Freight maglev study
24 Nov 2008
USA: Despite a conspicuous lack of progress in developing maglev for the passenger sector, it seems that North America remains fixated with the concept.
We hear that Union Pacific has commissioned Skytech Transportation and American Maglev Technology to develop a feasibility study for an 8 km maglev line to carry freight. UP is planning to double the capacity of its Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in Long Beach to 1·5 million TEUs a year, bringing the prospect of even more drayage trucks shuttling containers to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
It's more of a shuttle thing, but it would be interesting to see it built. I also found a follow-up story, which is a bit more recent:
Freight maglev on test
The General Atomics test track uses passive maglev technology. (Photo: David Lustig)
09 Feb 2009
USA: We reported last year that Union Pacific had commissioned a study into an 8 km maglev conveyor to shuttle containers between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and its Intermodal Container Transfer Facility.
Suitable technology is now under development in San Diego, where General Atomics has built a 120 m long test track. Unlike the Transrapid maglev in Shanghai, which uses electromagnets on the vehicles to achieve lift and linear motors for propulsion, General Atomics has adopted a passive technology, with the equipment in the guideway.
According to Sam Gurol, the company’s Director of Maglev Systems, ‘there have been great strides in the last 15 to 20 years in how much magnetic field permanent magnets can produce, allowing us to make a system entirely of passive permanent magnets for both levitation and propulsion.’
This avoids the need for an onboard power supply. ‘You have the moving magnetic field produced by the track, and the chassis just goes along for the ride.’
Sounds like a very creative idea to me, hope they find it worth it. I suppose they could also opt for standard tracks, possibly even driver-less.