Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Germany building maglev railway

Whilst what little that remains of our 200 year old railway infrastructure crumbles to dust and our trains clank along like Thomas the tank engine, overpriced and utterly unreliable following Beeching's savage purge on British Railways to curry favour with the road transport petrolium lobby in the 1960's and our roads grind to a halt under the weight of commercial traffic, Germany is set to commence the construction of a 300mph Maglev rail link from Munich city centre to its airport.

The £1.3bn project had faced financing problems but the Bavarian state government has signed an agreement with German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, Transrapid consortium and the developers of the train Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. The maglev has a top speed of more than 310mph and is regarded as a symbol of German technological excellence.

The first commercial Maglev was opened in 1984 in Birmingham covering a poxy 600 meters between its airport and railhub but was eventually closed in 1995 due to technical problems. It was another embarrassing failure and financial black hole, symbolic testimony of the fall of this once proud and technologically groundbreaking Nation.

The only currently commercially operating high speed Maglev line of note is the IOS demonstration line of the German built Transrapid train in Shanghai China that transports people 30 km to the airport in just 7 minutes 20 seconds, achieving a top speed of 268 mph.

American Maglev experiments based on an early British Thompson Houston of Rugby concept in the 1960's were abandoned due to cost. Super conductive technology remains the biggest setback to the Maglev's viabillity as a long distance rapid transit system.

Despite firm international financial backing and complete engineering viability studies, attempts to build a high speed rail link the length of England using the former Great Central Railway alignment have repeatedly been blocked by the British government. The GCR was built to the European Berne loading gauge in 1900 as a channel tunnel route from the then, industrial North to the South coast. It was closed after only 60 years and now lies an overgrown indictment to the cultural vandalism, crass indifference and political gerrymandering of successive governments, corrupt ministers and their personal vested interests.

The old GCR passes silently and invisibly through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful countryside in Britain in an almost unbroken straight line with no perceptible gradients, sharp curves or level crossings. It was the last Main Line railway to be built in Britain and its route was duplicated almost exactly, sometimes to within only a few feet and concurrent with its run down and closure, by the route of the newly constructed M1 Motorway.

The final cost of construction of the GCR in 1900 was £6 million in private capital, above the original estimates by some margin. The projected cost to the Tax Payer for the proposed widening of the M1 in 2000, the governments prefered option was £21 million PER MILE. Which was over four times the Central Rail Consortium's supported projections for reopening the GCR using private venture capital. Projections which included construction, track and infrastructure and rolling stock.

Pip pip

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