As for the discussion about a freight version of the maglev train, one should recall that when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder toured the Gulf-Arabian states in March 2005, and was surprised to find the Arabs more interested, in the freight version, for their planned 800-kilometer Gulf Coast Railway project, than in the passenger version. The reason for that is, that a high-speed freight link from the rich mineral resources that Saudi Arabia has in its north, to the ports along the Gulf coast, would make the development of these northern areas much more efficient. The population density in the Gulf-Arabian states is, at least now, not so great, that a maglev passenger train were necessary. The Germans could tell the Arabs not much more, in 2005, than that a freight maglev were possible, but the system was not available yet.
Indeed, some preliminary thought was given to freight maglev by German maglev engineers already during the 1990s, but the years of Transrapid standstill in Germany have blocked any more in-depth public discussion about it. Sources have, however, told representatives of the LaRouche movement in private, that a first-generation freight maglev could be realized instantly, through a simple re-tooling of a Trans-rapid passenger train into a unit for transport of standard as well as smaller-sized containers. A second-generation train could be developed, then, for speeds up to 300 kilometers/hour, superior to any longer-distance truck transport in any case, and fully capable to replace air freight.
The interest in freight maglevs was corroborated just several weeks ago, in a discussion this news service had with a senior official of the Parchim district (midway between Hamburg and Berlin), on perspectives of the Chinese purchase of the airport there for air freight between Europe and China and Russia, being combined with a maglev project. The official said that, indeed, when the Hamburg-Berlin was still on the agenda during the 1990s, there was the idea to use that track during largely passenger-free night-time periods for freight transport. That would have made Hamburg-Berlin doubly efficient. Decision-makers were too dumb, however, to understand that, he added.