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Transrapid

Transrapid was a proposed high-speed rail link between Munich central station (Hauptbahnhof) and Munich Airport. This magnetic levitation "flying train" would have travelled the 37km journey in just 10 minutes, reaching a top speed of 350 km/h (220 mph). The first trains were scheduled to run in 2009 with a frequency of every 10 minutes.

However, the project was scrapped in March 2008 after industry admitted that the cost had jumped from €1.85 billion to over €3 billion. The project had attracted huge controversy, with many people arguing that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Opponents argued in favour of the MAEX (Munich Airport Express S-Bahn), which would have cost less to build and halved the current journey time of 40 minutes.



Transrapid is a German company which was formed out of a collaboration between Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. The German government is now very keen to build a Transrapid link on German soil as a symbol of German's technology prowess. So far only one Transrapid link has been commissioned - and that is in China. The Transrapid Shanghai links the Shanghai city center with the airport. It is a route of 30 km and was opened by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, amongst others, at the end of 2002.

There were plans to build a Transrapid in Nordrhein-Westfalen. This was the so called "Metrorapid Project" and would have been an 80 km connection between Dortmund, Essen, and Düsseldorf. The project was however abandoned in 2003 because it was deemed too expensive. So now the German government wanted to build a Transrapid in Munich instead. This would also fit in with Munich's image of being a high-tech center.

Many Bavarian politicians, and indeed a large section of the public, believe that €1.85 billion for a Maglev train is pure waste of money. An alternative scheme, the Munich Aiport Express, has been proposed. This is an express S-Bahn line that would run from Hauptbahnhof via Ostbahnhof to the airport alongside the existing S8 tracks. The project would cost around one-third that of the Transrapid, and the 20-minute journey time would represent a 25-minute saving on the current S-Bahn links. Proponents argue that, as this line would be integrated into the S-Bahn network, it would be of use to a much larger number of people, as well as being cheaper to use than the expected €20-€30 per journey cost of the Transrapid.

The planning stage was originally intended to be completed by the end of 2004. The first train would have run by the end of 2009. Instead, the project has become bogged down in controversy. In October 2007, however, the departing Bavarian CSU president Edmund Stoiber announced that funding had been secured and that the project would go ahead. Just six months later, the industry announced that costs had soared to over €3 billion, and the CSU confirmed that the project was dead.

The city administration in Munich was opposed to the project and had vowed to challenge the decision in court and in its capacity as a major shareholder in Munich Airport. Organisations opposed to the project organised a demonstration in Munich in November 2007 that attracted 13,000 people and had been proceeding with a referendum process when the scrapping of the project was announced (if 10% of the population register their support at a town hall within a 10-day period, the government is forced to call a referendum on the issue).

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