September 22, 2008 Plans announced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries could see a new record set for high-speed trains in Japan. The design for the rail vehicle dubbed the “Environmentally Friendly Super Express Train” (efSET) is expected to be completed by the end of 2009 and its promised operating speed has been pitched around the 217mph (350 kmh) mark, quicker than the fastest trains currently operating on the country's high-speed Shinkansen network which clock around 188mph (300kmh).
There's not much detail accompanying the announcement of the concept, but according to the company release the new design will focus on aerodynamics, reduced body-weight, energy-savings through regenerative braking systems and enhanced passenger comfort using active damping technology to smooth the ride as well as providing a high-level of sound insulation and panoramic views through the adoption of large windows.
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Kawasaki also hopes to export the new design to the world's growing network of high-speed railways, noting that several countries including the United States, Brazil, Russia, India and Vietnam have plans for new high-speed railway construction projects totally approximately 10,000 km in the next 20 years.
The final stage of design verification for the new train is timetabled for completion in March 2010.
The world's fastest train is the French TGV which set a 356 mph benchmark during testing in 2007 (to see what a train going this fast looks like see this video at metacafe). Both the TGV's and the German ICE trains operate at commercial speeds of 186 - 198 mph.