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The Maglev Mirage

by DoDo Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:20:32 AM EST

Last Friday, Germany's "Transrapid" TR 08 maglev test train crashed with 200 km/h into a maintenance car. The driver-less train carried 33, mostly workers and family, 23 died.

Because of the German Transrapid, whose first commercial application connects Shanghai to its airport at 430 km/h, Europe is world leader in maglev technology (despite Japan's MLX01 holding the world speed record of 581 km/h). Yet I will contend that it is an expensive prestige project without real potential.


But first about the accident. It is not clear yet what was the exact cause, but the two vehicles shouldn't have been on the track simultaneously according to operating rules. This points to human error (of the traffic controllers), yet other humans could have compensated for it: for example a driver would have been alert to start braking on sight of an obstacle (but the Transrapid runs remote-controlled for a few years now, with only emergency watchmen sitting in it), or the maintenance workers, had they been equipped with a permanent radio link to the control room.

The Transrapid magnetic levitation train system has been developed for two decades before the technology was sound (at the end of the eighties) – yet in the meantime, 'normal' high-speed trains developed a lot, too: they got closer to maglev's potential on speed, acceleration and lowered noise, and even surpassed it on riding quality. Still, technical advantages remain:

(Though the graph is outdated, the latest high-speed trains doing it on 15–20 km, but that's still a big difference.)

But against the technical advantages, beyond safety concerns, are operational and economic issues.

The Transrapid can travel only along its own special track, so a whole new network must be built for it to compete with existing networks. High-speed rail in contrast can just continue along normal tracks at normal speed where its dedicated track ends, allowing more destinations. These destinations include cities to which a new line may never be built for economic reasons.

Meanwhile, the Transrapid has one killer cost factor: the tracks. A factor bigger than for commercial high-speed, a factor that could be kept in check only with tricks.

For long, the builders and supporters in the German federal government (mainly in the CDU/CSU-FDP government of Helmut Kohl) tried to make a Berlin–Hamburg pilot line a reality – but the project was marred by severe underestimations of costs and overestimations of traffic volume to be expected, so it was finally killed by the Schröder government.

The Pudong line near Shanghai was built by sparing the connection into downtown which would have required a tunnel (thus the line ends at a suburban subway station), and benefited from state support involving the speedy razing of homes in the right of way. Its passenger numbers were severely overestimated too (still less than half than projected – with greatly reduced ticket price). The Chinese Government also ditched the maglev option for the long Beijing–Shanghai line, though it did consent to an extension of the Pudong line to Hangzhou (200 km).

The builders argued after the nixing of the Berlin–Hamburg line that the key to further exports is for Germany to build some lines just to demonstrate faith in the technology. One of the two proposals was to connect the cities of the Ruhr area, the Metrorapid. It came out that to save costs, the proposal was to build it on earth level on the place of existing (and heavily used) railway tracks. Yet this mad proposal that would have crippled regular railway operations was still too expensive, so it was dropped.

The other project, to connect Munich's airport to the city centre (despite two railway lines already serving that connection) is still alive. It too was streamlined: for example cutting the number of the very expensive switches – which, as everyone with a clue about railway operation knows, means that one vehicle failure will make the one-train-every-10-minutes schedule collapse. But in the wake of last week's disaster, the originally €1.4, now already €1.8 billion project of only 37.5 km length was again called into question.

A further sad consequence of politicians' starry-eyed boyish obsession with some gadgety high-tech mega-project is shifting funds from elsewhere to keep these mirages alive. In the case of the Transrapid, I noted in the Trainwreck diary that focus on the Transrapid's development also lead to cutbacks in the German Railways' normal high-speed development, cutbacks that caused the technology omissions that made the Eschede disaster possible.

Also, during the long years when the Berlin–Hamburg line was discussed, the German Railways was forced to keep its post-Reunification upgrade of its parallel line under the highest standards (160 km/h instead of 230 km/h), so they had to spend another lot of money in a second upgrade once the Transrapid line was dead. I note that ICE trains now cover the distance in one-and-a-half hours, while the Transrapid would have done it in one hour – not that big an advantage despite twice the top speed.

