[LETTERS to the editor]Levitation clarification

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[LETTERS to the editor]Levitation clarification

“Addicted to speed” [Fountain, Nov. 28] has a seriously deceptive error that needs to be corrected.

The author wrote: “The world’s fastest passenger rail service, Alstom’s TGV Est, runs between Paris and Strasbourg at a top speed of 575 kilometers per hour (357 miles per hour). With its successful debut in April 2007, the upgraded French bullet train outshined its competitors, ICE of Germany and Shinkansen of Japan.”

The Alstrom ONLY ran at that speed for one trial run. That trial run used a very special train set that cannot be used in normal passenger service. In fact, that test run was done on a very straight short stretch with a slight downhill grade.

“Originally the sets were built to run at 270 km/h (168 mph) but most were upgraded to 300 km/h (186 mph).”

Second point: He states that maglev cannot be used for freight transit. That is false. Los Angeles is currently planning the construction of a maglev shipping line at the port.

Also, he states: “But at that time it ran on the maglev system, which is impractical for commercial use due to engine overheating and weight problems.”

Where did he get that fact? Japan is currently planning to replace their Shinkansen to all maglev and is starting the first line.

Don Gallagher, Houston, TX



Editor’s note:

The author conveys deep appreciation for Mr. Gallagher’s kind concern and correction. The Alstrom test run was carried out with only three cars pulled by a special locomotive developed for the test. And as you indicated, the test run was made on a newly built straight stretch.

The supplementary comment about the maglev system was added to explain the difference in conventional high speed rail and maglev trains. Although maglev trains have been commercialized in some areas like Shanghai, they are still deemed lacking practicality due to the cost, as it solely depends on electric power and requiring a special rail system. The comment was not aimed to claim superiority of high speed rail over maglev trains but was made on grounds of practicality.


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