Monster Machines: World's Fastest Train Will Float On Electromagnetism

The fastest train in America, the Amtrak Acela line running from Boston and DC tops out at 177km/h. Sure, that's way faster than taking a Greyhound, but pathetically pokey compared to the 500km/h bullet of the Mag-Lev train currently being developed by Japan's JR Tokai.

Dubbed the Series L0, this prototype commuter train will reportedly carry up to 1000 riders in 16 cars per trip. Like other bullet trains, the L0 relies on magnetic levitation -- whereby an object is suspended using nothing but magnetic fields -- for its propulsion and support. While Mag-Lev systems are more technically challenging and expensive to build than conventional train systems, their unique magnetic ability translates into a quieter, smoother ride for passengers and significantly reduced maintenance costs for the train operators. What's more, because there is no friction between the train and the track it travels over, Mag-Lev trains can accelerate to speeds far beyond what conventional, wheeled locomotives can obtain.

When the train enters service in 2027, it will travel between Tokyo and Nagoya, two of Japan's busiest transportation hubs along the famous Chuo Shinkansen Line, which already carries much of the country's high-speed rail traffic. The 247km trip from Tokyo to Nagoya will drop from 90 minutes to just 40. Most of the trip will occur 40 metres underground in specially built tunnels. By 2045, authorities plan to expand the route all the way to Osaka -- at 500km/h the Tokyo-Osaka transit time will just over an hour for the roughly 500km trip.

Fifteen years may seem an interminably long time to wait for a speedier ride but Mitsubishi and Nippon Sharyo have already begun construction on 14 pre-production models and a five-car test train is expected to hit the tracks by next year.

Motherboard - Asahi - Business Insider - Wikipedia - Daniel Irimia]


    Man wouldn't something like this train connecting Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne be a boon to travel around the east coast of Australia. Melbourne to Sydney in 2 hours or so and not having to deal with the crap that goes on at airports.

      I think it would be a great idea. Going to Sydney some time in December for a business trip and I'd much rather just jump on a train.

        But at what cost? It's more expensive to travel by regular train then fly. I'd rather deal with the crap in this scenario.

          Cost would definitely be a critical factor (and probably why we don't already have one).

            It's around $120-130 from Osaka to Tokyo as it is now in a country where the cost of living and wages are lower than here. I think about $200 wouldn't be unexpected for the new lines. If you brought the service to Australia, I'd say it'd be much more than that, especially if you consider the population difference.

            I was also curious about what they were going to do with the tunnels. The train would have made a hell of a lot of noise coming out of tunnels. They solved it for the current trains but still have to limit the speeds because they can make a hell of a racke

      Work in rail myself and one of the issues that prevents this is a natural one. You've got the Great Dividing range snaking its way right down the east coast too. Having such a big obstacle to tunnel through is one of the factors holding back HSR

    building high speed rail TUNNELS in an area of high tectonic movement is madness - right ?

      Actually, my best friends brother was in Sendai 10 minutes before the quake hit this year. He survived, completely unaffected because the Shinkansen (bullet train) he just caught was in a tunnel at the time of the quake. they lost power and were stuck in there for several hours, but no injuries or deaths on that train.

        indeed, the earthquake detection system in japan is so advanced, that you would pretty much have to have the train be on top of the epicenter to have a chance of being affected by the earthquake while at speed.

        Becuase there are so many earthquake detection stations, and they are so advanced, they can usually detect the quake, determine if it is a danger to the trains, and send the signal to the trains long enough before the shockwave hits that it can slow down quite a bit.

          Not to mention the shinkansen's safety record. 48-years running and no fatalities due to derailment or collisions. (Apparently one fatality due to a door closing on a passenger O_o) Safety is a very big thing for any Railway Operator and that track record is honestly the envy of many of them across the world. So I'd wager that they know what they're doing when it comes to building a new line.

      no the tunnels will all be floating in electromagnetic fields.

    Couple of things....
    Bullet trains generally run on wheels....
    The fastest train in the world also runs on wheels.. Unless it has been beaten recently, the chinese have the fastest train and it runs on wheels.... (Something like 581 km/hr = 360 mi/hr)

    Everyone dreams of fast maglev trains, (and they are fast) but in the end, the Low maintenance trains may really be energy hogs (also low-temp superconductors aren't really low maintenance in my world.) ... in the end, whichever costs less will be used more widely...

      Yes, the Chinese have the fastest train (as far as I can remember that is, I might be wrong). I wouldn't get on them personally because if they ever crash, the chinese will bury me alive on the spot and tell the whole world nothing has happened. btw, if my information are correct, the Japanese and the Germans are capable of making trains as fast as the Chinese but they were concerned about safety so they didn't make them.

      (before anyone accuse me of being racist, I am Chinese.)

        I love the notion that being of a particular nationality can exempt you from being racist towards it.

          We asians love a bit of self-deprecation :)

          Looks like I'll be about 40 years old when this train is completed :/

          Last edited 30/11/12 3:05 am

            actually, i was just being brutally honest.

      Did you watch the second video? these guys broke the record and got to 581km/hr. also the maglev trains don't use superconductors for levitation. Traditional wheeled trains create huge costs in track repair and wheel replacement, not to mention delays cause by track work.

      As mavx4 wrote, the Chinese might say they can get 500km/h, but they'd do it in the same way as Russians tested space travel - as though the passengers are just dogs. And yes, they literally buried people alive when in their last HSR derailment.

      The Chinese are switching to maglev for their HSR routes. Their fastest wheeled train is 311mph or about 500km/h, but actual operating speeds are lower. The Japanese maglev test, with passengers, ran at 581km/h as you saw in the video above.

      As far as maintenance goes, wheeled rail is extremely sensitive to track condition, where even slight variations in grade or cant result in derailment at very high speeds. Maglev track has a higher initial cost but much lower ongoing maintenance.

    I dont understand or speak Japanese. Have you ever heard of subtitles?

    " Like other bullet trains, the L0 relies on magnetic levitation"

    Aside from the last 50 or so years of 'bullet trains', sure. Sigh...

      Yeah, the article is wrong. It should have said "Unlike other bullet trains".

    Gotta love the date on the second video, 2005.... giz, are we a little slow on news today....

    At these speeds, aerodynamics will provide the lifting force..... should reduce steady state running cost..

    How is this news exactly? The German designed maglev train has been running in China for years already.

    Right away I am going away to do my breakfast, afterward
    having my breakfast coming again to read further news.

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