Japan says it is going to roll out (or possibly levitate out) a network of "maglev" trains by 2025. It will be the first commercial magnetic levitation line anywhere in the world outside of China, which has one line running in its Shanghai province. The trains will have a top speed of 310mph and will run between Tokyo and …
The obvious efficiency comparison is with non-maglev high-speed rail and that shows at best a marginal benefit at higher speeds, which is academic here in the UK as we don't have anything remotely resembling high-speed trains.
A more useful comparison is with short-haul air travel, which is horrendously innefficient in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-km. The reason passengers like myself prefer air over rail on short-haul routes is journey time. I'd rather fly from Edinburgh to London thatn take the train: over a distance of ~800km the train gets me from town centre to town centre in 6 hours by train while the plane trip takes about 3 hours including checkin and time to get to and from airports. I'll happily take the train if it gets me from a central station to a central station in under 3 hours. More legroom, better bar, no mobile phone bans, no checkin queues, better toilets etc.
Trains are vastly more environment friendly than planes so moving those short-haul journeys from air to maglev could bring serious environmental benefits, not least reducing the rampant growth of airports.
You say the sweetest things Lucy! :)
The German Red Herring
The accident in Germany is no argument against Maglev.
Not leaving maintenance vehicles parked in the way of *any* sort of train is a good idea and having adequate safety precautions to stop this happening is what is needed, on Maglev *or* metal rails.
Why am I not surprised...
..that England is completely unable to invest in this new technology. It'd sure make getting around the country a breeze and allow us to not take internal flights. Plus it'd reduce the need to drive everywhere. Insert phrases about being the last one to turn out the lights here.