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China unveils 600 kph maglev train prototype (globaltimes.cn)
124 points by mparramon 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments

The article mentions "designed top speed of 600 km per hour". But then a bit further it mentions "Now the prototype has achieved static levitation and is in good condition" (emphasis mine). That leaves me wondering what was the actual speed reached during testing and what will be the actual operational speed.

Don't get me wrong, I still find this project impressive.

But there's a fair amount of boasting going on as well. For example the French TGV boasted a measured record of 574 km/h. But that's on a (modified) test unit and a test track. Operational speed is about 320 km/h on most tracks.

Perhaps they simply haven't gotten to the testing/benchmark phase yet.

The Beijing–Shanghai HSR train averages 300 km/h over an almost 5-hour ride, two years ago they upgraded it to peak at 350 km/h.

The Beijing-Shanghai line was designed to operate at 350km/h with the plan to upgrade to 380km/h, it was downgraded to 300km/h after the 2011 Wenzhou accident in which 40 people killed.

In WA we recently had a deadly accident at under 100kph...

On the first run...

The French record was with a modified test unit but on a regular track (LGV Est), albeit with upgraded voltage.

They also adjust the tension of the catenary wires for the test runs so that the train does not catch up with the wave it induces. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV_world_speed_record#Catenar...

This is fairly normal for all kinds of high speed trains. Or vehicles in general. Or technology in general. Most things are not operated at the edges of their performance envelope.

But when you see how engineering works, isn’t it reassuring to ride something designed for a maximum of 600 at a speed of 320?

My car could probably hit 160+ but I don’t drive it over 130.

The cabin is interesting. There doesn't seem to be much visibility through the windows. I guess at such speeds the driver can only rely on information feeds from far up ahead, and there's little advantage to being able to see with the naked eye. Large windows would probably make it less safe in the event of flying debris too.

It makes me wonder why not get rid of them all together and make the cabin like a tank. To get some sunlight perhaps?

Don't forget the physiological aspect on the driver too, Just having the windows, useful or not, would contribute to better wellbeing as opposed to a windowless box. After all, the drivers cab is a workplace.

That's a good point, wonder if they can even open the side windows to look out?

I think the windows on trains generally serve to give situational awareness at the station, once you are up to speed reacting to unexpected impediments isn't so time critical since the train isn't likely to stop fast enough anyway.

Reacting to things is still important and time critical. You just can't react to anything in sight. Instead the things you can react to are data and camera feeds from far up ahead. What are the other trains doing? Did the next junction switch successfully?

I think that raises a question of: what is the point of having a driver on the train? Why not have people in a control room drive the trains, coordinating the system as a whole? Arguably this is already the case, with some trains automatically stopping in cases of signal violation. Maybe the reason is simply that passengers would rather trust a driver whose life is invested along with theirs.

> What are the other trains doing? Did the next junction switch successfully?

These are not things the train driver would react to. There will be a signal protecting the switch, which won't be "green" until the change is successful. If the driver tries to pass a red signal (or exceed the speed limit), the emergency brake is applied automatically.

The driver needs to react to unexpected events -- which might mean applying the emergency brake on their own train and maybe pressing the emergency button to stop all trains in the area. Possibilities:

- their own train has a serious mechanical failure

- something falls of their train, like a container or (somehow) a passenger

- the track has a serious failure (flooding, damaged rail, nearby fire)

- foreign objects are on the track (cars, trees, people)

Other trains will react automatically as necessary. The driver is then there to deal with the situation, which might include proceeding at slow speed, reversing, or waiting for assistance while keeping passengers informed.

> some trains automatically stopping in cases of signal violation.

On high-speed trains like this, all of these safety systems you've heard about are standard, and most of them are considered critical for normal operation.

> what is the point of having a driver on the train?

A better question is why does the driver actually drive the train? (Why do they control the speed?) I think that's to help maintain situational awareness in case there is a problem they can react to.

I don't think any of these things are reasons to have the driver on the train. The train drivers could be located at a remote location and still be aware of these things. Loss of connectivity already means it's unsafe for the train to continue and must stop, as it cannot be aware of signals or hazards ahead.

As far as foreign objects or track failures go, these are not promptly apparent from the cabin anyway. CCTV on the track and crossings ahead is better placed for early warning.

Additionally, remote control of trains could potentially be more safe, as it would be easier for a new driver to take over in the event of e.g. the driver having a heart attack or stroke.

I think the only remaining reason is the physical accountability of being on the train.

> CCTV on the track and crossings ahead is better placed for early warning.

That's a lot of CCTV to replace one human.

CCTVs are cheap and have other benefits for being there.

The point is mainly to have someone trained there when something goes wrong, like a signal switch breaking down or you hitting something on the tracks. Since they have to be there anyway they might as well monitor the train.

Remote control systems can and will fail.

I don't know what's considered a safe speed for moving a train without working safety systems on a European high-speed railway, but it's almost certainly so slow (20-40km/h) that the system is designed such that failure of the control system is extremely rare. Should it fail, the priority will be to restore it, rather than move trains around very slowly.

On-train systems will stop the train in case of failure.

I was responding to “Why not have people in a control room drive the trains, coordinating the system as a whole”. Infrastructure and timetables are centrally coordinated (or actoss several centers). Controlling a train remotely introduces multiple points of failure:

- connection lag

- connection quality

- remote operators don’t have the full details on a train (unless you have one operator per train)

Remote/automatic control works in smaller systems (such as subways, see e.g. Copenhagen), but the speeds there are usually smaller, the “fleet” is smaller, you can reach the trains in case of failure faster etc.

I don't see why this is an issue. If it fails, the train should stop. The train should be designed such that it only continues on its way if a continuous "okay to proceed" signal is received, gated on automatic safety systems and deliberate human action. Even if you have a driver, the train should still stop if it cannot communicate, because the driver can't determine whether the track ahead is safe.

