This technology was developed in Great Britain and Germany that build prototypes of such trains. In Great Britain the Maglev train traveled between Airport Birmingham and railway station (a distance of 600 meter) from 1984 until 1995. In Germany they commissioned a Maglev line of 1.6 km long in West Berlin in 1989 on the basis of an idle metro highline. The project became a victim of the Cold War and collapsed together with the Berlin Wall. The reunification of the country resulted in abrupt increase of passenger traffic. On July 18, 1991 the line started being employed commercially and was integrated into the Berlin metro system. But after 13 days on July 31, 1991 the Berlin Municipal Authorities made a decision to dismantle the Maglev line and restore usual metro line. On September 17 the Maglev line was dismantled. The Berlin Maglev train was in commercial use only for 30 days.
The Chinese Maglev train travels between Airport of Badun and Shanghai metro station “Lunyan Lu”. This line holds a record of length and speed. Chinese “Airport Express” covers 30 km at a speed of 431 km/h. It runs only 7 minutes. The transport system was commissioned in January 2003.
The evident success in the use of the Maglev trains was not overshadowed even by annoying accidents (fire in the train on August 11, 2006) and became a preface to a decision to extend the Maglev line to old Shanghai airport Hongqiao and further to the City of Hangzhou. This line will be 175 km long. A highline construction was completed in 2007. Currently line equipment installation is in progress. The new line should be commissioned in 2010 for Expo-2010.
Besides this decision, an indigenous Chinese-design Maglev project was launched in 2007. The speed of this Maglev train is expected to be 500 km/h. The Chinese developers are going to implement new solutions in the traction system and movement control system. The final goal of the project is to build several Maglev lines in the most populated areas of China: the mouth of the Yangtze River, and large northern cities: Beijing, Tianjing and Province Hubei.
Japan is also involved in development of the Maglev trains. In 2005, a 9-km long Linimo line in Nagoya was commissioned for Expo-2005 to serve visitors of the exhibition. However, this line is not only shorter than the Chinese one, its train speed does not exceed 100 km/h. Japan is currently testing a JR-Maglev technology train that will run at 581 km/h.
Japan was one of pioneers in development of the high-speed passenger trains, and now lays a claim to become a leader in the new transport technology. However, China is likely to keep its leadership in development of the Maglev trains both in terms of their speed and in terms of the commercial line length.
Due to the fact that China became a leader in implementation of the Maglev technology, the SCO countries have a unique chance to be involved in development of this transport system. Independent R&D works in this sphere are too expensive for other SCO member-states including Russia. However, construction of Maglev lines in the SCO countries in cooperation with Chinese companies, and by using the Chinese technologies and investments is quite feasible. The first Maglev lines may be built as per the usual pattern: between airports and traffic centers in large cities.
The Maglev train even in Russia looks like a fantastic machine rather than a real one. Its implementation will cost big money. However, Maglev line construction for the SCO countries in cooperation with China opens opportunities to master new technology, train skilled human resources, accumulate experience in the use of similar system with less expenses.
The cooperation with SCO countries is also beneficial for China because this technology may be tested in various climatic conditions (that is necessary for replication of the technology for other countries). Besides, it opens prospects for employing Russian scientists and R&D centers.
Implementation of such scientific and technological projects similar to the Maglev technology, is necessary for the SCO because this organization cannot exist as an intergovernmental commercial and economical structure only. The SCO should provide basis for future progress of its member-states, for new prospects and development of new technologies.