Superspeed Maglev System -- Transrapid

Chronology of Maglev Transportation Technology in Germany


Hermann Kemper contemplates an electromagnetically levitated train (the principle of levitation using electromagnets in the track).



14. August 1934

On, Hermann Kemper receives a patent for the magnetic levitation of trains (DPR 643 316).



The HSB study group (Bölkow KG, Strabag Bau AG, Deutsche Bundesbahn) begins investigating the development and application of high performance, high speed rail systems under contract to the Federal Ministry of Transport. The high performance, high speed rail study (HSR study) is completed in 1972.



Presentation of the first person-carrying, principle vehicle by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) on the 660 m (0.4 mile) long test track at the company facilities in Ottobrunn.

Commissioning of the Transrapid 02 by Krauss Maffei.

Both vehicles utilize electromagnetic (EMS) levitation and guidance systems with an asynchronous short-stator motor for propulsion.



Commissioning of the Transrapid 03, an alternative air cushion vehicle, by Krauss Maffei.

Development begins on an electrodynamic levitation system (EDS- repulsive system) using superconducting coils by a project group consisting of AEG-Telefunken, BBC, and Siemens. Construction of a 900 m (0.6 mile) long, round, test track in Erlangen and construction of the Erlangen Test Vehicle (EET 01) by MAN occurs.



Commissioning of the Transrapid 04 by Krauss Maffei.



Thyssen Henschel and the Technical University of Braunschweig begin the development work on longstator propulsion for magnetic levitation systems.

Construction and commissioning of the unmanned component test unit (KOMET) by MBB continues at the company facilities in Manching.



Development, commissioning, and operation of the first functional facility for longstator maglev technology begins with the test platform HMB 1 at the company facilities of Thyssen Henschel in Kassel.



Commissioning of the Test Vehicle EET 02 at the Erlangen round test track. The vehicle utilizes electrodynamic (EDS) levitation with a synchronous motor for propulsion.

Commissioning of the world's first passenger-carrying, longstator test vehicle HMB 2 at the company facilities of Thyssen Henschel in Kassel.



After extensive comparative analysis, the Federal Minister of Research and Technology (BMFT) decides in favor of the electromagnetic levitation system (EMS) with longstator linear motor propulsion. The research on the electrodynamic (EDS) levitation system (Erlangen Test Vehicle) is stopped.



The "Magnetbahn Transrapid" consortium is formed (MBB as lead company, Thyssen, AEG, BBC, Siemens, Dynidag, and Krauss Maffei) and definition work begins on the Transrapid Test Facility (TVE).



Operation of the world's first maglev train with longstator propulsion (Transrapid 05) to be licensed for passenger transportation occurs at the International Transportation Exhibition (IVA 79) in Hamburg. During the three week exhibition, the Transrapid 05 carries more than 50 000 passengers in scheduled operation.



Construction begins on the guideway at the Transrapid Test Facility in Emsland (TVE) and on the test vehicle Transrapid 06.



The Versuchs- und Planungsgesellschaft für Magnetbahnsysteme (MVP) is formed in Munich. The parent companies today are the Deutsche Bahn (DB AG) and Deutsche Lufthansa (LH). The MVP is owner and operator the TVE with the day-to-day test work being subcontracted to the Industrieanlagenbetriebsgesellschaft (IABG).



Commissioning of the Transrapid 06 begins.

The vehicle consists of two sections with a total length of 54 m (177 ft), 102 t vehicle weight, 192 seats, electromagnetic levitation and guidance system, propulsion using a synchronous longstator linear motor, power generation for the on-board supply using linear generators, and 400 km/h (250 mph) design speed.



Completion and commissioning of the first portion of the Transrapid Test Facility in Emsland (TVE).

August 1984

Test runs with the Transrapid 06 begin and a speed of 302 km/h (188 mph) is reached.

Planning and preparation of the second portion of the TVE begin (southern loop).

December 1984

The TVE is officially transferred to the MVP (final acceptance).



December 1985

The Transrapid 06 achieves a speed of 355 km/h (220 mph) on the portion of guideway available at the Test Facility.

Work on the second portion of the TVE guideway begins. The southern loop has a length of approx. 10 km (6.2 miles) and is built with Thyssen Henschel as general contractor.



Construction and commissioning of the southern loop of the Transrapid Test Facility is completed. A closed circuit with two loops and a total length of 31.5 km (19.6 miles) is now available for long-term operation under conditions similar to actual applications.

December 1987

The Transrapid 06 reaches a speed of 392 km/h (244 mph).

Integration work on the Transrapid 07, the prototype application vehicle designed for speeds of up to 500 km/h (310 mph), begins at Thyssen Henschel in Kassel.


