i spent one week in freezing germany, osnabruck and bochum to be exact. no, not a holiday, but a business trip involving factory visits and tests, because my company brought train buffer stops from RAWIE.
i left kuala lumpur international airport on 7th Feb 2010, 2359hrs, arriving in frankfurt 08 Feb 2010, 0715hrs after a 13 hour flight with some severe turbulences. at one point of the journey, i was jolted from my sleep by a massive plane jerking due to bad weather and turbulence. it was scary.
the first thing we did after landing at frankfurt was to go out and have a cigarette. yeah, bad habit.
after satisfying our appetite for smoke, we took another flight with lufthansa to dusseldorf, where we’re supposed to meet our contractor.
osnabruck. did some factory acceptance test at rawie’s headquarters.
apart from the customary factory visit, our friend from RAWIE, Mr. Torsten took us to see the R&D centre for maglev trains. maglev means “magnetic levitation”, i.e. the trains would not have any physical contact with the track it’s running on. instead, the train will “float” on the tracks using the principles of magnetism, you know how magnets of the same polarity will push away from each other? that’s the basis for the maglev train system.
the company doing the R&D on maglev train is thyssenkrup, a big steel manufacturing company in germany. herman kemper, the founder for thyssenkrup, started exploring magnetic levitation since 1938, way before the second world war. you can see that a lot of money has been poured into this idea, and the maglev train is not offered for public use yet, due to the high cost per kilometre, and since the R&D is still unfinished, the german authorities have not given any license for this to operate in germany.
but if you really want to get a ride on this maglev train, the only place that offers this for public use is shanghai, where the maglev train connects the city of shanghai and it’s airport.
the maglev train R&D was not without accidents. in 2006, during InnoTrans (International Trade Fair for Transport Technology), a group of journalists were killed during a test ride on a maglev train accident. the accident occured at their test track, where the maglev train collided with a track inspection vehicle at high speed. the track inspection vehicle was on the same track as the test train.
a memorial was erected in memory of the victims.
so that’s what we did in osnabruck. here are a few more pictures from the trip.
we left osnabruck on thursday to go to bochum, to visit another factory, thyssenkrup. thyssenkrup manufactures turnouts, switches and crossings, and other track components.
on saturday morning, we left bochum to dusseldorf, and then to frankfurt, and finally back to kuala lumpur. arrived in kuala lumpur on sunday, the next two days is chinese new year holidays. good timing, i have two days to rest before coming back to work.
the weather in germany was subzero, so coming back to kuala lumpur is a relief for me. i mean, to experience winter is nice, but i’m more comfortable in malaysian weather.