A 267 mph ride on the Shanghai maglev train

[Video Link] Lori Cuthbert, editor-in-chief of Discovery News, shot a video of her recent ride on the Shanghai maglev train, which has a top speed of 270 mph. You can't really tell how fast it's going by watching the scenery move by outside the window, but the passengers' delighted giggles make it clear they are enjoying the high-speed ride. (Via Doobybrain)


  1. If this is the maglev that goes from the airport into the city, it has a speedometer readout in each cabin

  2. ….and a cool thing to do is to try and keep an eye out for the train coming the opposite direction at the same speed. blink and you’ll miss it!

  3. Having to convert kmh to mph is surely increasingly embarrassing for those few countries (3 – Liberia, Myanmar and USA) that still work with mph. Similar to the  few that illogically and confusingly put the day in between the month and year when writing a numeric date.

    1. Hahaha, I like the way Americans often assume that countries that don’t use the Metric system must use the Imperial one. Liberia does, due to it’s historical ties to the US, but Myanmar has its very own set of anachronistic units.

      1. This may be because Burmese government entities do, in fact, use imperial units like miles and square feet in some contexts — in addition to Burmese and metric units. Having the Brits in town leaves its traces…

        (Also, the UK is now officially metric. Which doesn’t mean that Brits don’t still compare themselves to stones or other weird things but you can do all your shopping in metric, for such is the law of the land.)

        1. No, our roads are still officially Imperial. It’s not just miles- shorter distances are measured in yards (look at the fire exit signs the next time you’re in a tunnel). On the other hand, petrol is sold in litres, which makes talking about car fuel economy confusing as everyone still talks in terms of miles per Imperial gallon (which is bigger than a US gallon).

          Beer (and cider) and milk are sold in pints, all other liquids are sold in litres.

          Oh, and British railways are also officially Imperial- but the subdivision of a mile used there is the “chain”- 66 feet, 22 yards, 1/10 of a furlong or one cricket pitch.

    2.  just pointing out that in speech, intoning the date as “May second, 2012” over “the second of May, 2012” is more economical by two words/syllables.  so there.

  4. Uhm, what do you mean ”
    You can’t really tell how fast it’s going by watching the scenery move by outside the window”? Those stationary lightposts looked to be flying by!! Also, how come the US doesn’t have trains like this? ( he asked knowingly….)

  5. Wait wait wait.

    If the total distance is only 19 miles, how the hell does that train get up to 270mph? That would be a total travel time of about *4 minutes* at speed – how would that train have enough time to get up to 270mph and then slow back down in such a short distance? Crazy!

    1. This isn’t exactly intended as a practical or economically feasible mode of transport. It’s a heavily subsidized proof of concept (and the only actual implementation so far) of the stillborn German Transrapid maglev technology — and a colossal waste of energy. If you want economically successful and viable, look no further than the TGV in France, ICE in Germany and Nozomi Shinkansen in Japan, all of which regularly hit 250-300 kph (320 for TGV); still twice as fast as a car on long-distance journeys. TGV set a world record at >570 kph (>350 mph) — on more or less standard tracks, not maglev. Still cheaper than that Transrapid fiasco but ultimately impractical and cost-prohibitive.

      1.  That may well be, but I’m not talking feasability/etc. – I’m talking pure math/physics I guess. Though looking at the bits of the video again where the speed of the train is tracked, I suppose it has the acceleration to make it up to that high speed at least for a bit before it has to begin slowing down again because of the rather short total distance. Phew!

        1. Well, yeah… throw enough (German taxpayer) money at it and nothing is impossible I guess… ;-)

          1. Yeah well the Autobahn is the same deal – accelerate to top speed for a couple mile then slow down and get behind a truck. 

        2. Okay… for a better sense of how fast this thing goes, see this real-time video: 

          Reaches 430 kph at about 3:30, slows down to less than 400 kph not even a minute later. So that top speed is for bragging rights only, no practical reason at all.

      2.  Actually, it’s a far better use of energy than the ICE or the TGV.
        Or even than flying – you can get quite a lot of the energy used for acceleration back. And it’s certainly a lot faster (factoring in the wait for security etc.) than flying, too.

