Working of MAGLEV Trains

john February 16, 2012 54 Comments


We have always thought of aeroplanes as the fastest mode of transportation. As it travels thousands of miles in an hour we do not mind the flight delays and also the risk in flying. There is no other alternative to planes that can travel such a great distance in minimum amount of time. Buses, cars, boats and even conventional trains seem to be too slow in comparison to planes.

Now a new transportation mode has occurred that can clearly compete with planes in both speed and safety. They are called MAGLEV trains. The full form and the basic working principle of MAGLEV is called Magnetic Levitation.

Magnetic Levitation

The principle of magnetic levitation is that a vehicle can be suspended and propelled on a guidance track made with magnets. The vehicle on top of the track may be propelled with the help of a linear induction motor. Although the vehicle does not use steel wheels on a steel rail they are still referred to as trains as by definition they are a long chain of vehicles which travel in the same direction. This is the definition of a MAGLEV train.



As the frictional parts are minimum in this type of technology, the MAGLEV trains are known to have more speed, smoothness and less sound.

Working of MAGLEV Train

The train will be floating about 10mm above the magnetic guiding track. The train will be propelled to move by the guide way itself. Thus, there is no need of any engine inside he train. The detailed working of MAGLEV train is shown in the figure below. The train is propelled by the changing in magnetic fields. As soon as the train starts to move, the magnetic field changes sections by switching method and thus the train is again pulled forward. The whole guide way is run by electromagnets so as to provide the magnetic effect.

Working of MAGLEV Train

Working of MAGLEV Train

Thus the power needed for the whole process is less when compared to a conventional electric train. Amongst the power used, only a little is used for the levitation process. But a higher percentage of power is needed to overcome air friction.

MAGLEV v/s Conventional Train

The main difference between both the trains is that conventional trains need steel wheels and a steel track for their movement and MAGLEV does not need wheels. They travel under the principle of electromagnetic suspension.

Another difference is in the engine used. MAGLEV trains do not need engines like conventional trains. The engine used for conventional trains provide power to pull a chain of compartments along steel tracks. In MAGLEV trains, the power to propel the train is provided by the magnetic fields created by the electric coils kept in the guidance tracks which are added together to provide huge power.


The track along which the train moves is called the guide way. Both the guide way as well as the train’s undercarriage also have magnets which repel each other. Thus the train is said to levitate about 0.39 inches on top of the guide way. After the levitation is complete, enough power has to be produced so as to move the train through the guide way. This power is given to the coils within the guide way, which in turn produces magnetic fields, which pulls and pushes the train through the guide way.



The current that is given to the electric coils of the guide way will be alternating in nature. Thus the polarity of the coils will be changing in period. Thus the change causes a pull force for the train in the front and to add to this force, the magnetic field behind the train adds more forward thrust.

Commercial use of MAGLEV Trains

  • The first known commercial use of MAGLEV train was in the year 1984 in Birmingham, England, and the train was named MAGLEV itself. But due to less reliability, the train was stopped by 1994.
  • The most famous commercial MAGLEV train is the Shanghai MAGLEV train in Shanghai, China. The train can go in a top speed of 270 miles/hour with an average speed of 160 miles/hour.
  • Since these trains move on a cushion of air, there is no friction at all [except air friction]. The trains are also aerodynamically designed which enables them to reach great speeds like 300 miles/hour and so on. At 300 miles/hour you can travel from Rome to Paris in about 2 hours.

EMS and EDS Systems

Some of the greatest developers of the MAGLEV trains are Germany and Japan. Although the basic concepts used for the construction are the same, the prototypes used are different. German trains use electromagnetic suspension (EMS) system so as the bottom of the train is wrapped to a steel guide way. Thus levitation occurs between the electromagnets that are attached underneath the train and the guide way to about 1 centimetre. It also helps in keeping the train in levitation, when it is standing still. Such trains were tested to go on a maximum speed of about 300 miles/hour with passengers on-board.

In Japan, MAGLEV trains use a technology called electro-dynamic suspension (EDS) system, which causes the trains to move due to the repelling force of magnets. The main difference with EMS is that, the electromagnets used will be super cooled and superconducting. Such magnets are prone to conduct current even if there is no power supply. Thus EDS system helps to save more power than EMS system. But the cooling mechanism and thus the initial cost will be expensive.

