Similar technology is at the moment being researched in both Swizerland and the USA. Theoretically the trains could reach speeds of up to 20,000 km/h. This is over 16 times the speed of sound, an unimaginable velocity. Realistically however there is no application for such vast velocities.
The fastest any actual maglev train has ever run was 581 km/h, a record set in Japan in 2003.
There have been speculations about a theoretical transatlantic tunnel using this kind of technology. It is estimated that the train would spend 1/3 of the trip accelerating, 1/3 at peak speed, and a 1/3 decelerating because anything else would be uncomfortable or dangerous to passengers. The total time for the trip would be just under an hour and the highest possible speed is 5,000 km/h. Still many times faster than airplanes, although it shows that speeds of 20,000 km/h are unpractical.
|A meglev train is coming out of the Pudong International Airport. (Credit: Alex Needham)|