Traditional trains are operated by steam, fuel, electricity, etc., while maglev trains rely on the electromagnetic force provided by electromagnetic fields to operate. Because of its high speed and low emission, it is imported and used by some countries, and it has become the world’s most innovative fifth-generation transportation vehicle. However, when people pay attention to its advantages in terms of high speed and emission reduction, the lack of cost and safety cannot be ignored. Therefore, we decided to discuss whether the maglev train has development prospects and use value.
The light side of Maglev trains
If the noise generated by the rail transportation process is too large, it not only affects the hearing of the surrounding residents, but also affects the local fauna and damage the local eco-system. According to the National Deafness and other research institutes, if the normal person’s long-term or repeated contact sounds are higher than 85 decibels, the risk of hearing loss may be attributable. Therefore, 85 decibels are also generally considered to be the limit of safe sound. According to the train noise research report provided by ResearchGate, it can be clearly found that at a speed of 300km/h, the noise generated by the TGV train and the ICE train is close to or even exceeds 90 decibels, while the maglev train remains at a level of about 75 decibels. The reason of lower noise is mainly due to the fact that there is no friction between the trolley and the pantograph, and there is also no sound of rolling friction. The only possible source of noise is the aerodynamic forces generated by the train as it travels. From the perspective of virtue theory, it is necessary to focus on the intentions of the actors and benefit the human race. The low noise design of the maglev train can greatly reduce the risk of hearing damage.
In addition, compared to existing train compartment, the available space in the magnetic levitation compartment is generally larger. For example, the German Transrapid interior is nearly one meter wider than the traditional train, so that the passengers are able to have a wider range of seating options and greater freedom of space, while also improving overall comfort.
Conventional trains directly produce carbon dioxide emission and seriously damage to the railway. The virtue ethics asks the sustainable development of people, and maglev trains produce less carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the loss to the railway. When Maglev runs with 400 km/h, the emission of carbon dioxide is only the half of cars and one third of a short haul airline flight, which can obviously lower carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, materials that were originally lost due to friction can be saved for reducing destructive mining. Hence, using more environmentally friendly maglev trains is our moral duty.
The dark side of Maglev trains
The technology of magnetic is immature, leading to a wide debate. Since maglev train runs without mechanical contact, the reliability of brake system of the maglev train under an emergency situation still faces many challenges. The train should be stationary from a rapid speed drop, leading to the necessity to overcome a large inertia, so it will pose a threat to the safety of passengers. Based on Kant’s theory, humans should be treated as ends, but not means, this test therefore would be immoral for people safety. For example, a German maglev train crashed into a maintenance wagon during a test run in 2006. A total of 23 people died in this accident, which shows the unreliability of the emergency brake in maglev train. In this case, the harm caused by immature technology is beyond the tolerance of society. Kant’s theory suggests that the 23 of death should not be considered as an experiment, and the maglev trains cannot be developed and used rapidly. Even some experts believe that the maglev train may produce radiation, which can endanger human health. From the perspective of Kant’s theory, this is not in line with the Kant’s theory, which has posed a threat to the theory of human purpose.
Additionally, maglev trains use different railways, which means the current railway infrastructure cannot be used for maglev trains. Therefore, the new tracks of maglev trains should be created, and it will cost more manpower and finances.
In 2004, the maglev train started trial operation in Shanghai and the investment in the maglev train exceeded 13.5 billion yuan, but in 2004-2006, the maglev train has cost 1 billion yuan. In 2007, Germany launched maglev trains with a total investment of 185 million euros. But German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck thinks the project will cost more than 185 million euros. Such huge costs and losses have led to a debate about whether maglev trains will be developed rapidly. From the perspective of utilitarian ethics, the interests of most people need to be met. If a country invests heavily in maglev trains, people’s tax payment will be increased, which leads to increase people’s life pressure and affect people’s life standard. Therefore, this is not in line with utilitarian ethics. Many countries already have sophisticated rail networks and replaced regular trains with maglev would do more harm than good, and it would be a waste of national resources.
Although existing maglev trains have disadvantages of immature technologies and huge investment, it is the trend to develop maglev trains for lower noise, comfortability and environmental protection. If the key problems can be solved, maglev trains tend to be the most potential highspeed railway transport.