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Transrapid test track reopens after crash

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Transrapid test track reopens after crash
Photo: DPA
11:17 CEST+02:00
Two-and-a-half years after 23 people died in a maglev train collision, the Transrapid tracks in Lathen have reopened, daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Thursday.

High-speed magnetic levitation, or “maglev,” trains will now be available for test rides for potential investors after the Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) and experts from the state of Lower Saxony cleared it of safety concerns on Wednesday.

“The operating licence will always be restricted to individual interested parties and business delegations,” a state Economy Ministry spokesperson told the paper, adding that potential buyers should have the chance to experience how the technology works.

Only 20 passengers will be allowed to ride the Transrapid at a time.

The test track has been closed to investors since the fatal accident on September 22, 2006, when a test train travelling at 170 kilometres per hour (106 miles per hour) collided with a maintenance vehicle at high speed, killing 23 and severely injuring 11 other passengers.

In May 2008, two engineers were convicted of manslaughter for the accident, which the court said could have been avoided if a proper blocking of the track had been activated.

Problems have plagued plans to build Germany's first commercial maglev train line in Munich. In late March 2008 the government announced it was giving up on the €1.85-billion project due to a massive increase of costs.

The world's only operating Transrapid monorail is currently in Shanghai, China, running between the city centre and the airport. The train operates at speeds of up to 450 kilometres per hour (270 miles per hour).

New talks with Brazil and Iran recently began, though.

Meanwhile developers ThyssenKrupp and Siemens plan to shut down an Emsland testing facility in late June because research is finished and the train is ready to be put into practice.

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