        1. Yeah… if you didn’t need elevated(!) tracks with incredibly precise tolerances that can’t be used for any other trains.

          There’s a reason this thing is a pipe dream (but what an incredibly exciting one!) without any real-world use case scenario.

          Edit: the “waste of energy” is the ridiculous and impractical top speeds (air resistance etc.); the _only_ purported reason for this technology, as can be seen in the Shanghai example where there is zero reason for this thing t0 accelerate to 430 kph.

          1.  That’s also true for the all TGV- and a number of ICE-Tracks. They are all single-purpose builds.

            And elevated tracks make a LOT of sense, imho – you definitely don’t want a cow or a deer – or a human! – colliding with the train while it’s going 500 km/h.

            The “real-world usecase scenario” would be very long transit-tracks, for example Intercity-connections in the US or China, or any other county with relatively large distances between major cities. (So no – Germany would indeed not be on the list of “real-world usecase scenarios”)

  6. Sigh… I’d enjoy this more if it wasn’t yet another in-your-face reminder of how far behind the USA is behind other nations.  I wonder how many of those people were hauling ass to a doctors office to get proper medical care as well?


    1. Despite all its achievements over the past century, the USA is behind because it doesn’t have one 30km airport maglev?

      1. the USA is behind because it doesn’t have one 30km airport maglev?

        Oversimplification of my points will get you nowhere with me.

        Try reading this and educate yourself: 

        We are behind in public transportation, etc.

        You also managed to skim over the fact the USA still doesn’t have a single payer system for health care which puts us behind every other industrialized nation.

        It’s not just the maglev, honey.

        1. Thanks, I live in Japan so I’m somewhat familiar with the awesomeness of fast trains in small, densely-populated landmasses. Given the choice though, I’ll still take American progress over Chinese healthcare, Japanese work culture and European bankruptcy.

          1. I’ll still take American progress over Chinese healthcare

            ??? Not sure why you think that’s your choices, but… ok…

            European bankruptcy

            You may not have heard this over in Japan, but the USA is in what many call the second Great Depression or at least the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Or, as an idiot like Ann Coulter would say, “thing are going swimmingly” over here.

            As a matter of fact, the miserable economy in the USA has very likely contributed to the slowdowns in other countries in Europe as well.

            Japanese work culture

            Corporate America is no thrillfest either. Right now some scumbag corporate tools are demanding employee (or just potential employees) to hand over their Facebook passwords, etc. so they can snoop on them.

            American corporations will keep overqualified people locked into lower paying jobs because of the fear of losing health insurance due to preexisting conditions or otherwise.

            I’m not saying every country is better than the USA in every way, so please spare me the hyperbole, but the USA is definitely slinking behind in ways that I, nor many other Americans, are comfortable with.

    2.  Not just the USA – I have the same feeling when I come home to the UK after travelling to the South of France by train – a quick, comfortable, amazing experience once you leave London. Coming home, the last leg on the cramped, slow, overpriced excuse for a train we have to put up with here is a real downer.

    1. I once had the dubious honor to ride a modded BMW that topped out around 300 kmh….. No matter how big the car is, you feel VERY vulnerable when all the other traffic (going 130 to 180kmh) seem like immobile obstacles.

      1. True, I have a pretty powerful car (Audi A3 2.0 TDI Sportback) and completely understand what you’re trying to say and do agree with you. 

        But again, what I’m trying to say is that times have come when you can compare a *car* with a “magnetic levitation train”.

        Do you know that Bugatti Veyron can stop from 200kmh/124mph to standstill in 4 seconds. Even more Bugatti claims it can break from 400kmh/250mph to standstill under 10 seconds. Of course distance it will cross during this time is half a kilometer (1/3 mile).

        Putting all that aside, what I’m trying to say is that a *car* can go at same speed and even stop faster/shorter distance then a “magnetic levitation train”. 

  7.  i’m facepalming that an educated, professional woman who is at least in part a video blogger did not have the sense to point her iphone perpendicular to the track at least part of the time.  were we not all tiny children when we first noticed the phenomenon of seeing the scale of speed that way?

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