In Case You Have A Spare Billion or Two

The Globe and Mail reported yesterday that a maglev train would be installed linking Munich, Germany, with its airport, a distance of 37 km.  This will use a modern incarnation of the magnetic levitation technology originally proposed for a stillborn Toronto network.  Our only legacy from that fiasco is the Scarborough RT.

The line will cost a cool $2.63-billion (although this is expected to rise because the estimate is out of date), or a mere $71-million/km.  Of course, it won’t have to worry about pesky, expensive things like stations, except at the termini, and we all know that the demand to and from airports is not what anyone would call rush hour rapid transit levels.

The article also reports considerable opposition to this scheme, and this is clearly a vanity project for Germany where hopes for the Transrapid system were stuck on the drawing boards for four decades.

The whole idea is to cut the travel time in a quarter, from 40 to 10 minutes.   Hmmm … that means an average speed of 222 km/hr, very impressive and probably quicker than the average of the airborne trips it will connect with once terminal delays are factored in.

As high-speed rail networks grow, the market for fast airport links evaporates, unless, of course, the whole purpose is to sell a technology project regardless of the need.