January 1988

The Transrapid 06 surpasses its own design speed on numerous runs and sets a new world record of 412.6 km/h (256 mph) for passenger-carrying, maglev vehicles.

Long-term operating tests under near-application conditions begin with the Transrapid 06 at the TVE.

The Transrapid 07 is presented for the first time in public at the International Transportation Exhibition (IVA 88) in Hamburg. The vehicle is subsequently put into long-term operation at the TVE.

The Transrapid 07 consists of two sections with a total length of 51 m (167 ft), 92 t vehicle weight, electromagnetic levitation and guidance system, propulsion using a synchronous longstator linear motor, nominal 10 mm (0.4 in) air gap, power generation for the on-board supply using linear generators, and 300 - 500 km/h (185 – 310 mph) operating speed.



15 December 1989

The Transrapid 07 achieves a speed of 436 km/h (271 mph) and thereby establishes a new world record for passenger-carrying maglev vehicles.



November 1991

After extensive tests and analyses, the Deutsche Bundesbahn in cooperation with renowned universities approves the technical readiness for application of the Superspeed Maglev System Transrapid. This achieves the prerequisite for inclusion of this new train system in the Federal Transportation Master Plan and allows planning and approval work for application routes in Germany to begin. With this certification, the basic development of the superspeed maglev system is considered to be completed.



15 July 1992

The Federal Government decides to include the Transrapid maglev system route Berlin-Hamburg in the Federal Transportation Master Plan. The nearly 285 km long connection between Germany's two largest cities had shown itself to be particularly attractive in an extensive investigation of potential routes. The use of the maglev system will reduce the travel time to less than one hour (with three intermediate stops).



Spring 1993

The Magnetschnellbahn Berlin-Hamburg GmbH is formed by Daimler Benz AG/AEG AG, Siemens AG, and Thyssen Industrie AG, to realize the Transrapid maglev route Berlin-Hamburg.

10  June 1993

Under normal operating conditions, the Transrapid 07 achieves a new world speed record of 450 km/h (280 mph) at the Transrapid Test Facility. Just a few days earlier, the Transrapid achieves a non-stop distance of over 1 664 km (1034 miles) during a series of endurance runs. This is equivalent to a trip from Hamburg to Rome.

December 1993

The Magnetschnellbahn Berlin-Hamburg GmbH in conjunction with renowned banks, presents the "Concept for the Financing and Private Sector Operation of the Transrapid Maglev Route Berlin-Hamburg" to the government. For the first time in German transportation history, this financing concept proposes the financing of a major infrastructure project without significant impact on the public budget. The concept foresees a private sector operation of the route and a reimbursement of the government’s investment for the guideway through leasing payments by a private Operations Company.




2  March 1994

The government approves the realization of the Transrapid Maglev Route Berlin-Hamburg based on the financing concept proposed by the private sector partners.

September 1994

The Maglev Systems Planning Law is passed by the Federal Parliament which establishes the legal prerequisites required for the official planning of the Berlin-Hamburg Project. This law defines the planning process required for maglev routes in Germany and is thereby analogous to the existing planning laws for highways and railroads.

13 October 1994

The Maglev System Planning Company is formed in Schwerin. Government and private industry are equally represented in the company. The Planning Company will coordinate the legal planning and approval process of the world's first Transrapid route between Berlin and Hamburg.



April 1995

Revenue operation begins at the Transrapid Test Facility in Emsland with visitors paying DM 20 per person for the opportunity to experience the world’s fastest train ride (open to the general public). To meet the growing visitor demand, an expanded schedule is introduced with up to 8 visitor rides per day, 6 days a week.

October 1995

Transrapid International GbR is formed by Daimler-Benz AG/AEG AG (later through the fusion with ABB, the name is changed to Adtranz), Siemens AG, and Thyssen Industrie AG, to promote and coordinate the world-wide marketing and project activities of the Transrapid.



February 1996

The Executive Board of Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) officially approves the participation of DB AG in the project as an equity shareholder (DM 300 million) in the Operations Company and as the future operator of the Transrapid route.

May 1996

The Planning Company officially presents its recommendation for the Transrapid route alignment between Berlin and Hamburg. This alignment, chosen from 13 alternatives (including the alignment used for the financing concept), will be the preferred alignment for the public legal planning process. The selection was based on a detailed investigation of all route alternatives including alignment difficulties, environmental impact, city entrances/exits, station locations, ridership, investment/operating costs, and revenue potential.

