Maglev Trains

by Eric James Cruger

What are Maglev Trains?

Originated in Japan, Maglev trains are the new up and coming way for long distance transportation. They are trains powered by electromagnets that give them the ability to reach a significantly higher speed than regular trains. MagLev stands for magnetic levitation, stating that the trains move using magnetism to float over a guide way, replacing the steel wheels and tracks that today's trains use.

How do they work?

MagLev trains operate by utilizing the mechanics of Electromagnetic Suspension, where a metal is being charged by a power source which gives the metal magnetic properties. This makes Maglev Trains giant electromagnets. In order for the MagLev trains to do this they need three essential components; a large electrical power source, metal coils lining a guide way (tracks), and large guidance magnets on the bottom of the train.
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But what makes it go?

The coils electric current brought by the guide ways are continuously changing, thus constantly changing the polarity of the coils. The constant change in polarity causes the magnetic field in front of the train to continuously attract the train making it move forward. The lack of friction allows the train to reach a speed up to 310 mph or 500 kph!
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Variety of Mechanics

To this day there are two countries that have originated different types of mechanics and magnetism for MagLev trains, all using the principles of electromagnetic suspension.

The first country is Germany, who uses a system that they call "transrapid". Transrapid is where the bottom of the train wraps around a steel guideway and magnet is directed to all sides of the guideway, making it levitate even when it isn't moving.

The next country is Japan, which utilizes a system called electrodynamic suspension which uses the principles of electromagnetic suspension. Electrodynamic suspension is simply utilizing repelling forces to lift off the ground. The Japanese system is also different from the German's because they use superconducting electromagnets which can conduct electricity even when a power source is turned off.

There is also a newer type of MagLev train system called inductrack which is currently being developed.

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MagLev Trains in Use

Video on How MAGLEV Trains Work!

Maglev Trains