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Display:
Nothing against starry-eyed boyish obsession when it makes sense, of course :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 10:32:34 AM EST
I was about to quote that line, because my question(s) probably fills the criteria.

Is there any technical reason they can't plate all sleepers with solar panels (or paint on a suitable substance etc.)?  If they also placed solar panels to either side of railway tracks, would the two (panels on sleepers plus panels either side of the track) generate significant power to the network?

The starry-eyed part is that I wish to see a non-polluting high-tech train network--at a reasonable cost--spreading across Europe and beyond.  And asap.

The boyish obsession part is that I see lots of "mostly not being used" track sitting there and think...what I wrote above.

Could they also (or instead of solar panels) place windmills either side of the tracks?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 10:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... just for the heck of it, let's take a 100 km high-speed railway with two tracks, no tunnels or bridges or walls to the South, with two trains per hour per direction running with an average power of 5000 kW and no significant regenerative braking, each train taking 30 minutes. That makes an average power need of 10 MW. Taking a central European yearly average capacity factor of 11%, a further reduction by a factor of 0.7 due to laying the solar panels flat rather than inclined, we'd need a generating capacity [e.g. nominal capacity] of around 130 MW. You get solar panels with 80-140 W/m² nominal power, the larger the higher, due to the small width of sleepers let's go with 100 W/m² -- hence you need to cover 1,300,000 m². If I'm generous, you can consider fixed track instread of track on sleepers, and you have a suitable area of 1.3 m² per metre track between the rails, that is 130,000 m²: only a tenth of what is needed.

The above was all just a theoretical exercise. In practise, due to the vibrations, whipped-up stones, and dirt falling off trains (if you can keep oil in check, there is still snow and powder from brake pads), solar cells have no chance of surviving in tracks, or over a bit longer time even on the ground near tracks.

Wind power would be much more likely to have the potential: you'd only need 16 turbines of 2.5 MW each to give the needed average power, and with four times as many, you could cover the power need (with some to spare) most of the time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 11:09:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're comparing apples and oranges. A 2.5 MW turbine requires no obstacles in a 125,000 m^2 area around it [I'm assuming a nominal efficiency of 20 W/m^2 as we have calculated months ago when comparing wind farms with nuclear powers, and the like).

So in terms of the area needed, wind and solar come to about the same.

I think building a square kilometre of solar paners is more polluting than 40 2.5MW turbines. Or is it?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 11:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never liked the Maglev idea either. ICE and TGV are several times cheaper and almost as fast (320 km/h (with a potential of 350 km/h) versus 430 km/h). I'd much rather have 500 km TGV/ICE than 50 km (or whatever) Maglev.

We have a dormant TGV/ICE project in Sweden called The European Corridor. The old corrupt government never pushed it, but maybe the new one will.

I really hope it will.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 11:43:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying you expect the new right-wing government to be less corrupt than the old left-wing one? What are you basing this on?
by Trond Ove on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:17:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also: a right-wing government (one advocating a more liberal economic policy to boot) more firendly to investment into public transport?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Contracts for their friends and family in industry.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:34:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are also a lot more pro-industry and would love to spend public money to improve the competitivness of Swedish industry, especially if it would create new jobs, as they were elected mainly on a jobs platform.

Furthermore, the main rightwing party has been very opposed to having free market road tolls in the capital. I am holding my fingers crossed. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. Or maybe, being more pro-industry, they will go on a new privatization spree making things worse not better. Or the kind of semi-privatization schemes that is providing (or increasing?) state funding for private schools to provide more 'choice', or similar in the healthcare industry. I have heard both of those things suggested at some point.
By free market road tolls in the capital, do you mean the congestion tax? How is this a free market road toll? It seems like a measure to promote use of public transport and decrease traffic in the city. Popular with those who actually live in the city, less so to the suburbians. I don't see how the congestion tax is anything but a good thing.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Swedish (heavy) industry has been burned by power deregulation and recoils from anything that sounds like privatization. The new pm has argued against Cevian assaulting Volvo etc. Industrial capitalism is making a comeback against financial capitalism.

