A record for the world’s fastest train has been set – at 603 kilometers per hour (375 miles per hour).
A Central Japan Railway Co. magnetic-levitation train traveled at the record-breaking speed in a test run within Yamanashi prefecture, beating the company’s own record of 590 kmph set last week. JR Central, as the company is also known, held the record since 2003, when its train hurtled at 581 kmph. At the record speed, a London-Paris journey would be over in about 50 minutes, less than a quarter of the current time.
The record-breaking run is part of the tests before JR Central can start commercial operations in 2027 on the Tokyo- Nagoya line, which it’s constructing at a cost of 5.52 trillion yen ($47 billion). Japan has been seeking to sell its high-speed train technology to the U.S. and previously had high-profile travelers such as then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and transportation secretary Ray LaHood five years ago.
Japan is looking for an overseas customer for maglev technology as the country works toward opening its first major line. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the government may provide financing to support Central Japan Railway Co.’s bid to provide trains for a Washington-Baltimore line.
Magnetic-levitation trains, or Maglevs, rely on magnetic power to float the cars above ground, eliminating the friction of steel tracks. The trains start off running on wheels until they’re going fast enough for the magnets to kick in and create lift.
In August 2013, JR Central started resuming trials for the maglevs that will complement the Shinkansen bullet-train network, which was introduced in 1964 and where trains now go as fast as 320 kmph. The company spent five years building a 24- kilometer extension of a test track to send coaches as fast as 500 kmph, the speed at which commercial operations will take place.
At that speed, the maglevs will whisk passengers to Nagoya from Tokyo in as little as 40 minutes for the 286-kilometer journey, from as short as 95 minutes.
Worldwide, two maglev lines are already operating. In Shanghai, a train built with technology developed by Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp AG whisks passengers along at 431 kmph from Pudong International Airport to the outskirts of the city’s financial district. A low-speed version called Linimo, with a top speed of 100 kmph, started operations on an 8.9 km track in Nagoya in 2005.
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This article was written by Kiyotaka Matsuda from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.