SkyTrain’s Daddy – The Krauss Maffei Transurban MAGLEV Which Could Not Turn Corners

OK children, a little history lesson, SkyTrain ancestor, The Krauss Maffei Transurban MAGLEV.

For those who believe that, what we call SkyTrain, is a great Canadian invention, will be sad to hear it is not, not even close; it is a mix and match transit system, using largely discarded 1960’s and 70’s technology.

Krauss-Maffei’s Transurban was a 12-passenger automated guideway transit (AGT) mass transit system based on a MAGLEV guideway. Development started in 1970 as one of the many AGT and PRT projects of the age. Its selection as the basis of the GO-Urban system in Toronto in 1973 made it well known in the industry; it would have been the basis of the first large-area AGT mass transit network in the world.

The suspension used attractive magnetic levitation, lifted on two upside-down T-shaped beams.

Technical problems cropped up during the construction of the test track, and the sudden removal of funding by the West German government led to the project’s cancellation in late 1974.

Given the technical problems including problems turning corners, the Ontario government decided to abandon the MAGLEV concept. Instead, they took the basic train design, linear motor, SEL (Standard Electric Lorenz) control system and other features of the Transurban, and redesigned it to run on conventional steel wheels. The result was the “ICTS” system. Announced in June 1975, the government formed the new Urban Transportation Development Corporation, in partnership with five industrial firms.

Today known as the Innovia Advanced Rapid Transit (ART), ICTSALRT/ART is the basis for only seven such systems built in the past 40 years, of which only three are seriously used for urban transit.


3 Responses to “SkyTrain’s Daddy – The Krauss Maffei Transurban MAGLEV Which Could Not Turn Corners”
  1. A. Templeton says:

    Yes, I worked on this maglev in the 70’s and what a waste of money.

    From the beginning it proved to be very badly designed, but the Linear motors were very troublesome, god knows why the UTDC used them?

    At the time the transit experts just wanted modern streetcars, like those in Germany, not this.

    I use skytrain a lot but if we just used German streetcars, like everyone else, we would have much better transit.

  2. eric chris says:

    It looks like the e-tricycle for fast and convenient transportation between Commercial Drive and UBC is the missing link to kill the $5 billion plus cost of the subway line to UBC. Prediction: TransLink is soon to be no more. Changes are on the way. Both the provincial and federal governments will pull funding for the subway line and cite its negative social and environmental impacts as the reasons. The goal of the start-up e-tricycle firm is to substitute as many carbon emitting transit users on the 99 B-Line as possible:

  3. Langley says:

    The subway to UBC will be built.

    Zwei replies: The cost of the subway, just to Arbutus is around $3 billion and the estimated cost to go to UBC, all found is over $5 billion.

    I don’t think so and I think TransLink doesn’t think so either as they are adding a B-Line express bus servcie along 41st., which will take pressure off the Broadway B-Line.

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