Schools and hospital privatization is not anything to worry about as it will still be tax-payed. If the private schools (which anyone can be admitted to free of charge) do better that the public schools it's a good thing and if they don't they'll close. It's a win-win situation.

On a tangent, the pm has his kids in public school in spite of a majority of schools in his hometown being private.

-----------------------------------------------------
The congestion tax is a neoliberal idea, which is why Federley and the neolibs support it. The argument is that roads are a good like any other and the price of using it should be decided by supply and demand. That is, if there is a large demand on roads and a small supply (=congestion) there should be a cost so the poor stays away from driving so the rich can have a nicer driving experience.

What if we did like this in the hospital emergency room or in public transport?

- Sorry we just have had a large car accident so we can't take care of your gunshot wound right now. But you can cut the line if you pay €1000.

or

- Because of the congestion in the subway we have decided to increase fare prices to €10 so supply meets demand without inefficient congestion. Have a nice day.

Those are absurd solutions. If there is a congestion for a vital good the solution is not to increase prices but increase capacity. That is build a new hospital, or in the matter of congestion, build new highways, railroads and metros.

Arguing that prices should be allowed to increase to spur new investment (in hospitals or roads etc) is irrelevant as those things are not operating on a free market so it won't work, and more importantly, I do not want to live in a society where the price of those things are decided by the market. Call me a commie bastard if you like. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 07:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remain suspicious of this alliance. I can't help but fear that for all their pretty talk the Moderate party is really just doing the best they can to make sure that as much money goes to the wealthiest segment of society as they can get away with. The alliance did push the traditional "welfare recipients are a bunch of lazy cheats and lowering payments will lead to more people with work" before the election.
---
Roads are not like a hospital emergency room. There are alternatives, like public transport. I don't think increasing road capacity is really a solution for traffic congestion in major cities. There is only so much space to go around. Where are you going to put all those new roads? Roads are not a vital good when you have a public transport system! More roads also typically yields more traffic rather than improving congestion. So more polluting vehicles in city centres, which the inhabitants of the same with some right disfavour. If one believes (as I do) that dense urban areas are preferable to suburban sprawl with long commuting distances, cars ought to be kept out of the cities so they remain a reasonable place to live.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:47:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: The argument is that roads are a good like any other and the price of using it should be decided by supply and demand.

Supply and demand are in balance anyway, with the total price (including non-monetary) including the inconvenience, additional fuel consumption, etc., caused by the congestion. I think that the argument is better staged in terms of differing negative externalities of driving at different times, noting that differential monetary pricing is a non-destructive transfer of tokens, while congestion destroys actual fuel and slices of human lifetime.

It is often argued that X should have a lower price because the poor will be more affected, but this applies with similar force to all non-luxury goods X. In all instances, to act on this would distort prices and incentives. This suggests that it is far better to address inequalities more directly, on the income side.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:40:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope so. The leftists showed they are corrupt. The new government haven't had the chance to be corrupt yet.

Also this new government is composed of four parties instead of one which means the pm will not be a president anymore. This means there will be several competing centres of power withinh the government. This will give some checks and balances that should stop the worst excesses.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:43:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I may agree with the analysis here but I have to note that all breaktrhough/disruptive technologies are less efficient than already mature ones.

You need dedicated "starry eyed" early adopters to make the economics work. And Maglev has significant potential advantages by the reduced friction especially if combined with wings in ground effect tunnels.

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need dedicated "starry eyed" early adopters to make the economics work.

