On May 9, Rotem and the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) revealed the co-developed magnetic levitation train, and held a trial run for reporters.
The train is an improved version of the magnetic levitation train used by 120,000 people at the 1993 Daejeon Expo. It has a peak speed of 110 kilometers per hour and can carry 135 people per compartment.
Professor Kim Dong-sung of KIMM, who participated in the development of the train, boasted, As maglev trains run in a levitated state, the noise and vibration is significantly lesser than trains with wheels. Maintenance costs are low, and it is an environment-friendly transportation that generates no environment pollution.
The lower part of the train is structured to wrap around the guideway, so there is little danger of derailment.
Moreover, as the weight on the tracks is evenly spread compared to trains with wheels, the bridge pier of elevated railways can be constructed further apart, cutting the construction costs by 10 to 30 percent compared to wheel trains.
In spring 2007, the general public will be able to ride maglev trains. With support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Rotem is planning to construct a one kilometer maglev railway between the Daejeon Expo Park and the National Science Museum, and start service in April, 2007. Korea is thus expected to become the third nation to commercialize the flower of the train industry, the maglev train, after Germany and Japan.
German company Siemens is operating a high-speed maglev train on a 32 kilometer track from downtown Shanghai, China to the airport, and Japan is running an urban-style maglev train on a 9-kilometer track within the Nagoya Aichi Expo site, similar to Korea.
Rotem, which has been developing maglev trains for 17 years from the days of its antecedent, Hyundai Motor Service, is deeply troubled.
This is because as local governments pursue LRT subways, they are reluctant to select domestic maglevs because it has never been operated before.
A KIMM researcher said, If Korean maglev trains are not commercialized soon, we will become dependent on Germany and Japan in terms of technology. If local governments select domestic maglev trains as the LRT subways, it will greatly contribute to Korea becoming a prominent nation in the field of next generation transportation.