Japan’s maglev train hits top speed of 603 km/h in new world record
Japan's state-of-the-art maglev train clocked a new world speed record Tuesday in a test run near Mount Fuji, smashing through the 600 kilometers per hour mark, as Tokyo races to sell the technology abroad.
The seven-car maglev train - short for "magnetic levitation" - hit a top speed of 603 kilometers an hour, and managed nearly 11 seconds at over 600 kilometers per hour, operator Central Japan Railway said.
The new record came less than a week after the company recorded a top speed of 590 kilometers per hour, breaking its own 2003 record of 581 kilometers per hour.
The maglev hovers 10 centimeters above the tracks and is propelled by electrically charged magnets.
About 200 train buffs gathered to Tuesday's record-setting run, with the crowd cheering as the train broke through 600 kilometers per hour.
"It gave me chills. I really want to ride on the train," an elderly woman told public broadcaster NHK as the carriage rocketed past her.
"It's like I witnessed a new page in history."
An AFP reporter who previously rode on the super-speed train said the experience was like taking off in a plane, with the feeling of G-force gathering as the speedometer is pushed ever higher.
"The faster the train runs, the more stable it becomes. I think the quality of the train ride has improved," Yasukazu Endo, who heads the maglev test center southwest of Tokyo, told reporters Tuesday.
Central Japan Railway wants to have a maglev train in service in 2027, plying the route between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya, a distance of 286 kilometers.
The service, which would run at a top speed of 500 kilometers per hour, is expected to connect the two cities in only 40 minutes, less than half the present journey time in Japan's already speedy bullet trains.
By 2045, maglev trains are expected to link Tokyo and Osaka in just one hour and seven minutes, slashing the journey time in half.
However, construction costs for the dedicated lines are astronomical, estimated at nearly $100 billion just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80 percent of the route expected to go through costly tunnels.
Japan is looking to sell its Shinkansen bullet and maglev train systems overseas, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acting as a traveling salesman in his bid to revive the Japanese economy partly through infrastructure exports.
He is due in the US this weekend, where he will be touting the technology for a high-speed rail link between New York and Washington.(source:AFP )