Urban Transport

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

Two new maglev speed records s...
A maglev train broke the 600 km/h speed barrier in Japan (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)
A maglev train broke the 600 km/h speed barrier in Japan (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)
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A maglev train broke the 600 km/h speed barrier in Japan (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)
A maglev train broke the 600 km/h speed barrier in Japan (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)
Japan's high-speed maglev line is set to begin in 2027 (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)
Japan's high-speed maglev line is set to begin in 2027 (Image: Central Japan Railway Company)

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.

Source: Central Japan Railway Company

Not mentioned about the old rail system, it has high maintenance costs which involves people. In Japan, the low cost of labor has evaporated and the talk for 20 years has been to go to Maglev.
Here? Politicians are likely to favor rail, as the potential for lucrative kickbacks are hidden with each mile of track and each rail car and engine. The limit on speed, really starts to hurt vs auto or air travel, but don't worry, your TAX DOLLARS will buffer real world costs...
At 375 miles per hour or more, you really get a jump on short airliner hops, say from Houston to Dallas. The problem will be limiting ANY stops in the travel. Driving to the airport here in Houston is a nightmare, so there would have to be several HUBS to go to.
Finally, there are our dear sweet TERRORISTS who would love to terminate something hurdling down a set route near 400 miles per hour. A wreck would be spectacular and nearly as totally destructive as a plane hitting the ground at 500 Knots per hour. Sigh....
Derek Howe
Iwesson - Geez, you have a bad outlook...
I'm more of a glass half full guy. Cars are now hitting the road that are autonomous, meaning it drives you...on faster roads anyway, autonomy in cities is 2-3 years away still.
As for rail, yeah, are old rail network is slow, but it still moves a ton of freight. As for people getting around fast (other then by aircraft), have you heard of the hyperloop? They are building a test track now, who knows, a decade from now there might me a hyperloop system connecting a couple cities, and it will go around 600mph, putting maglev trains to shame. That said, maglev is a great method for moving trains, and should be adopted in the US, but it would take a ton of both money & political fortitude....which we are short on both.
Terrorists are the least of your worries. Shoulder fired SAM missiles that can fit in a suitcase are readily available. So in that context air travel is not all that safer if you take into account collateral damage of the crash in densely populated area.
Apart from the speed what this can provide is city center to city center transport, circumventing airport commute at both ends.
BTW I am assuming that the test was run without ANY passengers. How would it behave with train full of people is any one's guess.
I really do love Maglev, and got involved briefly in Texas Politics to support such a system. While involved, I got a glimpse at the politics. Nasty. That was over 20 years ago and politics are still in need of a disinfectant.
During WW2 the Germans did a film about the future of trains, and Maglev was the future. I have forgotten the name of the German Co. that pushed research on this.
The Terror aspect: Planes vs Trains. The window for taking down a plane with small weapons opens on take off and landing, confining locations near the very airport used. Trains: As any Train Robber would tell you, get them way out in the middle of nowhere. Hovering just a bit over the track, all sorts of mayhem can be caused by simple things.
Now to counter that, there could be a kind of 24/7 monitor of the Maglev bedway by laser sweeps alerting a train, maintenance, security well in advance...
I have read about the Hyperloop System. Amazing. And yes, we are short on cash & honest political fortitude. Sad Facts.