Statics: Equilibrium

Magnetic float train

Fig. 1-11: A magnetic float train

Fig. 1-11 shows the first commercial friction-free magnetic 'float' train, which operates between Shanghai City and Pudong Airport. The floating train can reach speeds in excess of 270mph. The train, with magnets under the cars, 'floats' above a sophisticated electromagnetic track in the same way that the axi-symmetric object 'floats' above the base unit in the demonstration in Section 1.3.4. The weight of the train (external force) is balanced by magnetic forces (reaction forces) generated between the magnets in the cars and the track. Since no friction is generated between the external and reaction forces, much smaller tractive forces are required to propel the train than would normally be the case.

Float trains have also run in the UK on a prototype route between Birmingham Airport and a nearby train station, but they were eventually abandoned in 1995 because of reliability problems.