But often even that is not enough. Some concepts just don't work economically. In that case, the starry-eyed waste money, often public money, which is really bad if it could have been spent on something else less impressive but still modern and sensible. A modern high-speed train, or a suburban train locomotive with the latest permanent-magnet synchronous motors under its hood, or a track-changing tramway, or a linear motor subway might cause less starry eyes, but they are no less modern and make much more sense.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Maglev has significant potential advantages by the reduced friction

Actually, while mechanical friction is reduced, a larger magnetic friction takes its stead.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:11:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you really expect anything but big corruption scandals when the new government sells at a very low price state assets to their friends?
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 01:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For fairness, note that 430 km/h reached on 40 km and 350 km/h reached on 200 km is comparing apples and oranges. Maglev could easily reach speeds above 500 km/h over longer distances, while a top speed of at most 250 km/h is realistic for normal rail airport shuttles over such short distances [though 350 is technically possible].

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:30:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it really shines when considering intercontinental routes in evacuated tubes. Maglev systems can then beat supersonic jets by a wide margin.

But (as usual), this is out of reach because of cost, which is to say the cost of things, which is to say, in large measure, the cost of making things. We're still very bad at that.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:43:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it really shines when considering intercontinental routes in evacuated tubes. Maglev systems can then beat supersonic jets by a wide margin.

Could you bring more on that? I have the faint memory of there being some upper limit to maglev speed, which is under that of pneumatic tube railway, but maybe it was only due to air drag.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 03:55:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Time-sharing' is a very interesting concept that got me thinking. Thanks.

Rail tracks and the surrounding area could be thought of as 'not in use' most of the time. Even a busy network like the London Underground means that all trains only "cover" a section of track for a few dozen seconds each day.

So this is underused dedicated space, like the roofs of factories or car parks at night or (supply your own). Some innovative thinking should go into potential synergy energy.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 11:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oddly enough - David Cameron, and his starry-eyed shadow transport minister (whose name I have forgotten) have been talking up a UK Maglev project for the proposed London/Scotland high speed line.

It's no less silly here it would be elsewhere. A conventional TGV - or better, a Northern extension to the Channel Tunnel line - makes a lot more sense.

Meanwhile New Scientist has been reporting the imminent arrival of room temperature superconductors for a while - but obviously they're still not here yet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 07:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the northern British high-speed line saga... this is something infamous in railway circles. Especially after someone decided that it shall be done one the cheap by four-tracking and upgrading the West Coast Mainline, but upgrade proved much more complicated and expensive than foreseen... in fact so much so that a new line would have been cheaper. Expect another decade of the idea being tossed around, and only then another ten years of squabbling with locals about the route, before any earth is moved... if at all.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:41:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK and railways... Who was saying what about early adopters?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:42:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New surface routes have large costs (in real terms, to say nothing of money) because they must displace whatever is there now. Tunnels, of course, avoid this cost, and also avoid noise along rights of way, scars through ecosytems, many potential accidents, and so on.

But (as usual), this is out of reach because of cost, which is to say the cost of things, which is to say, in large measure, the cost of making things. We're still very bad at that.

(Gee, I could repeat this in so many contexts...)

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:47:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does research in superconductivity have any potential to change any of the equations being considered?  Or is that already being used?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:13:41 PM EST
High-temperature superconductors are generally considered to be those that demonstrate superconductivity at or above the temperature of liquid nitrogen, or −196 °C (77 K), since this is the most easily attainable cryogenic temperature.
If you need to cool the track with liquid nitrogen, I'm afraid it's not a practical technology. this side of the asteroid belt.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:17:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The killer app is, of course, the Uranus Ring Express.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially after a good Vindaloo...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, wouldnt only the magnets have to be cooled? And they have gotten superconductors up to 177K according to that link. Not saying it would be very practical, just questioning whether it is completely off the table. (Not that I consider the asteorid belt to be the limit for that, as we are fast approaching a level of robotics where asteorids could be remotely mined. But that is a digression I guess.)
by Trond Ove on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:31:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mention the asteroid belt not because I want to mine it, but because outside it there are actually worlds with atmospheres and oceans where these temperatures are ambient temperatures.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 12:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, different perspectives...
by Trond Ove on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 01:04:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If all you want is a low equilibrium temperature, in free space it suffices to have a good-quality sunshade. In the shadow, objects get negligible heating and radiate into the heat sink of interstellar space. (The heat capacity of vacuum is pretty good, per cubic lightyear.)