In EDS systems, the levitation distance is almost 10 centimetres above the guide way. This distance will need the use of rubber tires for the initial lift-off speed of the train [up to 62 miles/hour]. Since the EDS system produces superconducting magnetic field, people having pacemakers will have to be guarded from magnetic fields.

Advantages of MAGLEV

  • The main advantage is maintenance. There is no contact between the guide way and the train which lessens the number of moving parts. Thus the components that wear out is little.
  • Another advantage is the reduction in noise. As there are no wheels running along there is no wheel noise. However noise due to air disturbance will still be there.
  • The next advantage is high speed. As there are no frictional contacts, the train is prone to have more speed.
  • Another advantage is that the guide way can be made a lot thicker in uphill places, after stations and so on. This will help in increasing the speed of the train further.

Disadvantages of MAGLEV

The initial cost of MAGLEV trains are highly costly. The guide paths are also supposed to be more costly than conventional steel railways.

Environmental Friendliness of MAGLEV Trains

MAGLEV trains are more environmentally friendly than other types of trains.  In terms of energy consumption maglev trains are slightly better off than conventional trains. As there is no wheel friction with the ground, the resistive force gradually increases in the air friction. Thus the energy efficiency difference between a MAGLEV train and a conventional train is of very small margin.

  • Sayali Jadhav
    September 9, 2015

    Maglev trais are really an intresting thing.

  • jack
    March 23, 2015

    this is a nice place they tell you every thing you need to know

  • Lalit Akshant
    March 15, 2015

    hi everyone,
    I’m working on my project on maglev car for about 3 years.I’m final year BE in me,if anyone interested to join with me or any info about maglev power would help me in many occasions of my project.thank you.ill be available any time

    • jack
      March 23, 2015

      no thanks

    • arjun
      July 17, 2015

      where we used such type of maglev cars….. I mean that there is no magnets in track

    • nico hanes
      October 7, 2015

      where you planning on putting magnets somewhere on the inner fender of the car and somewhere in the tire to create the rotation?

    • Saroj
      January 16, 2016

      Am also a btech final year student. And am doing a modification on the current maglev train. Sir could you please provide me the basic electrical equation regarding the levitation and propulsion. Since am a mechanical engineering student i have less knolegde on magnetism and its functioning, am working on it.
      Kindly provide the details.

      Thank You

    • Veerendra Kumar Rawani
      March 10, 2016

      we are working on, working model of maglev train project in B.Tech final year,we need help from you.can you send some helpfull links describing the complete idea and from where we can get the all required materials.

  • amalshaji
    September 6, 2014

    i really want to know who got the idea of this awsome train

  • shushank singh
    September 1, 2014

    fully intresting and something gainful site…..

  • July 7, 2014

    Very Usefull ! Thank You .

  • July 7, 2014

    Really Good !

  • Ankush Tandel
    March 27, 2014

    Hi…. give me a information about maglev trak design in details for maglev lavitation trains……

  • rahul jangid
    March 8, 2014

    Sir I want to just ask two questions
    How that different polerity type magnetism occures????.
    And the circuit connection of truck magnetic field and trains magnetic field.

    • Lalit Akshant
      March 15, 2015

      you could check out the principle and working of oscillators.

  • CupcakeQueen
    March 7, 2014

    This website is very helpful, however you are not explaining how the train works (in depth). This information is very helpful indeed.It has help me in many of my essays. Thank you for who ever did this report.

    February 26, 2014

    sir it is very excellent but your not telling about the working of engine principals and break system. please send the clear report about this project

  • harish
    November 20, 2013

    sir it is very excellent but your not telling about the working of engine principals and break system. please send the clear report about this project sir

    • prem
      January 27, 2015

      I need Breaking system explanation please.

  • gaurav tikhat
    September 17, 2013

    this info is very useful ……. to understand how the magnetic levitation work

  • rezahassani
    September 13, 2013

    please send me information regarding the magnetic levitation train

  • Shivraj
    September 5, 2013

    Sir, we want to make project on maglev train …. we want detail working …we think to make track of v shape with coiling on all sides…

    • jojo
      September 5, 2013

      Hello Shivraj,

      We are not able to help you at this moment with a project on Maglev trains. Sorry for that.