The preferred alignment consists of 292 km of double track (55% at-grade, 45% elevated), 5 stations, and 11 propulsion system substations. A one hour trip time (with intermediate stops), a maximum revenue speed of 450 km/h, and ridership volume 23% higher than the original financing concept route are anticipated. With the preferred alignment, the preliminary planning phase is completed (map scale 1:25 000).

May/June 1996

The German Parliament overwhelmingly passes the General Maglev Systems Law and the Maglev Systems Requirements Law, the second and third pieces of legislation required to implement the Transrapid Project Berlin-Hamburg. The General law covers the operating and safety regulations for maglev systems as well as the regulating authorities and the Requirements law defines the necessity of the maglev system for the route, the premises upon which the decision was based, and the procedures for the public legal planning process at the town and county level.

July 1996

The Regional Planning Process phase (ROV: Raumordnungsverfahren) officially begins. In this first phase of the public legal planning process, the project and route are scrutinized on a regional level by the government, state, and local departments and authorities involved in infrastructure projects (map scale 1:5 000).



April 1997

Thyssen presents a full size model of the newest Transrapid generation at the Hannover Fair. The Transrapid 08, a 3-section, passenger train similar to those foreseen for the Berlin-Hamburg route, will be built on pre-production tooling in the Thyssen Transrapid System GmbH plant in Kassel. It will commence operation at the Test Facility in Emsland in 1999 and be used to achieve the type approval certification required for the Berlin-Hamburg Project. Designed for 550 km/h operation, the new train will be lighter, more aerodynamic, quieter, and more economical than its predecessor, the Transrapid 07.

25  April 1997

German Transport Minister Wissmann announces that the first of the two project economic viability evaluations has successfully been completed and that the government fully supports the continuation of the project. Included in the evaluation were new ridership/revenue estimates as well as revised investment and operating cost estimates based on the preferred alignment and the current project layout and planning.

To compensate for lower ridership and revenue figures, the operations concept for the route is revised and the initial delivery contents downsized to reflect the lower figures. At the same time, a marginal rise in the investment costs reflect the longer preferred alignment, the current planning level, and the updating of project costs from 1993 to 1996 DM. Overall, the investment costs now total DM 9.983 billion with DM 6.269 billion for the guideway infrastructure and DM 3.713 billion for the trains, propulsion/energy supply, and supporting equipment and facilities. A restructuring of the original 1993 public/private financing concept is required before the German Government pledges its continued political and financial support.

In this restructuring, Adtranz, Siemens, and Thyssen continue as equity partners in the financing consortium and Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) replaces the three construction companies previously involved in the project. In addition to its original role as operator of the Berlin-Hamburg route, DB AG will also serve as general contractor for the guideway infrastructure and stations. The Government will continue to finance the guideway infrastructure with an interest-free loan to DB AG. A private financing consortium with Adtranz, Siemens, and Thyssen as main partners will fund the remainder of the project. The public and private investors will be reimbursed for their contributions by DB AG over the course of the financing period.

June 1997

With the submittals of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, the Regional Planning Process phase (ROV) is officially completed. Together with the reports of the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (January), Hamburg (March), and Schleswig-Holstein (April), the planning now enters the Concept Design Planning phase (REP: Rahmenentwurfsplanung). In this phase, the planning documents will be scrutinized internally by the authorities for technical and economic issues.

July 1997

The German Parliament passes the Maglev Systems Ordinance which defines the requirements for the construction and operation of maglev systems as well as designates the Federal Railway Administration (Eisenbahn Bundesamt) responsible for overseeing and certifying the required activities. Divided into three parts, the law includes ordinances for construction and operation, for noise protection standards, and for noise protection measures. With passage of this law, the legal framework required for the realization of Transrapid routes in Germany is completed.

August 1997

The total Transrapid „mileage" at the Test Facility in Emsland surpasses the 500 000 km (310 000 miles) mark. Since 1991, over 156 000 passengers have taken the opportunity to ride the Transrapid at speeds up to 420 km/h (260 mph) with many times that number visiting the facility.



5  May 1998

Transrapid International GmbH & Co. KG (TRI) is formed in Berlin as a joint company of Adtranz, Siemens, and Thyssen. TRI will be the primary customer contact and provide system engineering, project management, marketing, and maintenance support services for the Transrapid Maglev System.

Summer 1998

The Concept Design Planning phase (REP) for the first route segments is completed and they move into the last planning phase, the Plan Determination Process phase (PF: Planfeststellungsverfahren, map scale 1:1 000). All planning segments are expected to enter this final phase by the end of the year. Only after completion of this phase can construction permits be granted for a given segment.

