nukavarapu wrote:My justification is maglev is available and can be more cost effective in future compared to tracks with ballast. If we are building new infrastructure, why not do it with maglev instead of doing tracks and ballast? Vaccum based maglev ducts can accelerate trains to speeds more or equal to aeroplanes and can carry more people with a fraction of cost. You can never do that with regular tracks with ballast.
Nukavarapu, Maglev is truly a white elephant. It is a very expensive way to earn bragging rights - truly a "mine is bigger than yours" claim. It is not easy to use for mass transport that can scale up as the demand increases. The track is an active component in the propulsion of the maglev. So, the cost ought to be orders of magnitude higher than conventional rail.
The Shanghai Maglev has two trains on two fixed tracks going back and forth on the 40 KM stretch between the city outskirts and the airport. The last time I went on these, one was running at 430 KMPH and the other one was stuck at 300 KMPH for some reason. 300 KMPH is the speed at which the conventional HSRs in China, Japan and Europe run. You don't need maglev if the speed you need is 300 KMPH.
The Beijing-Shanghai HSR is 1500+ kilometers long. It covers the distance in 5 hours with a stop in Nanjing. If this line had been a maglev running at 430 KMPH, you would cover this distance in 3 hours and 49 minutes. But the cost would be orders of magnitude higher. Is a cost of $45 billion worth the 1 hour 11 minutes in time savings? Lots of variables go into figuring the ROI out for a venture like this. I am not an expert at calculating ROI for a project like that, but my gut feeling that it will not have good ROI.
Today, you take a train for 40 hours to go from Chennai to Delhi (2176 KM). You would probably take about 7-8 hours doing the same over flight - add airport transit, wait times, cost of delays, etc. The nation loses the productivity of each travelling individual for anywhere between 7 and 40 hours per trip.
A 300 KMPH HSR can cover that distance in under 8 hours. That is a huge gain in productivity for the entire nation. Net ROI for the country would go through the roof. I would argue that bringing down that time to 5 hours with a 430 KMPH maglev will NOT bring a proportional benefit to the nation. The incremental ROI won't be worth it. The cost-benefit curve tends to become a flat line in that zone.