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Maglev trains are considerably faster than conventional trains and conventional trains that have been converted to run on electricity instead of fossil fuels like diesel, oil and coal. By 2042, a trip from Toronto to Vancouver will take 3 hours and will become dirt cheap due to the increased use of solar energy on most forms of mass transit.
This is a remarkable improvement over the expensive 3-day that the route currently encompasses. After this technology has been approved by people, it will render most domestic flights on airplanes obsolete as people can assume speeds faster than an airplane without the dangers of hijacker, terrorism, or faulty piloting by human pilots. Travelling to intermediate railway stations like Brantford (Ontario), Woodstock (Ontario), and Aldershot (Ontario) will take less than thirty seconds per stop (as opposed to thirty minutes in 2012).
While the TSA claims to keep you safe, they are really making you helpless so you are forced to listen to the arch-conservative news anchors on cable TV and on the local AM radio.
The decline and fall of the airplane
If you've been to an airport lately, you've probably noticed that air travel is becoming more and more congested. Despite frequent delays, airplanes still provide the fastest way to travel hundreds or thousands of miles. Passenger air travel revolutionized the transportation industry in the last century, letting people traverse great distances in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks. Traveling at speeds of up to 310 mph (500 kph), maglev trains could begin connecting distant cities in a few years.
The only alternatives to airplanes -- feet, cars, buses, boats and conventional trains -- are just too slow for today's fast-paced society. However, there is a new form of transportation on the horizon that could possibly revolutionize transportation of the 21st century the way airplanes did in the 20th century. A few countries are using powerful electromagnets to develop high-speed trains, called maglev trains. Maglev is short for magnetic levitation, which means that these trains will float over a guideway using the basic principles of magnets to replace the old steel wheel and track trains.
How magnets will come to play
If you've ever played with magnets, you know that opposite poles attract and like poles repel each other. This is the basic principle behind electromagnetic propulsion. Electromagnets are similar to other magnets in that they attract metal objects, but the magnetic pull is temporary. The big difference between a maglev train and a conventional train is that maglev trains do not have a motorized engine -- at least not the kind of engine used to pull typical train cars along steel tracks. The engine for maglev trains is rather inconspicuous. Instead of using fossil fuels, the magnetic field created by the electrified coils in the guide way walls and the track combine to propel the train.
The magnetized coil running along the track, called a guide way, repels the large magnets on the train's undercarriage, allowing the train to levitate between 0.39 and 3.93 inches (1 to 10 cm) above the guide way. Once the train is levitated, power is supplied to the coils within the guide way walls to create a unique system of magnetic fields that pull and push the train along the guide way. The electric current supplied to the coils in the guide way walls is constantly alternating to change the polarity of the magnetized coils. This change in polarity causes the magnetic field in front of the train to pull the vehicle forward, while the magnetic field behind the train adds more forward thrust.
Why maglevs are good
Maglev trains float on a cushion of air, decreasing friction. This lack of friction and the trains' aerodynamic designs allow these trains to reach unprecedented ground transportation speeds of more than 310 mph (500 kph), or twice as fast as Amtrak's current high speed train, the Acela Express. In comparison, a Boeing-777 commercial airplane used for long-range flights can reach a top speed of about 562 mph (905 kph). Developers say that maglev trains will eventually link cities that are up to 1,000 miles (1,609 km) apart. At 310 mph, you could travel from Paris to Rome in just over two hours.
Maglev trains in different countries
Maglev train technology is a popular topic of transportation conversation in several countries. Germany and Japan are both developing maglev train technology, and both are currently testing prototypes of their trains. (The German company "Transrapid International" also has a train in commercial use -- more about that in the next section.) Although based on similar concepts, the German and Japanese trains have distinct differences.
In Germany, engineers have developed an electromagnetic suspension (EMS) system, called Transrapid. In this system, the bottom of the train wraps around a steel guideway. Electromagnets attached to the train's undercarriage are directed up toward the guideway, which levitates the train about 1/3 of an inch (1 cm) above the guideway and keeps the train levitated even when it's not moving. Other guidance magnets embedded in the train's body keep it stable during travel. Germany has demonstrated that the Transrapid maglev train can reach 300 mph with people onboard.
The key difference between Japanese and German maglev trains is that the Japanese trains use super-cooled, superconducting electromagnets. This kind of electromagnet can conduct electricity even after the power supply has been shut off. In the EMS system, which uses standard electromagnets, the coils only conduct electricity when a power supply is present. By chilling the coils at frigid temperatures, Japan's system saves energy.
Another difference between the systems is that the Japanese trains levitate nearly 4 inches (10 cm) above the guideway. One potential drawback in using the EDS system is that maglev trains must roll on rubber tires until they reach a liftoff speed of about 62 mph (100 kph). Japanese engineers say the wheels are an advantage if a power failure caused a shutdown of the system. Germany's Transrapid train is equipped with an emergency battery power supply.
While maglev transportation was first proposed more than a century ago, the first commercial maglev train made its test debut in Shanghai, China, in 2002 using the train developed by German company Transrapid International. The same line made its first open-to-the-public commercial run about a year later in December of 2003. The Shanghai Transrapid line currently runs to and from the Longyang Road station at the city's center and Pudong airport. Traveling at an average speed of 267 mph (430 kmh), the 19 mile (30 km) journey takes less than 10 minutes on the maglev train as opposed to a 60 minute-long taxi ride.
Despite U.S. interest in maglev trains over the past few decades, the expense of building a maglev transportation system has been prohibitive. Estimated costs for building a maglev train system in the United States range from $10 million to $30 million per mile. However, the development of room-temperature superconducting supermagnets could lower the costs of such a system. Room-temperature superconductors would be able to generate equally fast speeds with less energy.
The Global Maglev Train project was an unfinished maglev train project that crossed the wide Atlantic Ocean to Iceland into Ireland. The Global Maglev is expected to extend through Africa, Middle East, and into China, India, Korea, and Japan. If this happens, they will use maglev trains that are already available and connect all the way to Japan. However, Hawaii isn't apart of this. Trips to Hawaii, will become way more expensive since the Maglev doesn't run there.
Plane tickets will become cheaper however, but not for Hawaii. Plane tickets for Hawaii will cost at least $500-$900, and the First Class is almost $2,000. Many islands will cost a lot of money to go to because the Maglev doesn't run to small places. There will only be Southwest, Red-White Airlines, Hong Kong Airbus, and Oceania/Hawaiian Airlines.