September 1998

The ground breaking ceremony for the new Lehrter Train Station occurs in Berlin. This multi-modal station will serve as the end station for the Transrapid in Berlin as well as being a hub for ICE, regional, and suburban (S-Bahn) trains.

October 1998

The newly-elected "Red – Green" coalition Government officially pledges its commitment to the Transrapid technology and the Berlin-Hamburg Project. This commitment reaffirms the original commitments as defined in the "Key Points Paper" signed by the project partners in April 1997. In this agreement, each side committed to financing their portion of the costs - DM 6.1 billion from the Government for the infrastructure (via DB AG) and DM 3.7 billion from the private sector partners for the operating system (supporting equipment and trains).

TRI forms Transrapid International-USA (TRI-USA), a wholly-owned subsidiary in the United States. Based in Washington DC, TRI-USA will be the local partner for all projects involving Transrapid technology in the US. Its primary activities will include marketing, government relations, and project and planning support. The formation of this subsidiary reflects the growing interest in the US to realize transportation projects using the Transrapid technology, as demonstrated by the inclusion of the Maglev Deployment Program in the 1998 TEA-21 infrastructure law.

In December, the total Transrapid „mileage" at the Test Facility in Emsland surpasses the 600 000 km mark. The number of paying passengers now totals over 220 000.



Late Spring 1999

The Berlin-Hamburg Project contract negotiations between the German Federal Government, DB AG, and TRI resume (they were broken off in Summer 1998 due to the upcoming federal election). These contracts will regulate all aspects of the procurement, construction, operation, and financing of the project (including guarantees, responsibilities, risk assessment, etc.). In preparation for these negotiations, all investment, operating, and maintenance costs are updated to reflect the changes in the project since the last economic viability evaluation (1997). The signing of these contracts will clear the way for construction to begin in the year 2000.

Spring – Summer 1999

Installation of new equipment at the Transrapid Test Facility continues. These improvements will support the final type approval certifications required for the Berlin-Hamburg Project. These include a second propulsion system substation in the northern loop, an upgrading of the operation control system with new equipment, antennas along the route and software, and improved guideway switch control equipment.

April 1999

Commissioning begins on a new 3-way guideway switch at the Thyssen Transrapid System plant in Kassel. This 78 m long, low speed switch with 100 km/h turn-out speed, utilizes a flexible, steel guideway beam with rack and pinion drives. Designed to access three different tracks, it will be used extensively in the Berlin-Hamburg Project. It will undergo approx. 6 months of controlled-environment testing in Kassel in preparation for the type approval certification work.

August 1999

The Transrapid 08 (TR08) is delivered to the Transrapid Test Facility. This 3 section, pre-production, Berlin-Hamburg train is 79.70 m long, weighs 188.50 t, and has first and second class seating for 190+ passengers. Designed for 550 km/h operation, the TR08 carries Deutsche Bahn colors and has all of the amenities found on a modern high speed train (including toilets, overhead baggage racks, and pressure-sealed passenger compartments). Commissioning of the TR08 is completed in late Fall 1999. The TR08 has been built primarily for the type approval certification work for the Berlin-Hamburg Project as well as being an attraction for the World Expo 2000 Exhibition in Hannover in Summer 2000.

10  August 1999

On 10. August, a new hybrid (concrete/steel) beam is installed into the canal (straight) portion of the Test Facility. This new combination concrete and steel beam resulted from the Berlin-Hamburg guideway bidding process and holds promise of becoming the third beam type available for project use (after pure steel and pure concrete). The 62 m long, double span beam weighs approx. 350 t and has a pre-stressed, post-tensioned, reinforced concrete body and bolted-on, steel cantilever areas (functional surfaces). It will undergo extensive testing during Fall 1999 with the ultimate goal of type approval certification in the year 2000.

November 1999

The Chinese "Ministry of Science and Technology" and Transrapid International sign a "Letter of Intent" with the goal of selecting an appropriate Transrapid route in China as well as investigating its implementation from technical and economic viewpoints.



January 2000

The plan determination process record of decision for the first planning segment of the Berlin-Hamburg route is released (required for the approval of construction permits).

5  February 2000

On 5  February, German Government, Deutsche Bahn AG, and the industrial partners sign an Agreement to cancel the Berlin-Hamburg Project. The decision to cancel the project came after months of negotiations between the partners and numerous attempts to improve the project’s financial viability did not bring the desired effect. The cancellation was ultimately due to the lack of political will and to difficulties in the financing of the publicly-financed portion of the project. At the time of cancellation, the project was less than 6 months away from start of construction. Revenue service was planned to begin in 2006.