Railroads were developed in a time when “continuous communication” wasn’t even a fiction, much less reality.

I don’t know what continuous monitoring/communication brings other than numerous new failure modes.

> wonder if they can even open the side windows to look out

Almost certainly not. Open windows are terrible for aerodynamics. Even in normal cars they can cause a noticable reduction in fuel efficiency. I'd imagine the effect would be much worse at these speeds.

I imagine aerodynamics isn't very important when you are shunting the train about on the switch yard...

It's not always going to be running at top speed.

I really wish we had high speed rail in Australia. I'd pick a 600km/h train over a plane any day.

High speed train works well in France (and it's just 300km/h) because the country is small. Australia is huge. And so is the US.

This would make sense along coasts though but you wouldn't be able to cross the country from sea to sea in a few hours of course.

What's good with trains is that you can hop in at the very last moment (when the bell rings, happened to me a couple times) and the train stops in the center of cities, instead of the suburbs. This is the main reason why high speed train in France can compete with airplanes when crossing the country. By plane I must first reach the airport (30 mins), have some time ahead before embarking (30 mins), the flight is 1 hour long but the time to actually take off and pick back your luggages it's almost 2 hours long, and then you have to reach the center of your destination city (30 mins). By my generous estimates, it takes 3h30 to travel by plane North/South in France vs 4 hours by train.

And because currently not every railroad segment can support high speed trains going at full velocity (but work is in progress) it could take 3 hours. 300 km/h

Also note that Amdahl's law [1] applies in this context (there are diminishing returns in optimizing the speed of only one segment of the full path) and travelling the last kilometers accounts for a significant portion of the travel time.

For instance the TGV has to slow down when entering cities (because of the noise) and at some point in the development of the high speed rail network, it might become more interesting to dig long tunnels under cities for these trains rather than increasing the train's maximum speed.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amdahl%27s_law

Australia is huge, but everyone lives in 7 cities (within a margin of error). A high speed rail that covered Melbourne/Albury/Canberra/Sydney/Newcastle/Tamworth?/Brisbane would have a huge impact.

The distances are (as the crow flies): Melbourne-Albury: 260km Albury-Canberra: 219km Canberra-Sydney: 247km Sydney-Newcastle: 117km Newcastle-Tamworth: 219km Tamworth-Brisbane: 450km

That last leg might need another break in it.

But at 300kph average speed that's 2.5 hours Melbourne - Sydney (CBD-CBD), say 3.5 hours with stopovers.

To get to Sydney for a 9:00 start in the CBD from Melbourne now takes (CBD - CBD): Taxi: 30m + 1hr check in + 1.5 hour flight + 30m taxi: 3.5 hours.

I'd take the train any day. Space, able to work, sleep, dining car etc. Not affected by weather or other airport backlogs. You still get up at a god-awful time of the morning, but the actual travel would be much more tolerable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Australia_by...: it’s actually under 70% of the population in the top 7 cities in that list, with the two giants being Sydney and Melbourne with 20% each. 30% is a fairly large rounding error! :-)

I agree with your judgement in general, nonetheless.

That 30% rounding error are people who don't have any interest in travelling to major cities.

Giving mobility to those people would unlock new use cases of its own, but the GP post is actually accurate to commercial reality.

Perth doesn't count as a major city? (% of that 30% live within its metro area. This isn't to say the 7-city grid is a bad idea, but your statement is inaccurate.

Perth (and Darwin) are essentally islands of their own.

Perth-Adelaide (nearest major metro) is 2,131km air mles, over the Great Austrailian Bight (ocean). Land route is 2,695 km (1,675 mi).

Darwin-Brisbane is even further: 2,848 km by air, 3,425 km by ground (2,128 mi).

By 300 kph HSR, those are 7+ hour trips, vs about 3 by air. And those are nearest-nighbour trips.

There is effectively no population between either location -- unless somehow induced (a possibility), a high-speed rail service would have tpo rely on endpoint-traffic only. Climate, economy, and ag productivity (low) make development unlikely.



By contrast, the southeastern zone of Adelaide-Melbourne-Canberra-Sydny-Brisbane, is compact with five major metros over 1,601 km (air), though the ground route is still 2,005 km (1,246 mi).


And still, the only HSR corridor that's been seriously considered is SydneyMelbourne. Quite validly.

Australia is almost wholly empty space.



Perth: 2m

Adelaide: 1.7m

Melbourne: 5m

Canberra: 0.4m

Sydney: 5.2m

Brisbane: 3.6m (metro area)

Darwin: 0.1m

Perth is number 4 on the above list..?

One more: later, trains will be faster. In the 20 years that I've been in Madrid time to my hometown has come down from 5.5 to little more than 4 hours.

Edit: last hour is not high speed because the rails are regular ones (the train adapts in a ten minutes stop) so the high speed interval went from 4.5 down to 3.

Last time when I checked, the 11km South West Rail Link in Sydney took 6 years to complete. 12 years after Kevin Rudd promised to build NBN for everyone, after billions of tax $ already spent, my places in inner west Sydney and inner south east Melbourne are still not connected to NBN.

If anyone asks me how long will it take to build the Melbourne to Sydney high speed rail, my honest answer would be 30-50 years.

> it might become more interesting to dig long tunnels under cities for these trains rather than increasing the train's maximum speed.

That’s actually part of what the Stuttgart 21 project is doing, and why it’s so expensive (it’s not just a train station): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuttgart_21

They’re building several massive tunnels below the city and through the surrounding mountains to put the entire station and all rails underground, which also improves travel times on the Paris—Vienna magistrale.

Being one of the first major projects of that kind in Germany, it has to deal with massive budget overruns and delays.

Berlins main station as well, there are 4 tracks underground.

High-speed rail also works well in China.