Of course, the T^4 dependence of black body radiation makes the radiated power damn small at low temperatures.  It's about 460 W/m^2 around room temperature (300 K), but only 2 W/m^2 at the boiling point of nitrogen (77 K).

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 02:35:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hooooweeee!

I approach the arcane as Schumaker approaches a chicane - seeking a safe line through, but at the same time aware of the possibilities for mischief against my competitors.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 06:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC, the superconductivity of these materials breaks down when the magnetic field reaches a certain intensity. Also, the materials themselves are exceedingly brittle, and technologies for using them in real-world applications are still in the laboratory stage.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 04:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The high-Tc materials can tolerate quite high magnetic fields, but problems including brittleness have indeed kept them from creeping out of the laboratory more than a very little.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:50:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this more train blogging? Time to consider steam-powered maglev...

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 02:41:17 PM EST
It's important to factor in fuel costs for these high speed train systems. While the drag of steel wheels on steel rail is pretty low, it's still present, and it takes a lot of power to overcome it at 500 km/h. Is there an energy use comparison handy?
by asdf on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 10:54:54 PM EST
Energy use still isn't very important here as the trains consume electricity, not oil. Just build another nuclear reactor or thirty massive wind farms.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How massive is massive?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
160 MW.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As in EPR 1600 MW, 90 % capacity factor and Horns rev 160 MW, 30 % capacity factor (I guessed that capacity factor but it sounds probable).

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With that capacity, you could run 25 trains at the same time, a bit too much for a single line of 100 km.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:03:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, how big of a network can you service with 25 trains? That's the "rail-network equivalent" of a nuclear power plant.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:10:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, so let's say 4800MW @ 30% capacity factor. A windfarm providing 4800 MW nominal takes up a field 9 Km in radius.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 06:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At 160 MW Horns rev is the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, which makes it massive in my mind. You need 30 Horns rev to get the 25 train "rail-network equivalent" (great word!).

Or do you?

It sounds strange. I mean a TGV consumes about 10 MW. 30 Horns rev should be able to propel about 160 TGV's. And that can't be equal to 25 Maglev trains.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 07:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At 160 MW Horns rev is the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, which makes it massive in my mind.

Actually, Horns Rev is kind of a pilot plant, and not that big compared to planned full-scale parks, which could reach 1000 MW capacity. (And it is not the biggest even of those operating, although Nysted bests it only by 5.6 MW.) Thus it shall come as no surprise that there are US wind farms on land that are bigger, the biggest 662 MW.

That can't be equal to 25 Maglev trains.

The 25 number was for normal high-speed trains, and it was my error to apply a capacity factor twice... you could make that 200 trains, given that the ICE-3 maximum power is 8 MW (The TGV is 10% higher), or even more if you contemplate that they don't use maximum power except during acceleration and climbing grades, and feed back power on descent and during braking.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:25:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, so you need 30MW nominal power to run a TGV or ICE on wind. That's a windfarm 750m in radius. If you want to have one train in each direction every half hour, you will have one train on every 75Km of track. So a 750m-radius windfarm for each 75Km of track... Doesn't seem that bad.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or to put it another way, one 3 MW windmill for every 7,5 km of track. Or one EPR for every 12.000 km of track.

Anyway, the bottom line is that trains are incredibly energy efficient and should be used wherever possible.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:44:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to have one train in each direction every half hour, you will have one train on every 75Km of track. So a 750m-radius windfarm for each 75Km of track...

