TRANSPORT: Legendary train on display at Railworld

A SPACE age train, hailed in the 1960s as the future of travel, has been spruced up and is on display in the city.

A SPACE age train, hailed in the 1960s as the future of travel, has been spruced up and is on display in the city.Railworld's hovertrain, Research Test Vehicle 31 (RTV31), has been given a lick of paint to mark its 30th birthday.

The RTV31 was one of the first hovertrains to be built. It was designed for a project running between 1967 and 1973 at Earith, Fenland.

The train paved the way for tracked hovercraft schemes to be set up all over the world.

John Crane, from Railworld, in Oundle Road, Peterborough, said: "This is a very important train. It is a relic from when Britain was well ahead in the idea of hovertrains.

He explained that unfortunately, the Government shut down the project in 1973.

"So while other countries now have hovertrains, Britain never had them," he said. "But this could have been the first to run."

The centre spent 3,000 on the makeover.

The RTV31 stands proudly on a concrete track about eight feet off the ground. It now has a shining red, white and blue livery.

Hovercraft run on a cushion of air. These energy-efficient, quiet trains are still in use in Japan, Italy, Germany and Sweden.

Railworld have had the RTV31 since 1996. The train was donated by Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire. It had been kept in the open at the university for more than 20 years.

The sample track on which the train rests was made in Tallington, near Stamford.

In 2001, Birmingham Airport gave Railworld one of its magnetic levitation railway carriages. Magnetic levitation works when magnetic poles repel each other, lifting the carriage off the ground.

Birmingham had the world's first commercial Maglev line, where a train reached speeds of 30mph.

Designed in Germany, built for China

PUBLIC interest in hovertrains is likely to increase drastically in the very near future.

The first high-speed tracked hovercraft looks set to be used commercially soon.

China will be commissioning its German-designed Maglev, or Magnetic Levitation, train in its eastern city of Shanghai in early 2004.

The Maglev will be the world's first high speed hovertrain in commercial service.

It is designed to cover 19 miles in a time of just 7.5 minutes.

The train will reach speeds of an estimated 240mph.