Maglev or Magnetic Levitation trains are not a new idea. The first Maglev train was invented in 1902 requiring many years for its eventual development. The idea during the earlier days of the 20th century was that a train would levitate just about the track through the use of powerful magnets to keep it afloat.
Considered a futuristic idea for its time, the invention of the train by Alfred Zehden was awarded its first patent in 1905. Many scientists around the globe were working on the same idea but it was Zehden’s that is credited with the invention of the Maglev.
From 1905 onwards, there was a mad dash of global engineers trying to create the first working model linear motor that would bring this idea closer to reality. It took nearly 40 years for that modeled motor to become a reality. In 1940, Eric Laithwaite was credited with building the first full size working model of a linear motor. He continued his work throughout his career until the 1970’s.
Mr. Laithwaite is also credited with designing a linear motor that allowed for both lift and forward movement at the end of his career. His “transverse flux” system was used in the first Maglev train in England which debuted in Birmingham England in 1984.
The first Maglev was built between Birmingham Airport and the Birmingham Rail System. The train had a top speed of about 26 miles per hour. It was shut down around a decade later because of “reliability issues” according to authorities.
Japan has been the most successful in creating and using their Maglev system. They have over the years since 1979 used various Maglev trains as people carriers. Some of their designs have reached speeds of 260MPH. They recently (2014) have announced a new Maglev technology that they will be implementing and that they are willing to sell to other countries.
The Japanese will be revealing their “super fast” Maglev from Tokyo to Osaka sometime in 2014. In the United States, adequate support has not been given for this technology due to many citizens finding it to be expensive in cost. Proponents of the Maglev claim the overall cost savings can be found in the future reduction of environmental harm.