China makes functional scale model of low pressure tube maglev system that if fully developed would enable 1800 mile per hour supertrains

In 2010, Nextbigfuture reported that Southwest Jiaotong University in China was developing a low pressure underground tubes and maglev train which will travel at 1,000 kilometers per hour (600 mph). This is double the speed of current maglev trains. According to Shen Zhiyun, academic member of CAS and CAE, China should target the development of high-speed ground transportation with 600 to 1,000 kilometers per hour which should be in operation between 2020 and 2030. The $1.5 to 2.95 million per kilometer incremental cost is about 7-20% of the $17-40 million per kilometer of regular maglev lines in China, which is pretty cheap to get over double the speed.

In March 2013 they completed the first high-temperature superconducting maglev ring test, which was similar to the one you can see here but without the enclosed tube.

The Shanghai downtown to airport maglev can reach 268 miles (431 kilometres) per hour. Super-maglev, however, could allow for even higher speeds. This is because, by using a vacuum tube, they decrease the speed limitations imposed by air resistance on regular maglev trains.

In a paper on the subject, Dr Zigang says: ‘If the running speed exceeds 400 kilometres (250 miles) per hour, more than 83 per cent of traction energy will wastefully dissipate in air resistance.’ And, he adds, ‘Aerodynamic noise will break through 90 decibels (the environmental standard is 75 decibels).’

The only way to break this barrier is to reduce the air pressure in the running environment, which he has done in his tube by lowering it to 10 times less than normal atmospheric pressure at sea level.

‘The vehicle was designed to accelerate to a maximum speed of 50 kilometres (30 miles) per hour without passengers.

‘This speed is limited by the small radius of the ring guideway, which is only six metres (20 feet).’

‘The meaning of the project is that it will be the first one to realize the prototype of the future evacuation tube transportation (ETT).

‘At this moment, we are conducting evacuation tests on the new system. We will release our achievements after the successful running in the near future.’

Shanghai Regular Maglev Costs

The Shanghai-Hangzhou 199.4 km-long maglev line is said to cost an estimated 22 billion RMB ($3.22 billion) – a surprising 13 billion RMB less than what a shorter line was proposed to cost in 2006. China is trying to keep costs to 110 million yuan per kilometers ( 16.5 million/km). The current top speed of China’s maglev are about 430 kph.

The Shanghai maglev cost 9.93 billion yuan to build. [ US $1.2 billion for 30-kilometers or about $40 million per kilometer] This total includes infrastructure capital costs such as manufacturing and construction facilities, and operational training. At 50 yuan per passenger and the current 7,000 passengers per day, income from the system is incapable of recouping the capital costs (including interest on financing) over the expected lifetime of the system, even ignoring operating costs This changes if capacity utilization increases from the current 20%.

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