Germany's capital, Berlin, will build a 5-7 km maglev monorail as part of a bid to expand climate-friendly transportation. The initial stretch, viewed as a test, has no official route or construction date yet, but has been agreed by the city's coalition government.
The plan for the train, which uses powerful magnets opposing each other to keep the train just above the track as it moves, is budgeted at about €80 million. Officials point out that it not only is 'cleaner' than other forms of urban transport but is cheaper to build. The Berlin plan is for unmanned vehicles that can carry either passengers or freight.
Maglev used to be seen as a 'way in the future' technology, is in successful commercial operation on six routes in China, Japan and Korea, including the world speed record holder for trains at 632km/h. A number of projects are underway or proposed in other places, including Hamburg.
The system is actually not all that new to Germany or Berlin: in the late 1980s, a short maglev M-Bahn was built to connect two stations that lost their connection because of the Berlin Wall. When the wall was removed, the M-Bahn was demolished so its route could be reconnected to the subway system.