The Shanghai maglev train in Shanghai, China, connecting Shanghai Pudong International Airport with the city. Maglev (magnetic levitation) train systems are regarded by some people as a form of gadgetbahn.

From English gadget +‎ German Bahn (route, trail; rail transport; train, tram).



gadgetbahn (plural gadgetbahns or gadgetbahnen)

  1. (transport, derogatory, slang) A public transportation scheme based on modern technology which seems to be infeasible or unnecessary.
    • 2002 November 25, Michael D. Setty; Leroy W. Demery, Jr., “Conventional Rail vs. ‘Gadgetbahnen’”, in Planetizen[1], Los Angeles, Calif., archived from the original on 2 May 2021:
      To cite a favorite example of gadgetbahnen enthusiasts, automated train operation is as easily applied to conventional rail as monorails, as demonstrated by the Vancouver, BC, Skytrain (which uses standard railroad technology, not monorail as some Seattle monorail boosters apparently believe). [] To some extent, the promising concept of bus rapid transit (BRT) has also suffered from the "gadgetbahnen" mentality.
    • 2007 March 16, Marc Albert, “Newfangled rail system for Alameda Point questioned”, in The Alameda Sun[2], Alameda, Calif.: Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky, OCLC 37876439, archived from the original on 22 May 2013:
      Ken Avidor, a Minnesota transit advocate and critic of similarly proposed systems, called the project the latest iteration of "gadgetbahn," a play on "autobahn" the German word for freeway. Gadgetbahn refers to highly technological transport systems relying on untried innovations. "All of these gadgetbahn projects always rely on totally unrealistic cost estimates," he said.
    • [2016 June 6, Josh Zumbrun, “Uphill climb: Cities push gondolas on skeptical commuters”, in The Wall Street Journal[3], New York, N.Y.: Dow Jones & Company, ISSN 0099-9660, OCLC 36098632, archived from the original on 10 March 2021:
      In transit communities, projects that sound complicated and unnecessary go by the German epithet "gadgetbahn." If early gondolas are successful, advocates hope gondolas can shake this label.]
    • [2020 November 18, Gareth Dennis, “Can Cambridgeshire plan transform transportation?”, in Rail, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, ISSN 0953-4563, OCLC 999467860, page 64:
      Have you heard the word "gadgetbahn"? It's a portmanteau coined to describe transport proposals that, to all intents and purposes, ought to be delivered using proven railway technology … and yet go out of their way to be anything but a railway.]
    • 2021 April 28, “East West Rail Company responds over debate on northern approach into Cambridge, freight and technology”, in Paul Brackley, editor, Cambridge Independent[4], Milton, Cambridgeshire: Iliffe Media, ISSN 2398-8959, OCLC 1064919081, archived from the original on 28 April 2021:
      [I]t is important to remember that we have to design the railway now on the basis of current engineering possibilities, as opposed to unidentified and untested technologies – sometimes referred to as ‘gadgetbahns’ – that may or may not be available, suitable or safe in the future.
      Apparently an isolated use of this plural form.

Usage notesEdit

Transportation concepts often labelled as gadgetbahns include maglev, monorail, hyperloop, and personal rapid transit.


Further readingEdit