Japan is well-known for having some of the fastest trains in the world. Its network of Shinkasen ‘bullet trains’ have been crisscrossing the country since their first construction in the 1960s. However, since then, the company has fallen somewhat behind in terms of rail innovation, with the fastest trains moving to France and China. Now however, the title has returned home, but this time in a somewhat unusual form.
The new fastest train in the world, isn't really a train at all in the conventional sense. Rather it is what is called in the industry a ‘Maglev’. A Maglev, as its name suggests is a vehicle that is powered by the principles of magnetic levitation. A series of electromagnets power the train forwards as it floats several centimeters above a set of high tech tracks. Due to the fact that the train has no friction with its rails it can reach incredibly fast speeds.
While this technology is not new (a Maglev train has serviced the Shanghai Pudong Airport since 2004), the new one built in Japan is by far the fastest in the world. The test track, built between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki near Tokyo has trains which can reach speeds in excess of 500 km/h. To put this in perspective, it is significantly faster than light planes, or even helicopters.
Watch the video below of the first 100 test passengers being amazing by the train’s phenomenal speed!
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