Your report that a north-south maglev line would be much cheaper than conventional rail (NCE last week) is another example of proponents of new technology making unsubstantiated and misleading claims.
The reason given is that maglev can handle gradients of 10%. So it can, but this ignores the extreme limitations of hog and sag vertical curve radius to allow for its very high speeds.
To achieve the maximum speed of 500km/hr requires a minimum horizontal curve radius of over 4km. The benefits of being able to achieve 10% gradient then pale into insignificance.
The French TGV costs in the region of £8M to £10M per km, the Japanese Shinkansen between £25M and £50M per km, and the Shanghai Maglev line £24M per km. The Chinese government considered all three options for their high speed railways but have decided against further maglevs because they are too expensive.
It has also been reported that there are some serious technical problems with the Shanghai Maglev.
We could save a lot of time and money if we decide now to adopt conventional high-speed train technology as exploited so successfully in France.
Tony Young, Tony Young Consultancy, 10 Little Flatt, Spotland, Rochdale OL12 7AU