It’s the same size as the United States, which is about the size of Australia. There are only 25 million people in Australia though.

China's population is concentrated in one part of the country. That makes it easier to serve them more efficiently with mass transit. This isn't true for the United States. The population resides on the coasts, which you can serve with high-speed rail, but connecting the two coasts with the inland population centers via rail is a much, much bigger project.

Yes, this excuse has been given for the past 50 years. Usually, in reference to Europe.

That might explain why they’re building 25,000 miles of high-speed rail in China, but it doesn’t address why the US has zero.

You’re being sort of vague with the numbers of course.

If you actually look at population densities in Spain, for example, and compare them to California or New York, what do you think we’d find?

For some reason, people like yourself want to average Montana, North Dakota, California, and New York. The US does not have a uniform population density.

People also want the federal government to fund the construction of this infrastructure, which is a very hard sell (and possibly unconstitutional) if you don't average all of those states in some way. Most of the opposition to Amtrak and existing infrastructure projects like the Gateway Project is coming from those states, who don't see improving rail service in the Mid-Atlantic and New England as something they want their tax money spent on.

We need to fix that problem, and that means not simply writing them off as irrelevant because of their lack of population. Australia is likely facing the same problem.

The federal government funded the highway system.

There are 350 million Americans. Do you know who pays most of the taxes to the federal government? It’s not the people in the mid-West.


I tried a simple estimate on how much a HSR line would cost from Chicago to Denver. About $20-30 billion. It's a 1000 miles of flat nothing, so it's cheap per mile.

Chicago --> St Louis --> Kansas City --> Denver is about 1000 miles.

Building a railway from coast to coast has already been done in the 19th century. An HSR line is just a railway line built to higher standards:

- larger curve radiuses (spelling?). Not much of a factor when a line mostly crosses sparsely populated, flat areas.

- less steep inclines (but if a steam engine can climb an incline, so should every modern train)

- Switches that allow high speeds on the diverging branch. But again, if the population is sparse, you don't need many of them.

And when building a part of the line to HSR standards is too expensive, the HSR train just turns into a regular train while using it. The only part that's expensive even if the geography is great is electrification (having to carry fuel or batteries limits your speed).

Switzerland does not use HSR despite prioritizing rail. I couldn't find numbers, but AFAIK it's very densely populated if you exclude the uninhabitable parts of the alps. Germany is slightly less densely populated and does use HSR. France has less than half the density and its HSR is significantly faster than Germany's. It does not look like HSR requires a high population density. The opposite is the case: HSR works better when it can go long distances without stopping and re-accelerating.

And even if HSR does not make sense everywhere, that is not a reason not to use it where it does.

High speed lines can have steeper profiles than normal lines because the greater kinetic energy and loco power makes them less troubled by slopes. Eg this compares the profiles of the old Paris-Lyon route with LGV Sud-Est:


Even better. Though this particular example compares the difference between a general-purpose railway line designed for steam traction and a passenger line for electric ones.

> There are only 25 million people in Australia though.

There are a "couple" more million people in France, and there are many areas in the US and Europe which much higher population than Australia, and a fraction of its size.

Here in the UK we enjoy low speed trains every day. ;)

Just seeing this stuff in other countries really makes me sad about how my countries technological developments have been left to rot.

Every time I visit London, I'm puzzled by the seeming paradox.

That system was dug in the 1800s, when light-bulbs and bicycles were still in beta. Over 150 years later, a project like that is out of reach for nearly all western cities. It's like the "we can't go to the moon anymore." It just offends my/our intuition about progress.

The Victorians generally did not give a crap about "old" stuff and willfully and frequently built/rebuilt/demolished/dug-up/forced-out pretty much whatever they wanted or was in their way to get stuff done. They also had a large and cheap labor force with questionable safety protections.

These days we spend a lot of effort on "preserving" older things, you cant just railroad (pun intended!) your way through a suburb demolishing things to lay railway tracks more or less where you want, and obviously there is a lot more focus now on individual worker safety (for the better).

I guess they were able to build things during the "wild west" where rules, procedures, , respect for individual rights & safety, and laws had not yet caught up with industrialisation.

On the labour point.. it still doesn't make sense to me. Sure, they had very poor oh&s but they also used shovels to dig and baskets to remove fill. It just doesn't seem like the extra cost of safe work practices could possibly offset the productive bump from machinery.

The reason the British Empire flourished is because, well, the British Empire flourished.

The industrial revolution began in the UK, the engineering of the time was lead by the British.

So yes, London got the tube, it got sewerage, it got all wonders of public facility because it was a win-win. Proclaimed the glory of the Empire to keep others in check and provide the people with the spoils of Empire.

To be fair, robbing indigenous people at gun point is a very profitable endeavor and why Britain flourished.

Fact: There is no chance of Britian reaching its former greatness without this crucial criminal component.

Fact: that was made up

You may not know the economic history of Britain, if you disagree.

Peak of British economy was after it invaded/sabotaged/drugged/then robbed two of the richest civilizations at that point (accounting for 50% of world GDP) China & India.

The beginning of British decline started in the early 1900s with the end of the opium trade (which at its peak, in ~1895, accounted for 35% of Britain's GDP)

Do you think UK, China, India, US, Germany, etc... placed at the same starting point, would result in UK economic victory without foul play?

UK can't even beat California on many economic metrics after centuries of historical advantages, lol.

Not the issue. The made-up part was, that's the only way for Britain to move back up in the world. So many ways for that to happen - tech, information, space, diplomacy to name a few.

Hmm well its not soooooo bad - 185mph/300kmh for High Speed 1 (1), with High Speed 2 (2) under construction at the moment (in some parts of the coutnry anyway) and pegged at 250mph/400kph (2).

London-Edinburgh is old and goes at about 125mph/200kmh. London-Glasgow is slightly-less old (in terms of trains) and does 120mph/225kmh).

