The Future of MagLev: How the Magnetic-Levitation Turnpike will Revolutionize Ground Transportation

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Magnetic-Levitation (MagLev) rail provides a virtually frictionless way to transport people and goods at high speeds of 300 mph (480 km/h) or more. MagLev trains can be fast, but they are still trains – they must stop and start often, and stations might be far from passengers’ homes or businesses. As such, MagLev trains offer little advantage over conventional steel-wheels-on-steel-rails systems.

Let us separate “railroad” from “train” and have individual vehicles that use computer-automated technology to go non-stop from the starting to the destination depots. The fees charged to each such vehicle depend mainly on the weight of the vehicle and the distance traveled, so there is a MagLev “Turnpike”. To do this, you need to be able to switch the vehicles from one rail to another, instantaneously. Danby-Powell second-generation MagLev is the only MagLev system that can do this.

At first, a basic rail network can be built, as outlined in previous work by James R. Powell, the late Gordon T. Danby, and others. Vehicles could include “buses” of various sizes, and vehicles that can carry full-sized truck trailers, or even full-sized trucks. Modular cars (“LeviCars”), with detachable road chassis, can ride on MagLev “bogies” while on the MagLev rail network. Vehicles would stop on offline sidings, so that one stopped vehicle does not stop the entire line.

Once the research is completed and the basic network is built, the system is ready to provide transportation service and earn money. Some of that money can be “plowed back” into more research, and building more of the network. Other than at the very beginning, no subsidies will be needed, and the system will be self-sustaining, unlike all current passenger-rail systems worldwide, which are subsidized.

The basic network can be expanded by adding a hexagrammoid grid, called hexOgrid, to provide depots within ten miles, by road, in any urban or suburban area. It also minimizes G-forces when a vehicle changes direction, even at 300 mph. An exemplary map of such a network in New Jersey (the “heart” of the Boston-Washington corridor) is shown.

The same network can be used to handle freight (where the money is, called “RoboTrail”) and passengers (what people are interested in), but separate depots are used for the two different modes. For passengers, “LeviCar” gives them the speed of air travel without all the hassles, with seamless, flexible travel. Existing manufacturers can make these.

Much later on, some more-speculative innovations can be added. One would be “Transportation Tubes”, similar to Hyperloop and ET3. LeviCar could offer seamless transfers from “conventional” MagLev to such tubes, making it even faster, while keeping the same flexibility. Current Hyperloop research is probably premature.

Another speculative enhancement is to have permanent MagLev undercarriages on ordinary cars (if the cost can be reduced from $30,000 to about $8,000), and have MagLev loops installed under the pavement of roads. Many details are yet to be worked out.

Further information is available at, while details about the hexagrammoid grid can be found at


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  • Name:
    Joshua Levin
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