The Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) yesterday unveiled a prototype it believes will bring faster train service than ever before to Japan.
The Series Lo prototype is a magnetic levitation (maglev) train, floating above its track and moving forward thanks to powerful magnets, the Japanese newspaper The Ashai Shimbun reported.
It will run from Tokyo to Nagoya, and travel as fast as 500 kilometers per hour (about 311 mph).
The idea of maglev-powered transportation has been around for more than a century. The first relevant patent was issued in 1905; Britain operated a low-speed maglev shuttle in Birmingham between 1984 and 1995. Today, only two commercial systems are in service.
The first began operation in Shanghai in 2004, followed in 2005 by a Japanese system called Linimo, which runs at only 60 mph, 20 percent of the top speed the JR Tokai predicts for the new maglev train.
Japan is already served by high-speed bullet trains, but maglev systems offer numerous advantages. As they are frictionless, they are faster and quieter than trains that use wheels, and are not impacted by bad weather.
JR Tokai plans to build a train that will seat nearly 1,000 passengers that will be in operation by 2027, and expand service to Osaka by 2045.