German Maglev Tragedy

PHOTO: Niebuhr/Ems-Report/dpa/Corbis

On 22 September, a train demonstrating magnetic levitation crashed on a 30-kilometer test stretch in northwest Germany near the Dutch border, killing 25 of the 29 people aboard. Though it was a freak accident—the train collided with a maintenance vehicle left on the track—it’s a setback for a technology that’s still struggling for acceptance in the court of public opinion. Manufactured by Transrapid International, a joint subsidiary of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, this kind of maglev train has been deployed commercially only in Shanghai, where it connects the international airport with the center city.

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