I don't see the logic of this calculation. (And you forgot about acceleration/deceleration.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I assumed an average speed of 300 Km/h, and one train every 30 minutes. You have one train passing each point every 15 minutes, in either direction. So each 75 Km of track contain one train. So you get 7.5 Km per MW.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 09:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, trains travelling in opposite directions don't travel along the same track and don't 'follow' each other in 15 minutes (the time will depend on the location...), you could just have ignored directions. Or said that there are two trains on 150 km of line (= two parallel tracks). But due to acceleration/deceleration, I didn't calculate with top speed but just took 100 km, which is also a reasonable distance between stations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:14:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, two tracks per line.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:16:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So with 25% capacity factor (more typical on land) and two 10MW trains, you have to place a 2MW turbine every 2.5 kilometres along the high-speed line. If there would be no constraints due to built-up areas, natural reserves, wind potential and non-rail-related wind farms within half a kilometre of the line, you could have five times as much.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:22:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many passengers can this 10MW TGV carry, and what is the average speed, compared with power, capacity and average speed of a typical airliner?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 10:06:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this a serious question, or are you prodding me? :-)

10 MW was a theoretical number, all actual TGVs (unless you count the Eurostar as TGV) are a bit less. 400 passengers per modern European high-speed train (standardised 200 m length) could be considered a norm. The newer of the normal TGV derivatives (with their traction heads at both ends taking up place) have 377 seats, the double-deck TGV Duplex has 512.

Average speed depends on the distance travelled, and slow sections (for example connecting line into a major city) encountered. The TGV currently holds the start-to-stop average speed record (some Lyon--Aix-en-Provence schedules) at 263.3 km/h, but a typical average speed between high-speed line stations in Europe would be still somewhat under 200 km/h.

For an airliner, I don't know what's typical, but taking comparable capacity, let's look at an Airbus A340-600: 380-419 seats, and four engines of 249-267 kN maximum thrust each. Assuming a rule-of-the-thumb cruise speed of 900 km/h=250 m/s with a quarter of maximum thrust, I get around 65 MW.

Average speed remains, but I don't know much statistical data about that, I guess you have to ask frequent-flier Jérôme or rely on your experinece (sorry  I flew only three times in my life). For the comparison to make sense, you would have to include not just ascent and descent, but time on the taxiway and the check-in, maybe even travel from the city centre (though if you arrive with train in the city centre, often you have to travel too, so the difference is again not clear). But just from the stomach, an example: Frankfurt/M-Paris, an air distance of about 450 km, the time between departure and arrival (is that the time between boarding and exiting the plane?) is 1h10m-1h20m, let's assume 40-50m for check-in resp. check-out, and 30m extra for travel into the cities at both ends, gives an average of about 180 km/h.

BTW, just found this image of an A380 formation flight on the Airbus site:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 11:20:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note the 3-hour radius is usually considered the limit where high-speed rail beats air, so around 600 km.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 11:21:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you adding the "arrive at the airport 2h in advance" and "wait for your luggage for 1h" plus the commute time to and from the airport to the "3h radius"?

And yes, that was a serious question. 65MW? You could have 6 TGVs for that "price".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 11:34:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 3-hour radius I mentioned is for trains, I surmise the time additions you list for planes are what make the same distance 3 hours or more for planes. (BTW, there are some relationships of 4 hours or longer where rail's share beats air's.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 02:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reading this to mean that it is possible to (a great extent-80%+) run a (high speed) rail network with one of these every two and a half kilometres.

I assume this only applies in non-built up areas, but have I got this about right--Europe (or anywhere) could plant these windmills every two or three km along its rail tracks and have a large part of its rail infastructure powered by wind?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 05:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tecnically I guess the answer is yes, but it would be a much better idea to build the wind machines where the wind conditions are optimal and not along the rail track.

Or build an EPR. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 07:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With weather what it is, there seem to be few sites where huge wind farms can guarantee wind (tell me I've got this wrong); but if a grid of windwills was laid out along railway lines (motorways, canals, etc), snaking across Europe (and beyond), whither the wind blew would hit enough of 'em, no?....at times of reduced (train) activity power could be fed back into the grid.

