GERMANY: ‘This is not the end of the Transrapid maglev technology’, affirmed Transrapid International on April 2 last year after the proposed 37 km maglev line linking München city centre with the airport was abandoned (RG 5.08 p290).

The words returned to haunt the company on December 10 when Niedersachsen Economics Minister Walter Hirche announced after a meeting with federal officials and industry representatives that testing on the Emsland test track would cease on June 30 2009.

Ever since the world’s first passenger-carrying maglev vehicle was unveiled to the press at Ottobrunn on May 6 1971, Germany’s maglev technology had been heavily promoted across the world by its suppliers and - more equivocally - by successive German governments.

After 37 years of tests and experiments, the 31 km Transrapid operation between Shanghai airport and Pudong remains the world’s only commercial high speed maglev. Over the same period, according to UIC figures, 9 400 km of high speed railway with steel rails have been commissioned, with a further 8 295 km under construction. Need we say more?