Wednesday, April 04, 2007
357 mph on the GROUND? No Thanks MAGLEV yes
A French train just hit a record 357 miles per hour running ON TRACKS (right photo), with cars full of reporters, most of whom were terrified. Bad idea to go that fast with track contact so critical - derailment could be caused by a penny on the track. Shanghai's MAGLEV makes more sense for high speed - since magnets cause the entire train to hover over the trackway. On the left is the Shanghai MAGLEV, the world's first (made with German technology).
MAGLEV would make sense for a city like Houston, which has over 5,000 square miles of area compared to the tiny footprint of places like New York. But a train going over 350 mph on steel rails that warp in the summer, etc. - NO WAY. Britian has had several derailments at much lower speeds (125 is their top speed).
Meanwhile in Houston, we have only a single, street grade rail that won't set any speed records. I still wish we had the vision to build what makes sense for Houston - a super fast link to each airport and the city center. A MAGLEV could make the airport run a 20 minute pleasure instead of today's hour(s) long pain.
It could also be a backup way to get around when the road wrecks or floods cut off our primary transport system (roads, roads, roads).
But I don't see that happening - just "more of the same" slow surface rail which will be stalled with everything else in the next flood...and even that is decades late in being built. This is one area where the Toll idea makes sense - set it up as a Toll MAGLEV private/public project, with the first link from Intercontinental to Downtown or Galleria...(or both).
We should get in the global game with a MAGLEV or equivalent rail system connecting our airports to the city...