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New Chinese “Levitating” Train Can Travel From Beijing To Shanghai Faster Than A Plane

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Air travel used to be fun but these days the airways are congested and airport terminals can be a nightmare to negotiate, and thousands of passengers waiting in line to check-in, go through security checks and finally to board their airplane.

Of course, for certain destinations there’s no other option but to take to the skies. In most cases, when there’s no ocean to cross, there’s always the option of travelling by rail.

Although often at a slower place, many trains offer comfort, scenery to enjoy, a dining car and often also sleep coaches – sounds idyllic but who has the time?

Magnetic repulsion, or maglev technology has the potential for trains travel to travel at very high speeds and cut traveling times drastically. Maglev is a process where magnetic repulsion is used to keep the train off the tracks (levitating) while pushing it  forward. The lack of friction between the wheels and tracks allows the train to travel at amazingly high speeds.

British electrical engineer Erick Laithwaite worked on the concept of maglev since the 1940s and in 1984, the first commercial, magnetic levitated train began operations at Birmingham International Airport in the UK, traveling at a top speed of just 26 miles per hour, despite the slow speed it was a historical moment for the future of rail travel. Decades later, Laithwaite’s concept has been put to use in countries like China, Japan and South Korea, producing speeds the originator would be proud of.

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation recently put forward the idea of a super-fast maglev train, expected to reach speeds of up to 600 mph, making it a faster way to travel, in some instances even faster than traveling by air, especially when adding the time it takes to finally get into the air. In May this year, the CRRC showcased their prototype of the train Qingdao, China. The concept, first announced in 2015, with the prototype revealed this year, the company plans to start production and launch the train by 2021.

The CRRC’s deputy chief engineer said that the company plans to test the train on an experimental track, still to be built, very soon.

China already has the world’s fastest commercial maglev service. The Shanghai Maglev, with a top operational speed of 431 km/h, has been carrying passengers on a 30 km stretch between Shanghai’s Pudong airport and the city centre since 2003.

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