Magnetic train |
Hazra Mohammed Fazle Awal, C.Eng, MIEE (UK)
I am amazed to read in DS August 11, 2003 that a country like ours, should even consider an expensive, unproven and unreliable system like the magnetic train.
In the 1980's while I was working in the private sector of the UK railway industry, the then state owned British Rail was developing this idea of 'Magnetic Levitation' independently. They did manage to materialise this idea in the form of a 'toy' like coach, which was then commercially sold to Birmingham International Airport, UK and was used to ferry passengers from the terminal building to the aircraft's.
This revolutionary idea of using magnetic levitation, coupled with linear motor propulsion is simple enough, but the technical problems associated with it were not possible to solve at the time. The whole system was highly unreliable. Because the tolerances required for the optimum performances demand constant and expensive mechanical maintenance and at that time it was not easy task from an engineer's point of view.
But the inherent fault at the core of this idea can be summarised by the following comment -- "Magnetic levitation is probably the most expensive way of transporting the least amount of load." -- and as such, unlikely to catch on anywhere in the world except perhaps for certain 'prestigious' projects.
There is no doubt that the country's rambling dilapidated and outmoded transport systems must be replaced soon, but to think about solving that with 'Magnetic Levitation' falls in the same category as that of the drug induced hallucination of Indian Holy men who claim to be able to 'Levitate'.
I am President and CEO of American Maglev, Inc., one of the companies that has been pre-qualified to submit proposals for both a high speed transportation line from Dhaka to Chittagong and a Dhaka metro system as well.
Regarding the comments from the Finance Minister on magnetic trains, I would hope that there will be an opportunity for the government to carefully consider the possibilities and to evaluate our technology against the German technology so that he may see our advantages. The German train is a testament to great technological innovation, but it is indeed very expensive. Based on the experience in Shanghai, the cost of the German Maglev technology would be much closer to $60 million a kilometre than the $2 million suggested previously.
In contrast, our company is focused on building cost-effective transportation options and our Maglev technology runs out at about US$10M per KM depending on how many components can be manufactured locally. I believe that creation of new transportation is an essential part of the government's fight against poverty. Building a system will create thousands of construction jobs and will link business and industry with the port. A cost-effective system will focus regional and national attention here.
Our company has received many inquiries from all over Asia and the Middle East from governments and private entities seeking the next generation of transportation that is cost-effective as well as "fast, frequent, and flexible." We have now been pre-qualified on many of these proposed projects, and we have an interest in establishing a significant presence in the country for final assembly and testing of vehicles for projects throughout the region.
Our company and our technology are new, and we believe that we can create significant new opportunity for our customers. We urge the government to look at bringing all people together as an integral part of improving the general welfare of the state and all its citizens. We hope we can be a part of a brighter future.
You may please feel free to publish this letter if you wish.
Tony Morris, President and CEO, American MAGLEV, Inc.