Two new maglev speed records set in a single week in Japan

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A maglev train broke the 600 km/h speed barrier in Japan (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)

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Central Japan Railway Company's high-speed maglev train has been busy setting records and then breaking them again in the past week. Most recently, the test train hit a top speed of 603 km/h (375 mph) on Tuesday, on the Yamanashi test track west of Tokyo in the foothills of Mount Fuji.

That was good enough to break the record of 590 km/h (367 mph) set just five days earlier on the same track. The previous Guinness Book of World Records speed for a manned train stood for several years and was held by the same train at 581 km/h (361 mph). According to the railway, the train sustained speeds over 600 km/h for 10.8 seconds on Tuesday, covering 1.8 km (1.1 miles) in that time.

The company says the Yamanashi maglev test line first became active in 1997 and over the past 18 years, the track has been extended, test vehicles have been improved and over 1.2 million km (745,645 miles) of test runs have been performed.

Railway workers were aboard the train for Tuesday's record-setting run. Last year, 100 train enthusiasts from the public took a similar test run on the maglev line at speeds of 500 km/h. The maglev system is set to be ready for actual commercial passengers traveling between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027.

There is some competition for Japan's maglev coming from the likes of a Chinese "super maglev" concept that scientists theorize could travel at up to 2,900 km/h (1,800 mph), a sword-inspired high-speed electric train or even Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept.

To see some of the even more far-out railways that have been conceived for the future, check out our top 10 list.

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