Suburban trains are slower of course, but they stop pretty frequently anyway.

tl;dr - its not terrible. Prices are high though so flying is often orders of magnitude cheaper, even in the "door to door" time is about the same or slightly less by train.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_1 2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_2

The UK has particularly frequent trains compared to its continental neighbours.

For example, there is a train every 20 minutes from London to Manchester (320km), but only one train per hour from Berlin to Hamburg¹.

This is part of the reason for the higher prices.

¹ There are slightly more, but they are slower such that it's not worth using them.

London to Edinburgh or Glasgow is about 4.5 hours which is probably about the same as on the plane, YMMV.

The problem in this country is that going into/out London is pretty well covered by trains, but going anywhere else, unless it happens to be in a London bound route, is a bit of lottery.

> For instance the TGV has to slow down when entering cities (because of the noise) and at some point in the development of the high speed rail network, it might become more interesting to dig long tunnels under cities for these trains rather than increasing the train's maximum speed.

It has to slow down anyway if it wants to stop.

You could lose a car on the back for departing passengers and pick one up on the front for embarking one’s. Only a bit of loss in kinetic energy needed (to slow down the last car and get the first car up to speed).

Interesting idea, but there are some issues:

- Many modern trains, including the TGV, are not designed to be separated during normal operation.

- If you add a car to the front, the train driver can't see anything. If you remove it, you remove their workplace. In a push-pull train, the same applies to the back.

A foldable cab like the IC3[1] has might be a solution, but it's far from aerodynamic.

- Uncoupling the last cab instead of stopping has been done in the past. But coupling one without stopping sounds very hard.

- Instead of one train, you now have three: The car being decoupled, the new one, and the rest. Generally, that means the station needs a higher capacity. Not sure if that's the case here though. Normally what limits a station's capacity is that you can't have two trains using the same track, but that doesn't really apply when you want to couple/uncouple them.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IC3

I laughed, good point.

> it might become more interesting to dig long tunnels under cities for these trains rather than increasing the train's maximum speed.

South Korea built >50 km tunnel out of Seoul for this reason. It opened in 2016.


> By plane I must first reach the airport (30 mins), have some time ahead before embarking (30 mins), the flight is 1 hour long but the time to actually take off and pick back your luggages it's almost 2 hours long, and then you have to reach the center of your destination city (30 mins). By my generous estimates, it takes 3h30 to travel by plane North/South in France vs 4 hours

And then there is the inevitable delays before the plane will be allowed to take off and if you're lucky the same before you're allowed to land.

And in NL, if you land on Schiphol if you're particularly unlucky they will land the plane on the 5th strip which is more accurately located in Haarlem and it takes about 15 minutes to taxi to the gate.

Note that, as I understand it, the security checks and queues for Chinese high-speed trains are comparable to those required at airports elsewhere if not worse.

For what it's worth I've traveled on them about 15 times over the last few years, mostly to or from Shanghai and while it's comparable I'd say it's still way easier than an airport. At a glance though it definitely looks very crowded though because there is only one very large departure lounge (at least in Shanghai). In the smaller cities though you don't have the same crowds and the whole process is very quick and easy.

Security involves putting your bags on a conveyor that goes through an x-ray machine but no one actually has their bags opened so it moves quickly. Boarding is much quicker because a train has a lot more doors than an airplane.

However the queues to get to the metro/subway/underground system can indeed be horrifically long.

Not really. It’s basically a metal detector conveyer belt out front with very little flow control, fast to get through and not much thought going into finding anything. Compared to airport security, it’s a breeze (but it might have changed since 2016?).

The biggest issue for HSR is straightened track, which should be possible in Australia as far as I can tell: not many mountains, kind of empty between cities.

This is also why’s hSR is so that impressive in China, they had none of those advantages sand had to keep blasting through mountains.

And Spain with the AVE and Talgos

I always wondered about this as well. It seems like a nobrainer especially in SE Australia. Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, up to Brisbaine. Although 600km/h would probably be unnecessarily fast and not economically viable on these routes, a normal 300+ HSR would surely provide huge benefits.

Sydney-Melbourne is indeed no brainer. It is one of the busiest air route in the world.

Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane, even. Between those three, there's over 2,000 flights a week. The land issues are also easier than in most places.

Ultimately though, these routes are pretty well serviced by flights. These trains are pretty amazing, but not cheaper or faster than flights.

In trains, most of the cost is the fixed cost of the track and it makes sense to get its utilization way up. So the question of cost vs flights is a very dynamic one.

Sounds like a good way for Australia to decrease its CO2 emissions would be to subsidize the track and try to get the air travelers to move over.

co2 is a legitimate reason, and may justify the investment.

Costs.. agreed in theory. But in practice, modern low cost airlines supported by efficient airports are very hard to beat on price. There are economies of scale here too. Very best case scenario, HSTs are similar in price and convenience and it's a matter of taste.

High-speed trains are starting to impact airline routes: https://www.travelstatsman.com/08082016/high-speed-rail-trai...

Surely this is good for everyone save airline operators. Less planes on busy routes, more options for those don't want to fly, etc.


That's because DB is really bad. Everyone in Europe knows how bad DB is. It has nothing to do with high speed trains.

Oh yeah, DB is indeed extremely bad. Not really related to high speed trains, but I was relying on assistance to switch trains in germany three times (I am blind), and in all cases, nobody showed up despite me registering a day in advance. In Austria, where I come from, I have been forgotten about exactly once in my whole life. Does tell you something about how well organized the germans apparently are.


Sorry, I shouldnt have implied this has anything to do with the culture in the country. However, it still baffles me that the system in a country which is generally thought of as being very correct would fail so consistently to provide a service they advertise as being functional and well.

I didn’t know that. But then again, I only moved to Berlin late last year and I came from the UK, which is much much worse.

