Abandoned Maglev Train Is Proof That Hitting 260 MPH Sometimes Isn't Enough

Mankind has been obsessed with speed ever since the horse carriage was invented. Come 2022, and we have quite a few supercars that can hit the magical 300-mph (483-kph) mark. The same goes for trains, which are known to reach similar speeds when using the right technology. The maglev train is one of them.
abandoned maglev train in Emsland, Germany 7 photos
Photo: HD1080ide/YouTube
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Using magnets to levitate the train above the track, thus reducing friction and allowing higher speeds, maglev (magnetic levitation) technology has been researched since the early 1900s. The first commercial maglev train took its maiden voyage as an airport shuttle in 1984, but the technology has since expanded and it's still being used in China and Japan.

Germany was one of the first European countries to introduce the technology when a short track was opened in Hamburg for the 1979 International Transportation Exhibition. The train was developed by Transrapid, the company that went on to build a testing facility in Emsland.

Completed in 1984, it included a 31.5-km (19.5-mile) track that enabled maglev trains to hit up to 261 mph (420 kph). That's nowhere near as quick as the Japanese L0 version that reached 375 mph (603 kph) in 2015, but it was still entertaining to the passengers that were allowed to ride in it from time to time.

Unfortunately, these rides came to an abrupt end in 2006, when 23 people were killed after a train hit a maintenance vehicle on the track. Both the track and the factory were closed off in 2011 when Transrapid's operation license expired.

In early 2012, the German government approved the demolition and reconversion of the Emsland site. But while work began around 2016, most of the concrete structures are still standing. And according to the footage below, the testing facility is still home to a maglev train.

While recently released by YouTube's "HD1080ide," the footage is actually from 2020, so it's unclear whether the train is still there as we speak. But it's still a sad sight and proof that sometimes making an innovative product isn't enough to thrive.

Fortunately, the maglev system continues to expand, with new tracks set to be built in various parts of the world. And more importantly, the 2006 crash at Emsland was the first and last maglev incident to result in fatalities.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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