Wednesday, January 06, 2010

B’lore to choose Gen-Next rail?

B’lore to choose Gen-Next rail?
Bangalore, Jan 5, DH News Service :

As the Namma Metro project begins to shroud the City with its elevated pillars, in the next five years the Gen-Next rail system will already be in place for Bangalore to choose.


Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) rail service, a Gen-Next design, already running in Shanghai, China, is now all set to be ‘demonstrated’ in the United States for commercial usage. General Atomic, a US-based firm dealing in Maglev projects, had proposed this technology for the High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA), but it was not considered.

“We had shown our interest for the HSRL project under the same design, but no reply was given to us,” said Mandyam Venkatesh, member of the Special Projects Committee, General Atomic.

Incidentally, General Atomic has been testing Magnetic Levitation and has bagged a contract to build a 1.6 mile rail line for a University campus in the US. This will be up and running in 2013.

Delivering a talk at the Institute of Engineers here, Venkatesh, an Indian American said, while the design is one which will have a major demand world over in the near future, the only glitch is that of the capital investment.

“The investment in the Maglev rail project is three times more than that of hard rail. It will cost anywhere in the range of 125 million dollars/mile as compared to hard rail that costs 7-8 million dollars/mile,” he said.

Levitation theory

Maglev rail system is one which runs on a levitation theory. The rail coach chassis will have magnets attached to it and shall run on concrete bars with copper conductors embedded in them. While the initial cost is supposed to be high, it can cut down the expenditure on maintenance drastically.

“As far as General Atomic, a US Federal Government funded company, the approximate age for our rail system is 50 years,” said Venkatesh. After 50 years, the concrete rails can be replaced with newer conductors and magnets replaced on the rail coaches.

While the current Maglev rail system for commercial purpose is placed at 430 km/hour with electromagnets that ‘re-energises’ with the use of electric current, the normal Maglev rail system with ordinary magnets and no electricity can run upto a speed of 160km/hour. “The only time electricity is needed is during its propulsion, where the initial thrust has to be given to the train,” said the engineer.

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