Halastjarna (ingerish: comet) is a high speed maglev transportation system in Norðurland. It is researched and developed since 1970. After the fist successful small scale testing attempts, a larger test track was built in 1984. Since 2009, the system is in public service with a track from Markvað to Helgurreykir. In 2014, the service was prolonged from Markvað to Þærmanður, with an overall operating length of 440 km. The long term goal is to establish a rapid passenger transport link between Markvað and Frjálshöfn. However, the realization of this project is highly disputed.
The university of Frjálshöfn was and is traditionally strong in physics sciences. During the 1960's, the faculty of physics yielded considerable success on the fields of electromagnetism and superconduction. In 1968, a team of scientists came up with the idea of a transportation system based on supraconduction.
The first concepts proposed a train with superconductive electrodynamic induction coils. However, this idea was quickly abandoned as the supraconductive environment proved as too expensive for a large scale commercial application like this. In 1971, a short test track of 1.000 metres length was installed on the university grounds of Frjálshöfn. A first test vehicle was built, which reached around 150 kph. The first field tests on the university grounds proved the general functionality of the system. However, the concept of a short stator driven train was abandoned in favour of a long stator variant. With a short stator, the magnetic power is produced from the vehicle, which leads to the need of a third rail on the trackbed. With a long stator variant, the magnetic power is produced from the trackbed itself and the vehicle hovers a few millimetres above the track. This minimizes friction and attrition. The power inside the vehicle, which is needed for the board computer, lights, heating etc. is produced via electromagnetic induction. In 1974, the test track was already 3.000 metres long and the first passenger test vehicle reached a speed of 350 kph. Also, now a second small test track for a supraconductive passenger system was built. 1976, the military advisor of transport demanded a conclusive paper of the development status of the project, with a recommendation for the most promising modus. The science group opted for the long stator variant and the advisor approved a budget for a new, large-scale test track.
In 1979, the new segulsviflest tilraunaðstaða was opened near the city of Hólmillivatnið. It had a straight track with a length of 15 km and reversing loops with a diameter of 4.8 km at both ends, leading to a total length of around 45 km.
Maturity phase and search for a use case
The change of government in 1984 had influences on the test plant. During the first years, the government had to stop further investments in the technology as other parts of the budgeting needed more attention. However, in 1987, the test plant was extended one last time. The loop at the south side of the test track was replaced by a loop with a diameter of 20 km, now fully surrounding the city of Hólmillivatnið. This allowed the testing of the train's behaviour in curves with high speed. Additionally, a small section of the track was built as a tunnel to test the behaviour of the train inside of tunnels. The extension was mostly payed by the planning consortium itself while the government offered the land. With this loop, the length of the test track was doubled to 120 km, which is unusally high for a facility like this.
Markvað - Helgurreykir
Markvað - Þærmanður
Þærmanður - Frjálshöfn
The main goal of the Halastjarna development in Norðurland is a direct maglev link between Markvað and Frjálshöfn. This line would have four additional stops in the Toðavúr region, in Hoþalmir, in Stykishólmur and in Elsteð, reaching a length of about 1.400 to 1.500 km. In Bjarneland, it would mostly follow conventional high speed rail tracks which today are in the construction phase. The Hleðesund crossing would be partly parallel to those tracks, but a completely new tunnel system would be neccessary. In Sigurðland, the tracks would follow the southern coastline before finally reaching Fjálshöfn. With the given travel speed of approx. 500 kph, the total travel time from Markvað to Frjálshöfn would be around 3 hours nonstop to 4 hours with stops. In comparison, a standard high speed train with 300 kph speed would travel for almost 6 hours nonstop on the shortest possible relation (1.600 km). Considering the larger amount of stops underway and the less performant accelerating and braking behaviour, as well as the usage of tracks which are not capable of high speed trains (in city areas), the realistic travel time is about 8 to 9 hours.
The completion of this line would be extremely expensive, even for the very generous norlensk public transport financing model. However, the Halastjarna planning and construction syndicate showed interest in supporting the construction of the line on condition of the license to run the service for at least 50 years.
As the line would follow mostly conventional high speed tracks, it's sense is critizised as it doesn't offer new relations, only more travel speed. In the eyes of those critics, the norlensk rail network is already very well developed, with lots of additional high speed connections under construction or in the planning phase.
Sólinfylki, which probably would serve best for new Halastjarna routes due to the dense population, is very well-served by the "traditional" rail network, several high-speed lines are in the construction phase. Additionally, the distances between important cities are pretty short, so the maglev system would not be able to play off the traditional highspeed railroad more than a couple of minutes.
In the rest of Norðurland, only a few routes would be eligible for such a high speed network. Beyond Frjálshöfn, a relation to Baunvöllur or even Jaðafor would be conceivable. Another discussed relation is Silfurvík - Þærmanður - Helgurreykir - Lústrevík. However, all those relations are currently valorized with traditional high speed railroads.
A more interesting use case would be the interconnection of international destinations like Lynchester, Winburgh, Finist, Velin. The operating company published a pilot study, connecting Norðurland with several cities in Ingerland, Slavonia, Swaldia, Florescenta, Scandmark and even Kalm. However, the study didn't acquire much vogue.
Some countries showed certain interest in the technology, however, they didn't decided to make use of it or settled to a different type of technology. For example, Zylanda and Lorredion showed interest in the Halastjarna technology, however, they finally decided to abandon the efforts and settled for a different type of technology (see POW!).
Until 2025, the Halastjarna network will be prolonged from Þærmanður over Stykishólmur, and Elsteð to Frjálshöfn. To speed up the construction process, the high speed railway tunnels under the Hle∂esund which are currently under construction, will "borrow" a track to the Halastjarna system. In parallel, new tunnels will be built in parallel to the existing ones, so that until 2030, both systems will have two tracks and can operate in full capacity. Also until 2030, the route will be prolonged to , Frederikshöfn and Ja∂afor, branching in Fleiribæjarhla∂I.