World’s first commercial Maglev Vehicle for sale

Thursday 18, November 2010


World’s first commercial Maglev Vehicle for sale


Birmingham Airport is selling a piece of history – all in a good cause.


Maglev (MAGnetic LEVitation) was the World's first commercial automated Maglev people-mover system, and Birmingham Airport is selling off one of the historic cars to raise money for Help for Heroes and Acorns Children’s Hospice.


Maglev ran from the Airport terminal to the nearby Birmingham International railway station between 1984–1995 – a distance of around 600 metres.


For many it was their first experience of flying – albeit at an altitude of just 15 millimetres, thanks to powerful magnetic forces which kept the cars off the ground.


Maglev was in operation for nearly eleven years, but problems with the first-generation electronic systems made it unreliable in its later years. It was replaced with a cable system, similar to some trams or cable cars. One of the cars went to a museum, whilst the other has spent its retirement in an obscure corner of the Airport.


Maglev was based on the principle of the linear induction motor, which was invented by Professor Laithwaite of Imperial College in 1964.


The linear motor captured the spirit of the times, and people were intrigued that it does not need contact between the vehicle and guide way. It became a common item on technology programmes such as ‘Tomorrows World’, as it was envisaged for many advanced transportation systems being developed in the 1960s and 70s. 


The technology, from its birth in the Midlands (it was assembled at Metro-Cammell’s Washwood Heath Factory), has gone on to be developed around the World. Although the Birmingham Maglev had a top speed of 26 mph, the Japanese have successfully run at a speed of 361 mph.


Birmingham Airport’s Head of Government and Industry Affairs, John Morris, said, "The remaining car is a great reminder of the innovation that Birmingham and the Midlands stands for. Although it will never move under its own power again, it could make an excellent Summer House or Greenhouse.


“We are asking for a donation that we can pass on to our staff’s nominated Charity – Acorns – as well as to Help for Heroes.


“The user will be expected to collect and all the usual disclaimers about ‘sold as seen’ apply!”


Prospective purchasers should search eBay for ‘MAGLEV’. Serious bidders will be provided with a viewing opportunity (date to be advised); however on no account will casual visitors be given access. 



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