America Should Envy This Speed Record-Shattering Japanese Bullet Train

America Should Envy This Speed Record-Shattering Japanese Bullet Train

The Central Japan Railway Company’s maglev bullet train hit 589km/h yesterday in a test, a record-setting clip that breaks the the 12-year-old landspeed record of 581km/h, the Wall Street Journal reports.

That’s crazy fast, and much faster than the train will go when it starts carrying passengers in 2027. (The video above shows the train being tested last year.) Meanwhile, North America’s Amtrak tops out at 241km/h.)

Though it seems like wheeled and maglev trains aren’t that far apart right now in the record books, remember that maglev is still relatively new tech, whereas the wheeled train’s maxing out on its potential.

Magnetic levitation trans run — or hover, really — on magnetic tracks that reduce friction and allow the trains to travel at theoretical speeds much higher than what you can get with rails. For comparison, the world’s fastest conventional wheeled train was hit by a TGV train on the LGV Est line of France’s high-speed network. It went 575km/h.

In the United States, the big advancements in train technology aren’t magnetic at all. GE just competed tests on its new high-speed locomotive, which cut particulate matter emissions by 70 per cent and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 76 per cent.

An approved plan to introduce a maglev train line connecting Florida’s major cities was killed in 2011 when Governor Rick Scott refused federal funding for the project, a matter that was ultimately settled by the US Supreme Court. The voter approved high-speed line in California would run on wheels and hit a top speed of a meagre 354km/h.


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