I still cannot believe how bad British trains are. They seem to ignore that functioning train systems exist, and just do it their own (broken) way.

Yeah I'm trying to get Great Western Rail to honor a delay compensation claim. What an awful company.

I always hear my German colleagues complain about DB but having taken UK trains for a few years I can’t fault DB.

Complaining is just something Germans do though.

We have a saying: "Not complaining is enough praise."

Complaining is the german way to socialize.

One of my ex-gf's mother is German. She drives her totally crazy with the complaining. And the older she gets the more she has to complain about.

And that's horrible.


You can't just say DB is really bad without putting it in relation to their prices.

That would let them get away too easily.

I think the main problem with the so-called high speed trains in Germany is that they don't have their own rail network, unlike the Shinkansen in Japan or the Maglev trains in China.

The Deutschlandtakt project which is being planned right now actually would include many new rail connections purely for passenger rail, as e.g. the https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellfahrstrecke_K%C3%B6ln%E... already is.

How stable are maglev trains in a crash? At these sort of speeds can the train sustain an explosion on board?

But isn't that down to Deutsche Bahn having lots problems with funding, industrial action etc?

The problems with it are:

- It was split up. For example, the tracks and the rolling stock are owned by different companies. All these companies are owned by a holding and all use the DB brand, but they independently try to make a profit.

That makes sense to economists trying to let the market organize as much as possible, but not to railway employees trying to run a railway. For example: before, the Bundesbahn built its infrastructure, balancing cost vs needs. Now, the infrastructure company optimizes for its own profit and cuts corners, no matter how much the companies operating the trains have to spend to compensate.

- The government was planning to sell it on the stock market. In preparation, DB neglected its infrastructure to appear more profitable. Fortunately these plans were dropped, but the damage is done.

Another insane decision that still contributes to this neglect: Maintenance is funded by the DB. Construction is funded by the Ministry of Transportation[1]. So the DB neglects infrastructure until it has to be replaced.

- Probably the worst one: It competes with cars and trucks. The automobile industry is very powerful in Germany. Properly funding the DB would lower their profits so it doesn't happen.

[1] and Digital Infrastructure. Yes, our ministry of transportation is responsible for the information highway. I am not making this up.

Note that EU rules require Deutsche Bahn and every other European train network to be split up in this way, with all the problems it entails. Germany bent the rules quite a bit over the years to keep the operation of its railways as tightly integrated as it could, but it couldn't last. The European Commission is pretty unhappy about the fact they're even under the same holding company.

As a counterpoint, the Czech Republic has seen a massive improvement in both prices and quality with the forced split and competition with other train companies.

Correlation does not mean causation. It's also possible that splitting and competition improves one railway but would make another worse. Maybe a railway is just organized well enough that splitting is not an improvement. If the timetable gets designed by the director's nephew, something needs to change. But if multiple competing teams produce proposals and the best one gets chosen, you already have the benefits of competing companies without the disadvantages.

Or there may be cultural differences between the railway companies. Maybe one company is staffed by hard workers who are motivated by working at a state-owned railway rather than for some capitalist that isn't them and would be offended if you introduced competition hoping to get them to work harder. The other could be staffed by lazy bums who find working for the state distasteful and do need a kick in the arse.

Forcing a split could also cause other reforms that outweigh the damage the split causes.

You're right, the federal government is not to blame for that. Thanks for the reminder.

Apart from boarding experience in Airpot Terminal, I prefer flying on plane over train any day.

Why is it boarding a train is 10x easier than on a plane?

Because you usually don't go through the crazy security areas and luggage areas.

And there are many doors.

Naive, irrelevant question. Is kph the correct way to signal "kilometers per hour" in English?

I think I have seen this before in videogames maybe. Is it an US-only thing?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilometres_per_hour,

> Internationally, km/h is the most commonly used unit of speed on traffic signs and speedometers

kph isn't incorrect, but it's not as commonly used.

"kph" makes no sense - kilos per hour? Offical SI notation is km/h, and IMO that's what should be used.

...or kmph

Either "kph" or "kmph" is a casual, sloppy, but common way, along with abbreviations like "gms" (grams) or "mts" (metres). None of these are unusual in the UK.

The correct way is km/h, or (occasionally, for mathematicians or scientists) km·h⁻¹ or km h⁻¹.

I have never seen 'mts' used before, why would you, when 'm' is both more concise, and more correct?

I may have seen 'gms', but I can't think when.

I have seen kmph before, but not for several years.

'Kph' it's definitely current in spoken language, but increasingly rare in written form.

> I have never seen 'mts' used before, why would you, when 'm' is both more concise, and more correct?

I don't know, but it's particularly common with construction materials. You can search "mts" and see many sites using the abbreviation.

I don't get it. 'm' is already as short as it gets. Why invent your own short-hand?

I'd say it's the most common way that it's said in Australia.

I’d call it moderately rare in Victoria.

It's pretty common in the UK, not as common as mph mind.

That's a weird way to write kilometres per hour.

kilometers per hour.

Abbreviations using the first letter of each word are very, very common.

Pretty sure they know that and it was a joke about mph.

US uses mph for miles per hour, so it's natural to use kph.

I have seen kmph used a lot

I’ve ridden on the Changsha Maglev, China’s first indigenous maglev and I was thoroughly unimpressed. The ride was rough and quite slow, nothing like their High Speed Rail which is world leading. I’m surprised they’d be able to develop world leading technology so quickly. But then again for areas of strategic interest we’ve seen China make similar bounds before. Makes me wonder how their Made in China 2025 efforts in CPU design/production is fairing...

Most of their "world leading" High Speed Rail, as you call it, is actually using Siemens Velaro D/E rolling stock — the same train used in Europe as "ICE" or for some of the Eurostar lines :)

Siemens Velaro have gigantic issues in good old Germany. And China has indeed homegrown machines, such as the CRH380A or the CR400AF.

