The maglev (magnetic levitation) is known for hovering, however not even the maglev can manage levitation over a distance of 7,698 km… unless it hitches a ride or, in this case, a flight on one of the world’s most well-known flying workhorses: the AN-124-100.
And since solo-travel gets a little mundane, the two Max Bögl TSB maglev train sections flew as a pair early JUN20, from Munich, Germany, to Chengdu, China, stopping en route in Almaty, Kazakhstan for refueling and crew rest.
Tailored load planning required
Comparatively “light weight” high-tech trains, weighing in at a total payload of roughly 36 tons (just over a fifth of the weight that an Antonov AN-124-100 “Ruslan” can actually carry), each section measured 12.6 x 2.8 x 3.7 m. Such large pieces are not everyday freight and require specific load planning. First for the road transport from the Max Bögl group headquarters in Sengenthal to Munich Airport, which was carried out by KN Airlift GmbH, and then for maneuvering the train sections into and out of the plane.
Antonov Airlines deployed specially designed loading technology and equipment to load the train sections into the aircraft. This loading equipment usually flies with the freight since it is also required at destination. The load-planning also covered the specific lashing methods required to safely secure the train sections on board.
Andriy Blagovisniy, Commercial Director of Antonov Airlines added: “For Antonov Airlines this project was both challenging and interesting at the same time. Its realization required careful preparation and performance of the flight strictly in accordance with the confirmed schedule. This air shipment became especially unusual during the world COVID-19 pandemic times. We thank our customer KN Airlift for their continued trust and effective cooperation.”
Timo Kaden, Manager Sales & Operations of KN Airlift GmbH commented: "This exciting project was based on a long-term perfect teamwork from all involved parties. We highly appreciate the professional performance from our valued partner Antonov Airlines."
The Transport System Bögl (TSB) train sections were destined for the Chengdu Xinzhu Road & Bridge Machinery Co. Ltd., Chengdu, China, and are part of a project that has been ongoing since 2018 already. They marked another milestone in the finalization of a 3.5 km demonstration track that has been under construction in Chengdu and are the first TSB series-production vehicles to be sent there.
The pre-commissioned vehicles were thoroughly tested in their native Sengenthal, covering an impressive 83,000km in 125,000 shuttle runs, before making their way to China.
China – the mega maglev user
While the maglev never really took off (pardon the pun) in Germany – despite a number of projects already a decade ago, looking to make use of this quiet, environmentally friendly form of transport, China is no stranger to the concept. Since 2002, the Shanghai Maglev, capable of speeds of up to 430km/hr has been in operation, and in MAY19, an experimental maglev train which can attain a top speed of 600km/hr, was unveiled at Qingdao in eastern Shandong province.
The TSB runs at a more leisurely speed of up to 150km/hr and will run on a 3.5 km track in Chengdu, to show the advantages of using such a solution as local public transport: it is very low and light with a girder of 1.2 m in height and 23.5 m in length. In contrast to conventional systems, the TSB avoids high loads at the wheel-rail contact point, thus eliminating vibrations and noise. Instead, the load is evenly distributed across the track without contact and is therefore very quiet. It runs on a much smaller substructure, so is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to construct and – the manufacturer states – “is also aesthetically pleasing.”
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