  • September 5, 2013

    really a nice project do..
    can i have the circuit diagram and all the detailed description of the MAGLEV train?
    waiting for ur response
    reply soon..

    • jojo
      September 5, 2013

      Hello Renu,

      We have developed this article as a tutorial explaining the working of MAGLEV train. It is not an electronics project 🙂 Thanks.

  • ankul
    May 23, 2013

    plese can u provide a detailed information and circuit diagramabout manglav train
    witing for response
    plz reply soon

  • Shiva kumar
    April 24, 2013

    I’m final year electrical engineering student and want to do a project on maglev train ….will you suggest me how i proced….

  • November 19, 2012

    i want to know how the train moves while starting
    & the time of applying of breaks.can i have the circuit diagram and all the detailed description of the MAGLEV train?
    waiting for ur response

  • sumeet kumar
    September 5, 2012

    really a nice project do..
    can i have the circuit diagram and all the detailed description of the MAGLEV train?
    waiting for ur response
    reply soon..

  • harika
    July 18, 2012

    very nice and awesome thanks for ur information

  • salomi
    June 2, 2012

    waa………………… this was nice concept
    one favor that need was can i know that how the breaks are applied to this train

  • Ncedo
    April 13, 2012

    This is interesting…..!!Can you please send me the basic operation with more details of this train with electrical circuit diagrams if possible and explain breaking system of this train please!!

  • mohankumar
    April 4, 2012

    i want to know how the train moves while starting
    & the time of applying of breaks

  • mahesh
    March 10, 2012

    best explanation……………

  • Baskaran
    March 4, 2012

    Thanks for the detailed interesting explanation. I am very much facinated by this wondering technology and oneday I want to travel in my future. Australia is far behind in introducing new technologies and contraint by highcost, I dont expect to have a chance here. Definitly I need to travel China (one thing is safety) or better to Germany or Japan where technologies are very advance.

  • mounika
    March 2, 2012

    waa what a great technology really….i was feeling too good by knowing about this maglev trains..thanks for the great engineers…

  • February 21, 2012

    good explanation

  • reza
    December 1, 2011

    hi please send me information regarding the magnetic levitation train

  • Sumit
    November 19, 2011

    when MAGLEV trains will be commercially used in India……??????!!!

    • john
      November 19, 2011

      Hi Sumit,
      Kerala is introducing MAGLEV Trains for the first time in India.

    October 23, 2011

    I need iformation regarding meglev aplication for colombia s.a. who is the manufacturing company so that i cantact hem them now,,, my name manuel polanco and my email,, plese contact me at your earlist convinience, thaks,,,

    September 12, 2011

    its a good information ..tqvm…but, if u dont mind,can u plz tell me how about the regenerative braking works in electric railway systems…thank you very much..

  • September 8, 2011

    All of my qeutsoins settled-thanks!

  • Carlos
    August 17, 2011

    I’m experimenting about magnetic force. Will you, please, send me a detailed comment about the functioning of MAGLEV?

    • May 17, 2013

      hi’Carlos//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////I’m also experimenting on magnetic field.I need more experiment on magnetic force .Can you some helpe me on this topic.I’m So thankful to you.

  • Saurabh (India)
    March 17, 2011

    who so ever invented this idea has a very good indeed thes best engineering I would really like to ask you about the functioning in detail & I do appretiate the hey buddy can you please send me the functioning if this train in detail I would be highly obliged!!!!!!! 😀

  • shakeel
    January 23, 2011

    would you please send me the functioning of this train. I really appreciate at

  • john
    December 21, 2010

    @ Donald
    Yes, the train has been commercially used in China and Germany since 2002. It s bult and developed by a German company called Transrapid International.

  • December 21, 2010

    it is a very goood form of transport.

    will you please mail me about its functioning

    i will be highly thankfull to you.

  • Donald Ikegwuonu
    December 20, 2010

    Has this train been deployed anywhere in the world

Leave a Reply