Spring 2000

During the Spring, an intensive search begins to identify regional transportation projects appropriate for the Transrapid technology and to determine their viability. Five projects are identified and feasibility studies are conducted:

· Berlin Lehrter Train Station – Berlin Schönefeld Airport (28 km / 17 miles)

· Munich Main Train Station – Munich Airport (37 km / 23 miles)

· Düsseldorf Main Train Station – Düsseldorf Airport – Duisburg – Essen – Bochum – Dortmund (all train stations) (78 km / 48.5 miles) with extension to Dortmund – Köln/Bonn Airport ("Metrorapid")

· Frankfurt Airport – Hahn Airport (108 km / 67 miles) with extension to Frankfurt Main Train Station

· Hamburg Main Train Station – Bremen Train Station – Groningen (Netherlands) (289 km / 180 miles)

30 June 2000

The City of Shanghai and Transrapid International sign an agreement for a joint feasibility study to be conducted for the route between the new Pudong International Airport and downtown Shanghai.

2 July 2000

The Chinese Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, the Mayor of Shanghai, Xu Kuangdi, and a VIP delegation are hosted by the German Minister of Transport, Reinhard Klimmt at the Transrapid Test Facility and ride the Transrapid 08 at 400 km/h (250 mph).

June – October 2000

Between June and October, the Transrapid Test Facility is a satellite exhibition center for the World Expo 2000 in Hannover. The Transrapid 08 carries 67 000 paying passengers on 566 trips, traveling a total of 43 600 km (27 100 miles).

July 2000

In July, the total Transrapid „mileage" at the Test Facility in Emsland surpasses the 700 000 km (435 000 miles) mark. The number of paying passengers now totals over 250 000.

23  August 2000

An Agreement is signed by the German Government, Deutsche Bahn, and the industrial partners for the retention and optimization of the Transrapid technology for use in a future application. This agreement commits Government funding for personnel, technology work related to regional applications, and the Test Facility for two years until a new revenue application is approved in Germany.

10  October 2000

The German Minister of Transport, Reinhard Klimmt and the US Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater sign a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) for the Transrapid maglev technology. The intent of the MOC is to foster cooperation between the two countries on safety and environmental standards for the operation of the Transrapid maglev system and an information and experience exchange to facilitate the near-term implementation of the Transrapid in revenue operation in both countries. The MOC provides additional support for the US Maglev Deployment Program. This program, created in 1998 by the US Congress, budgets one billion dollars for the planning and construction of one or more maglev projects. The Transrapid technology is foreseen for six of the seven projects currently in planning.

27  October 2000

The German Minister of Transport, Reinhard Klimmt and the Ministers-President of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber and of North Rhine-Westfalia (NRW), Wolfgang Clement sign an agreement for in-depth studies of the Munich and NRW Metrorapid projects. These two projects were chosen for further planning with the goal of implementing one or both projects. The studies are to be completed by early 2002 and a final decision on the project(s) to be built is expected in Summer 2002.



18  January 2001

The US Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater announces that the Baltimore-Washington and Pennsylvania Projects have been selected for the next planning/engineering phase ("short list"). Each project will receive approx. US$10.5 million to complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and preliminary engineering work foreseen in this two year phase.

23  January 2001

The construction contract for the world’s first commercial high-speed maglev route, the Shanghai Airport Link is signed. The 30 km (19 miles), double track route extends from a subway station on the East side of Shanghai to the Pudong International Airport. Construction will begin in February with demonstration operation foreseen in January 2003 and commercial operation foreseen in early 2004. The project partners are the City of Shanghai and the German industrial consortium consisting of Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, and Transrapid International. The Chinese will supply the guideway infrastructure, stations, and operating facilities and the German industrial consortium will supply the Transrapid maglev technology (vehicles, propulsion, operation control system, and individual guideway components).

January 2001

The German Government releases preliminary planning contracts for the NRW Metrorapid and Munich Airport Link Projects.

The total Transrapid "mileage" at the Test Facility in Emsland surpasses the 728 000 km (450 000 miles) mark. The number of paying passengers now totals over 330 000.

February 2001

Construction begins in Shanghai on the construction road along the route.

March 2001

Construction begins in Shanghai on the guideway beam factory located mid-way along the route. This 1.8 km (1.1 mile) long factory will produce approx. 2600 hybrid guideway beams with a rate of 10 beams/day over the one year production period. Approx. 1700 workers will be employed on 16 production lines. The first production prototype beam is foreseen for July.

April 2001

The parent companies of Transrapid International, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, and Adtranz reach an agreement to allow Adtranz to formally withdraw from the joint company. Long anticipated, this action was precipitated by the DaimlerChrysler’s sale of Adtranz to Bombardier.



Last modified: June 01, 2002