Further, there is also a lot of shit tier technology in Germany. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-Bahn

Siemens is actually still offering that system. If you ride it, you will wonder how it was possible to combine all disadvantages of all existing people mover rail technology and to produce that.

> Siemens Velaro have gigantic issues in good old Germany.

I have heard about a lot of issues with many kinds of rolling stock, but so far I haven’t heard anything negative about the DB Br 407. The Br 412/812? yeah, that one’s fucked, but so far I’ve heard few complaints about the Br 407 (and personally, the Br 407 is probably the smoothest ride there is)

Could you describe some of the issues you’ve had with the ICE 3 (MS)?

According to wikipedia, the C380 is stolen Shikansen technology.

How did it compare to BART? I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing anything else yet.

So i've been following this and feel unsatisfied with the "buzz" about it. Let me explain why:

The best Pictures can be seen here


whereby the third is the most interesting to me, because it allows comparing whith the existing pictures of the Transrapids "Track-Train-Interface" (for lack of a better term). It looks similar, but not exactly. Would it matter? Who really cares?

What i do care about is how "real" this thing is. Because for all we know this just a mockup on stilts. There is nothing wrong with mockups as such. Except for this mockup on stilts there is no footage to be found which shows this thing on a longer test track, or this thing on a test stand where at least it is levitating in the configuration like shown in the press. Any footage, if existing at all shows different systems. Furthermore neither




show any signs of testing track at the factory, or its surroundings.

So until further notice i consider this as a notion of intent to build, but far from ready. As i said, for all we know, the "production rollout" is that of the modelmaker without the real innards.

Btw.: Anybody remembering

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_Elevated_Bus ?


( first 12 seconds only ^v^ )

sigh in case someone mentions the dotted track to the SW


THAT looked interesting, especially with the stationlike structure at the end. But level crossings like can be seen on gmaps? Doesn't look like separate/different track at all.

Correct me, if i'm wrong.

i can't get no levitation


Mysteriously the end of the branch/spur about a mile to the SW is not visible there. Anyways, doesn't look different to what's visible in gmaps, looks all like conventional tracks.

"Roll off the production line" triggered me a number of times in the article. Perhaps "glide off" would be a better phrase?

Just 3 km/h less than Japan’s current prototype (but approaching production) system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L0_Series

Interesting that there are plans to run this between Washington DC and Baltimore and finish it in the same year Tokyo-Nagoya is finished. Probably won't happen, but still.

This news site is strange. Every article headline has a rather positive view of China.

Global Times is a party-run foreign affairs tabloid. So yes, it's pro-China bordering on nationalistic. Still, it's a useful source of what the CCP likes to say when they have a small sense of plausible deniability.

That's faster than your average turboprop plane, the Q400 can get up to ~660km/h but that's one of the fastests (commercially available today)

At these high velocities air resistance becomes a huge problem, making it impracticable. Wasn't this the main reason for putting very fast trains through evacuated tubes, my copy of the Usborne Book of the Future had this in seventies. Although Musk had a go at reviving it, the ideas Hyperloop has been based on have been around for ages.

There's rumours of a vehicle that has somehow overcome the problem of air resistance and is able to go faster even than this train: "The Aeroplane". Maybe you've heard of it?

Propeller-based airplanes are not that much faster than this train -- current propeller world record stands at 855 km/h. For higher speeds jet/turbofan engines would be the choice, as they are among the few propulsion forms that can operate very efficiently with the atmospheric medium, rather than fully against it (up to certain speeds). So unless you equip that train with jet turbines (impractical for a number of reasons), you will be paying a huge energy price for airplane speeds at ground altitudes (holds true for any kind of ground transportation). As a result those trains are seldom operated at their peak speeds.

They also fly at altitude, where air pressure is much less obviously.

In a somowhat less dense air though.

600 km/h at seal level is Mach 0.5. Commercial aircraft cruise Mach 0.70 - 0.85.

Interesting that this was just on HN a few days ago: "What Happened to Hovertrains? (2018)" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19944382

Let’s put this kind of speed into perspective using distances between North American cities and existing highways, from Google Maps. This is not a proposal, this is merely perspective.

Note: this is also not a proposed route map, but it is probably bleedin’ obvious that some major cities lend themselves to being high speed rail hubs more than others, because they were and/or are historical rail hubs.

I tried to cover the entire lower 48 and the a good portion of Canada and a small part of Mexico so that hopefully most everyone in the US sees a possible line in the data that would 1. Interest them and 2. Give them a sense of scale as to how far two points of interest really are and 3. Imagine how long it would take to get from one point of interest to another along a 600 kph railway.

- Seattle to Portland: 280 kilometers

- Seattle to Spokane: 449 kilometers

- Seattle to Fargo: 2296 kilometers

- Seattle to Minneapolis: 2666 kilometers

- Seattle to Chicago: 3322 kilometers

- San Francisco to Los Angeles: 617 kilometers

- San Francisco to San Diego: 807 kilometers

- San Francisco to Ensenada, Baja California: 937 kilometers

- San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur: 2456 Baja California Sur (from San Diego: 1654 kilometers)

