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Maglev trains

Maglev train in Shanghai, ChinaMaglev train in Shanghai, ChinaClick to play videoMaglev (short for MAGnetic LEVitation) is a way of propelling a vehicle along using magnets rather than wheels and axles. A maglev vehicle is levitated a short distance using magnets to create forces of both lift and thrust. High-speed maglev trains may one day revolutionize transport across the world. Compared to wheeled trains, they move more smoothly and quietly, their acceleration is much greater and their energy consumption lower. They are also unaffected by poor weather conditions. 

How a maglev train worksHow a maglev train works

How maglevs work

A maglev train works on the principle that “like” magnetic poles push each other apart and "opposite" magnetic poles are attracted to each other. Powerful magnets fixed to the track push and pull those fixed to the train in such a way that the train continually moves forwards while being suspended above the track. Because there is little friction between train and track, maglevs can reach high speeds. Magnets lift a maglev train about a centimetre above the track. In some systems, support wheels are necessary.

Speed record

In 1933, the German engineer Hermann Kemper was the first to construct a mini rail circuit around which wheel-less vehicles hovered using electro-magnetic levitation.

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