastructure have an important impact on our landscapes geographically, socially and environmentally. It is sure that maglev trains technology will have a great positive impact in these different domains in a near future by offering a valuable cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to plane travels.

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