Japan currently has the fastest train in the world.
Elon Musk may dream of a Hyperloop future where we zip through pneumatic tubes from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes. But it’s still just a dream.
Across the Pacific, they’re getting things done.
Japan Rail is rolling out a brand-new train that can hit 311 miles per hour. It’s called the JR Tokai L0 Series Shinkansen, and as it’s magnetically levitated, it hovers above the track for smooth, frictionless travel in any weather.
Slated to begin functional service in 2027, it’s only running a test route between Tokyo and Nagoya for now. The train features an extremely long and angular front car to reduce air resistance. Trains will be up to 16 cars long and can carry up to 1,000 passengers at a time as they shuttle between the two cities. It’s a 200-mile trip by automobile, but this train will complete a run in 40 minutes. Other bullet trains take up to 95 minutes to make the same trip.
For all its technological promise, the train brings a big financial burden to the table — it will cost around $US100 billion to build a finished mag-lev line from Tokyo to the ultimate finishing point of Osaka, some 500 miles away.
If everything goes according to plans with time and money, the Japanese will be able to move around their country far more quickly than ever before.
The mag-lev track is designed such that appropriate sides of magnets in the track (red) face the magnets in the train car (green) such that they repel each other and the train can levitate.
Onboard monitors give passengers a reading of what the train is doing, and a live video feed lets them see what's ahead.
The speed climbs and climbs until it's nearly topped out at 500 kilometers per hour, or roughly 310 miles per hour.
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