- San Francisco to Reno: 352 kilometers

- San Francisco to Sacramento: 141 kilometers

- San Francisco to Salt Lake City: 1184 kilometers

- San Francisco to Chicago: 3426 kilometers

- San Francisco to Portland: 1022 kilometers

- San Francisco to Seattle: 1300 kilometers

- San Francisco to Vancouver, British Columbia: 1529 kilometers

- Los Angeles to Las Vegas: 435 kilometers

- Los Angeles to Phoenix: 600 Kilometers

- Los Angeles to Salt Lake City: 1108 kilometers

- Los Angeles to Denver: 1635 kilometers

- Los Angeles to Chicago: 3244 kilometers

- San Diego to Mexicali: 198 kilometers

- San Diego to Tucson: 655 kilometers

- San Diego to El Paso: 1165 kilometers

- San Diego to Houston: 2366 kilometers

- San Diego to New Orleans: 2922 kilometers

- Dallas to Corpus Christi: 662 kilometers

- Houston to Austin: 266 kilometers

- Houston to San Antonio: 317 kilometers

- Houston to El Paso: 1199 kilometers

- Houston to Dallas: 385 kilometers

- Houston to Corpus Christi: 334 kilometers

- Houston to New Orleans: 560 kilometers

- Houston to Tallahassee: 1141 kilometers

- Houston to Miami: 1911 kilometers

- Houston to Denver: 1656 kilometers

- Houston to Oklahoma City: 716 kilometers

- Houston to Kansas City: 1198 kilometers

- Houston to St. Louis: 1253 kilometers

- (Trans-Missouri Express! Kansas City to St. Louis: 399 kilometers)

- Houston to Chicago: 1741 kilometers

- Houston to Nashville: 1253 kilometers

- Houston to Atlanta: 1276 kilometers

- Houston to Charleston: 1756 kilometers

- Houston to Charlotte: 1668 kilometers

- Houston to Washington: 2270 kilometers

- Chicago to Winnipeg: 1392 kilometers

- Chicago to Saskatoon: 2109 kilometers

- Chicago to Edmonton: 2633 kilometers

- Chicago to Calgary: 2570 kilometers

- Chicago to Milwaukee: 148 kilometers

- Chicago to Minneapolis: 657 kilometers

- Chicago to Des Moines: 537 kilometers

- Chicago to Lincoln: 841 kilometers

- Chicago to Denver: 1617 kilometers

- Chicago to Kansas City: 820 kilometers

- Chicago to St. Louis: 503 kilometers

- Chicago to Memphis: 850 kilometers

- Chicago to Indianapolis: 292 kilometers

- Chicago to Nashville: 757 kilometers

- Chicago to Louisville: 476 kilometers

- Chicago to Washington: 1124 Kilometers

- Chicago to Philadelphia: 1221 kilometers

- Chicago to New York: 1270 kilometers

- Chicago to Detroit: 453 kilometers

- Chicago to London, Ontario: 648 kilometers

- Chicago to Toronto: 835 kilometers

- Chicago to Ottawa: 1271 kilometers

- Chicago to Montreal: 1363 kilometers

- Chicago to Boston: 1581 kilometers

- Chicago to Portland, Maine: 1740 kilometers

- Boston to Portland, Maine: 180 kilometers

- Boston to New York: 353 kilometers

- New York to Albany: 249 kilometers

- New York to Syracuse: 397 kilometers

- New York to Montreal: 596 kilometers

- New York to Montauk: 190 kilometers

- New York to New Haven: 130 kilometers

- New York to Buffalo: 600 kilometers

- New York to Philadelphia: 151 kilometers

- New York to Washington: 364 kilometers

- New York to Raleigh: 811 kilometers

- New York to Charleston: 1219 kilometers

- New York to Atlanta: 1390 kilometers

- New York to Miami: 2059 kilometers

- Miami to Orlando: 380 kilometers

- Miami to Jacksonville: 558 kilometers

- Miami to Savannah: 783 kilometers

- Miami to Tampa: 454 kilometers

- Miami to Tallahassee: 777 kilometers

christkv 31 days ago [flagged]

In three years they developed the technology needed, more likely just ripped off the tech from Siemens on the Shanghai line.

The maglev they built 17 years ago for a billion dollars?

China has been using maglevs for a long time.

The low-medium maglevs seem quite useful too:


Someday they’ll probably replace their 19,000 miles (soon 25,000) of high-speed rail with maglevs.

In the United States, people couldn’t be convinced to build high-speed rail and now the land is expensive.

> Someday they’ll probably replace their 19,000 miles (soon 25,000) of high-speed rail with maglevs.

Not necessarily and definitely not soon. Maglev isn't strictly better (unless it's also suitable for cargo trains or China doesn't use their high-speed rail for cargo at all -- not even at night). Replacing high-speed rail by maglev means that you're basically replacing high-speed rail with somewhat higher-speed rail at the cost of (almost[1]) completely new infrastructure. And during the transition, you basically have two independent railway networks. It's like having two railway gauges in a country, but even worse. Every piece of rolling stock can only run on one network. That's inflexible, increasing costs and/or reducing reliability. It also necessitates additional transfers.

[1] You can reuse station and other buildings, maybe platforms too. I can't think of anything else.

Replacing 225 mph trains with 400 mph maglevs should be worth it, especially on long routes like the 800 mile trip between Shanghai and Beijing.

I didn’t say it would be easy or cheap. I’m sure there are lots of details to consider.

China, however, has no problem doing large infrastructure projects.

> Replacing 225 mph trains with 400 mph maglevs should be worth it, especially on long routes like the 800 mile trip between Shanghai and Beijing.

That's 2h vs 3.5h, not taking into account acceleration. Time on a train can be used productively, so it isn't lost. Taking opportunity costs into account, it may or may not be worth it. I'm also not sure if 225 mph is the physical limit of conventional trains.

Also, faster trains don't necessarily make the network faster. Especially when using an integrated time table, you can run trains slower (or let them wait, but that has the same effect and wastes energy) to improve connections, thus reducing waiting times and ultimately getting people faster to their destinations. I don't know how China's railways work in detail though and they may very well optimize for making Shanghai-Beijing fast.

> China, however, has no problem doing large infrastructure projects.

That may change when they have to spend more on maintenance as their infrastructure grows and ages. Also, the question is not whether they can replace their HSR with maglevs -- of course they can -- but whether the party considers it the best use of resources, also compared to other large infrastructure projects.

