Brand New 620 km/h Maglev Prototype

Brand New 620 km/h Maglev Prototype

China showcased its newest maglev iteration, a prototype train with a designed speed of 620 km/h (385 mph) in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province. It's using the groundbreaking high-temperature superconducting (HTS) maglev technology for levitation and propulsion. Let's see all the details!

• The 21-meter-long silver-and-black locomotive has a super aerodynamic dolphin-faced design featuring a glass for the train operator that's shaped like a soda bottle

• 100% domestically developed by the researchers at the Southwest Jiaotong University, China Railway Group Limited, and CRRC Corporation Limited

• Developing the new maglev has cost 60 million yuan ($9.3 million)

• The functioning prototype was demonstrated on a 165-meter (540 feet) maglev test track in Chengdu

• Commercial availability is expected within six years

• The prototype uses carbon fiber and is about half the weight of its high-speed rail train counterparts

• The weight saving on the train also helps to reduce the cost of building infrastructure

• With a top speed of 620 km/h (385 mph), it's the fastest maglev train, beating the Japanese SCMaglev by 115 km/h (71 mph). The researchers claim that they were working to stretch that speed to 800km/h (497mph)

• A 50 km (31 miles) long test track is planned to be built in order to be able to test the top speed

China maglev render

• Researchers at Southwest Jiaotong University also said that their superconducting maglev technology is more economical than SCMaglev

• The Japanese Chuo Shinkansen maglev line used liquid helium to achieve that extreme low temperature of minus 269 degrees Celsius (minus 452 Fahrenheit) for superconductivity while China’s high-temperature superconducting maglev is using liquid-nitrogen that slash the cost to one-fiftieth

• Other notable difference is that the Japanese SCMaglev needs to accelerate first before being able to levitate, while the Chengdu prototype can levitate from a standing start

• The new maglev is part of Beijing’s futuristic plan to create even faster links between cities

• It is the world's first vehicle to use the high-temperature superconducting (HTS) maglev technology

• The HTS technology will make it faster and lighter than its rivals

• Compared with other maglev technologies, HTS tech is more suitable for the futuristic concept of super-fast transportation in vacuum tubes (Hyperloop), where trains could hit speeds of over 1,000 km/h

• The HTS technology can make the train float without electricity, and it can be moved with just one hand. To demonstrate this, at the site a reporter has pushed the 12-tonne levitated locomotive with one finger

New Chinese maglev prototype design

• The maglev would cover the distance between London and Paris in 47 minutes at maximum speed

• Wu Zili, a senior engineer with the Southwest Jiaotong University, said the cost of the (HTS) maglev system is not much higher than the traditional high-speed rail and with mass production, they could compete with the price

• They estimate the building cost of a new maglev line would be between 250 million yuan ($38.6 million) and 300 million yuan ($46.3 million) per kilometer, compared to 200 million yuan ($30.9 million) per kilometer for high-speed rail. This is before mass production is taken into consideration

• They plan to use the technology for a high-speed maglev link between Chengdu and Chongqing

New maglev prototype interior
New maglev pilot cabin
Chinese maglev driver's instruments