A high speed international rail network run on nothing more offensive, polluting, or dangerous than windmills.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 07:42:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also (and please tell me where I'm going wrong), it would be a HUGE project employing many many engineers, companies, construction workers, etc...--helping them leap out of the oil business--not to mention materials design, structural design, and as the project developed new features, better equipment etc. would be brought on line.  It's what happened with cars, I think, and so (leaping wildly) would change our social nexuses (nexi?) at the same level.

(Facilities growing up around the windmills...new towns linked to renewable energy...transport to the next windmill guaranteed....)

A european project tying together the various groups in Europe (I think I'm still on topic), reducing emissions, creating better public transport, reducing plane travel, tying us physically to our neighbours (psychological difference between a journey on train and a journey by car or air)...

(So many technical issues to solve.  Massive injections of finance to universities, a boom in post-graduate work...)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 08:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There must be somewhere, but without even looking at it, I can say conventional high-speed uses multiple times the energy of Maglev. However, operation costs are only a small part of total costs for both, the construction costs (resp. interests and depreciation) dominate for both.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
conventional high-speed uses multiple times the energy of Maglev

Actually: no. I must have remembered the numbers for an earlier prototype, which was rather short and slower. But here some ad-hoc numbers for roughly comparable-capacity trains: the currently crashed TR-08 prototype, a five-car train, needs 4,573 kW to travel at a constant speed of 300 km/h on flat terrain. For an ICE-3 high-speed train, the corresponding value is a bit under 6000 kW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 07:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a bit under 6000 kW.

Should have been: a bit under 6400 kW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 08:54:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked  a few pages on energy use, but there is no clear picture.

The builders quote a very favorable comparison with a German high-speed train, but the problem is that they did so without considering a commercial seating in the Transrapid. Note that the maglev also needs electricity to keep the trains afloat, not just for propulsion -- hence more realistic estimates put maglev and normal high-speed about level in long-distance operation, albeit with the maglev going faster. On shorter distances or with many stops, the maglev even consumes significantly more, as I found in a calculation regarding the now killed Metrorapid project.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 05:59:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the FAZ:

26. September 2006
,,Jemand im Zug" hat den Transrapid in Lathen in Bewegung gesetzt, obwohl - so Staatsanwalt Alexander Retemeyer - der Zugführer den Werkstattwagen auf der Strecke, ,,so groß wie ein Scheunentor", hätte sehen müssen. Vorher hatte indes der Leitstand die Fahrt freigegeben, obwohl sie durch mehrere Vorkehrungen hätte erkennen müssen, daß der Reinigungswagen noch auf der Hochtrasse stand. Die Staatsanwaltschaft in Osnabrück ermittelt daher gegen alle für die Fahrt Verantwortlichen.
26. September 2006
"Someone on the train" set the Transrapid in Lathen in motion, even though - according to state prosecutor Alexander Retemeyer - the engineer ought to have seen the maintenance car - "big as a barn door" - on the track. Previously, however, the control center had cleared the trip, although on account of multiple safety mechanisms and precautions they ought to have recognized that the cleaning vehicle was still on the overhead track. The state prosecutor in Osnabrück is thus investigating charges against all persons responsible for the trip.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 04:28:15 AM EST
Thanks to whichever fellow gnome -- having noticed Colman's front-page story just posted before 16h, I just wanted to ask whether I could promote my diary before the Evening thread...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:26:12 AM EST
That was me ... thinking of something else at time or I'd have taken <q>credit</q>. I sort of aim for four stories a day if we can pull it off...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:27:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can always post a story after the evening thread and bump the evening thread up.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 27th, 2006 at 10:28:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another dimension to this is our demand for speed. Why is it so important to go so fast? A conventional train that terminates in the city center eliminates the commute to the airport, and weather-related delays are fewer with trains, so the average total trip time should be about the same for many routes even if the top speed isn't so high.

I was reminded recently that during the Second World War, the national speed limit in the U.S. was 35 MPH. You can go a long way in a day at 35 MPH...

by asdf on Thu Sep 28th, 2006 at 09:55:53 AM EST


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