Its not just about the passenger. There have been historical increases (geometric increases) in the economy each time the speed of commerce improves. Horse (4mph) vs ox(2mph); steamship vs sail; scheduled steamship service vs sail-when-full; fixed-price postage vs line-up-at-the-post-office; transcontinental railway. Heck even FedEx was a game changer.

And its not just passengers, its cargo too. Imagine a delivery service that can offer 5 shipments a day vs 4 because the trains are faster. It has its effect on the bottom line.

In the past, faster transportation also made communication faster. This isn't the case anymore. There are also diminishing returns.

> Imagine a delivery service that can offer 5 shipments a day vs 4 because the trains are faster.

Unfortunately, we are far from the point where we have so few problems left that this is the most effective use of resources.

You sure have lots of excuses. “You only save 1.5 hours”. That’s for 180 million passengers a year.


Your tactics worked in the US. China does things a little differently.

China is building 25,000 miles of high-speed rail. They must be reasoning differently? Think they are testing 480 mph maglevs for a reason?

> Your tactics worked in the US.

That's fascinating considering I've never been there and I think railways (including maglevs when it's a better option than conventional rail) should be the primary transportation system for both passengers and cargo.

FWIW, most of my objections don't even apply when building HSR from scratch.

HSR on the coast are dedicated passenger lines

Your sentiment is popular this days with the big propaganda we see but is there any hint that what you say is true, maybe they stole it from other company or maybe in a country with such a large population you will have a large number of smart people.

Also it doesn't really matter since the implementation is close to 20 years old, which means the patents should have expired anyway.

Patents are such a pain, I know someone that works in designing things for cars, and they need to actively avoid patents, things that are obvious and were patented you have to do not obvious things so you don't trip on them.

Of course it’s propaganda the shocking thing is not that they are pushing for a China is bad story. It’s that they pretended it was not happening for the last decades eroding industries and blue collar jobs putting us in today’s situation where a totalitarian state governs most electronics manufacturing of the world including most of the supply chain.

I find it particularily morbid that both countries that seemingly fight over the tech leadership on thsi planet both have the death penalty. Makes it hard to make out the moral winner watching from afar :-( Also, given all the bad spying rep the US has, I am really not sure what is better: a US phone or a China phone... Both seem a very good way to get fucked over.

Yeah definitively, the US is no angel that's for sure but its still aligned with democratic values (at least for now).

Democratic values? As in, the one who receives the most votes will win the election?

Few western countries have a majority votes takes all system, that does not necessarily make them undemocratic. Both Spain and Norway that I know we'll have proportional systems where the number of votes are not necessarily aligned with the number of seats in parliament. A vote in one region might be worth more than another.

Proportional systems are designed from what I understand to balance the power between the populous cities and the country side.

Which I consider outright discrimination. Why exactly would the vote of one individual be less or more worth then a vote from another individual?

I don't make a judgment call towards if one is better than the other but I do firmly believe that 50% + 1 vote is not a mandate. I would really like to see a proper 2/3 majority before you let someone impose their will on the other group. Proportional representation has one interesting side effect it seems. You get more political parties in parliament leaving lunatic fringe groups their own parties and allowing the centre mostly to rule.

>You get more political parties in parliament leaving lunatic fringe groups their own parties and allowing the centre mostly to rule.

Or you have to put together a coalition to rule which may include cozying up to one or more "lunatic fringe groups" out of all proportion to how many seats they have.

Germany has had coalition governments almost all the time since 1949, and there are very few „lunatic fringe groups“ in parliament. Let alone part of the government.

There are lawsuits involving the issue, as another comment reports. Jumping to ''big propaganda'' is unwarranted.

The lawsuit in the other comment doesn't involve Siemens though, hence "maybe they stole it from other company" might be more accurate.

The train the OP mentions has a maximum speed of 420 kmh, I'd say the Chinese did a hell of a job to build this train which supposedely can reach 600 kmh, there's no train in Europe that can reach that, not even the French TGV. As someone else mentioned bellow only the Japanese are close to building a similar train. Which is to say that this is a hell of an achievement by the Chinese.

Thanks I did not know about that, would be good if this would have been added into the initial comment.


I was not accusing the OP but the entire media, for months we have China is bad stories on the first page daily, before that was all about the Saudi Arabia and before that there was Russia (I do not remember what was before that). I prefer to ask for the actual information, someone said there is a lawsuit but did not link anything so far, this is what I wanted, less speculation and a bit more facts.

I don’t understand the apologists either. This is not a lovely democratic state it’s probably histories most successful authoritarian gangster state in modern history. A future with an ascendant China wielding global military power is not going to be nice for anyone.

And to fix that let's do what ?

a) spy on our citizens, on our alleys, use demagogy, propaganda and anti-science

b) do what we want others to do and we say we do

c) find a reason and just attack them(or similar shit), put our preferred government


I would agree with you if US would do it consistently, but when you try to accuse country A of doing X and not sell them CPUs and you sell weapons to country B that does does X too is hypocritical.

So I am with you let's respect all the international treaties and apply everything the same. IF country A commits a genocide and we invade it then we should do the same if country B does the same thing, not do it when is economically or politically convenient.

I will not bring up any names here. But I know there is a project between CRRC, Siemens and a university in Germany to transfer the knowledge from Siemens to China and update e.g. the controller algorithms

Edit: so all the rumors about stealing are not true. The knowledge is handed over

It looks like the German maglev project shut down a few years ago because of lack of interest. I wouldn't be surprised if they were selling off whatever they had.

Relevant, although not exactly the same tech. I believe they lost the subsequent lawsuits even, because, China doesn't really care about IP theft:


Breakthroughs sure are easier when you can just help yourself to most of the answers but there does seem to be at least some homegrown contributions as well.


Ah yes, accuse those who want China to not steal technology as actually just being racist.

That's less than 12hrs London to New Delhi. Imagine the possibilities.

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