One trend in transportation that may have a major affect on the future is the Maglev (magnetic levitation) train. This technology uses magnetism to levitate and propel the train and trains can travel at 350mph or more
(Halal, 2008). The jury is still out on whether the technology will succeed. China has installed maglev trains successfully and other countries are considering installing them. The technology costs about $50 to $75 million per mile which is expensive and so some countries are cancelling their plans and reverting back to traditional high speed rail. The energy required to operate both traditional rail and maglev are similar since most of the energy is used to overcome air resistance.
|Magnetic Levitation Train|
The forces that are in play for Maglev trains are economics and convenience. Economically even though they are more costly to build, they are far cheaper to maintain and operate. This is because traditional rail uses wheels with bearings that wear out and tracks that experience wear and tear. If government and private industry is able to look beyond short term expense and concentrate on long term costs, the maglev trains will succeed economically. Convenience is an important factor on whether a technology will succeed and, in this case, the maglev trains are faster than conventional trains. When installed in places where speed is a factor such as between two towns or a town and an airport, maglev trains will be well received by the busy public.
Halal, W. E. (2008). Technology's Promise. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.