The Central Japan Railway Co. (JRC) is resuming trials on the L-Zero maglev line between Nagoya and Tokyo with a maximum speed of a mind-bending 310 mph. That will cut the time it takes to make the 177-mile journey in half.
Maglev stands for magnetic levitation, and in place of having a train run on wheels and a track, maglev technology uses magnets to actually levitate the train on a magnetic guide rail. Maglev trains like the L-Zero rely on magnetic power to float above the ground, allowing the trains to nearly double the speed of the fastest bullet trains. Two other maglev trains are already operating: a train in Shanghai that travels at about 267 mph and a short-distance, lower-speed train between Nagoya and Tokyo that the L-Zero will eventually replace.
Alas, the JRC maglev train will not be open for passengers until 2027, though when it does open it will be the worlds longest maglev line. It will cut the 95 minute, 177-mile bullet train ride from Nagoya to Tokyo down to a mere 40 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it takes to clear security at the airport. By 2045 JRC is planning to extend the line to Osaka and attach it to an airport line in Shanghai.
It should come as no surprise that creating a maglev rail system is incredibly expensive. The JRC project is expected to cost some place between $52 and $90 BILLION DOLLARS. Additionally there is some concern that the Japanese population will not be large enough or use the system enough to sustain it, which at those prices is a very real concern. Nagoya is a city of 2.3 million people, and while shaving 55 minutes off of a 95-minute trip is impressive, the overall cost is staggering.
Meanwhile though, China is pushing forward their own high-speed rail plans, and could compete or even exceed Japan’s own ambitious maglev trains. Meanwhile it takes America’s fastest train, the Amtrak Acela, almost four hours to go just over 200 miles, and a proposed high-speed corridor connecting the East Coast wouldn’t be finished until 2040 even if the $117 billion in funding were secured tomorrow. Sigh.
Source | Image: Bloomberg
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison