Among the many dazzling technologies in the new Marvel superhero film Black Panther—self-healing catsuits, holographic self-driving cars, indestructible woven capes—one technology is bittersweet to behold, at least for one subset of sci-fi nerd. That would be the trains.
Maglev, baby! But also no maglev 😭
But despite decades of development, maglev hasn’t spread widely across Asia, and it hasn’t taken off at all in the U.S. or Europe (excluding a now-shuttered airport line in the U.K., and a defunct test track in Germany.) That’s because traditional high-speed rail can run nearly as fast as maglev, is cheaper to build, and can connect to existing rail systems, whereas maglev guideways cannot. For many countries with rail networks already in place, it’s hard to justify spending billions of dollars on such a project.