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Supersonic train close to reality

Reporter: Li Sien, Wang Jinru 丨 CCTV.com

09-26-2016 11:31 BJT

Supersonic train travel may be moving a step closer. An American company has announced it will test a prototype "Hyperloop" system in the Nevada desert early next year. The technology uses magnetic levitation - but the idea’s been around for more than a century. CCTV's Guy Henderson reports from Berlin.

The race is on - to make supersonic train travel reality. And American firm Hyperloop One now believe they have the edge.

Alan James of Hyperloop One said, "We are currently putting all the current parts of Hyperloop One together - the tube, the pod, the pressure reduction system, the passive Maglev, the linear motor to accelerator. We will integrate all of those systems and have proof of technology at our test site in Nevada desert in the first quarter of 2017."

A pipe dream until 2013 — when billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled a plan to make it happen.

It may not look like it, but delegates at this biennial Maglev meeting in Berlin are pretty excited.

The Maglev stalls at one of the world’s largest train fayres, are no longer in the wings.

"The first attempt at magnetic levitation train travel took place in the 1870s! More than a lifetime later, the technology still hasn’t fully caught on. But there’s plenty of optimism here that it may finally be getting there - though in many cases, somewhat slower than the speed of sound," said Guy Henderson.

There are currently 3 operational worldwide - Shanghai’s is the fastest at 431 kilometers per hour. High construction costs, say critics, offsets savings in maintenance. But industry experts say vested are the real obstacle.

President of international Maglev board, Johannes Kluehspies said, "If you are the maker of an established high-speed train network, you make money from the maintenance - the wheels, the ware of them that exists and you need to compensate that. That is huge business. A MAGLEV system doesn’t have wheels - so all these companies are afraid to lose their business."

A train without wheels; a plane without wings. Potentially a transport category all on its own.

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