Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Electromagnetic levitation for CCS-La Guaira (coast, airport and seaport) 

The typical right wing reaction to progress is that it should not happen in the first place. Even though the left has made a habit of blaming its woes on the US the right exclaims that they are the only ones that can save us from sub-development. Take investment as an example, any type of government investment is wrong:

-but why?
-because no foreigner has shown any interest, and if they do it is always better by default.

A maglev train in Venezuela? Surely you jest, those are for Europe or the US, and if neither can have one then neither should we. It does not matter that technological externalities are gained, or the possibility for export. To the right wing mind (interchangeable with opposition both literally and figuratively) progress is only measured by how much respect the Economist dishes.

Anyhow enough about them, lets meet Alberto Serra

For 40 years he has been pitching his project of a Venezuelan Maglev for Merida, I guess you can extrapolate for how long he has been rejected. All governments told him the same: our rightwing mentality regrets to inform you that we are too cowardly to act! Well today the project is 2 months away from starting

Why a Maglev and not just a train?

Aside from being technologically profitable it is also cheaper, MUCH cheaper than you think. Actually for mountainous terrain it might even be cheaper than normal rail!! since the later can only climb at a 4% inclination, for hilly terrain (meaning almost any populated center in Venezuela) that means lots and lots of this:

Or lots and lots of tunnels. Maglevs on the other hand can climb inclinations of up to 10% meaning they can just go over an obstacle without the need to burrow. Caracas is 15 KM away from the coast, and its height is 1000Km. It could even snake around the old highway if they get lazy.

Shouldn't cargo be a priority?

Maglevs can carry cargo just fine and with style.

What about the technology?

While not fully clear at this moment (I have yet to see specs) I am told that it is unique and 90-100% Venezuelan technology, from superconductors, to aerodynamics. Real size testing should start within months.

But seriously not even Europe has them (operating commercially), and they love rail

Yes they do, and that is their downfall. Economically justifying a Maglev when there is an existing rail link is difficult, we can thank the opposition for that not being a problem here.

Will it go fast?

Yes and no, a 30 min car trip can be made in 3-5 mins, but it won't be breaking the 500Km/Hr speed record. Perhaps if a project through the Llanos is greenlit. BTW it is also safer (derailment is almost impossible) , magnetic levitation is the safest, most energy efficient, and fastest (by land) system available anywhere.

What if it fails?

Well we gave it our best shot, which is still better than doing the rain dance... or its modern equivalent of kissing foreign capital's ass.

The green line is more or less the path of the current highway, with the world famous Viaduct 1 located near the greenest part of the lower line.


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