The Central Japan Railway Company has completed the initial test of their newest high-speed train, the Shinkansen maglev, a train capable of speeds exceeding 500 km/h (311 mph) - an earth-shattering pace even when compared to Japan's current bullet train rail system. The new train uses maglev technology, or "magnetic levitation," which may sound like mystical dark sorcery, but in reality, is a technology that has been tested for over 10 years, though has rarely come into fruition, until now.
Magnetic levitation is achieved by using powerful electromagnets to not only propel the train forward, but also to lift the body of the train inches above the track, in effect reducing friction, and when coupled with its impressive aerodynamics, the train is able to cut through the air with maximized efficiency.
The earliest documentation of maglev technology being put to use in a public transit environment comes from China, where during 2003 a magnetically levitated train hit 500 km/h during a test run.
Japan's foray into the realm of publically-tested maglev rail transport began in late 2013, after a prototype was revealed in 2012. Unmanned test journeys took place over an 18km (11 miles) stretch of track, proving the train's velocity capabilities, though until today, the prospect of exceeding 500 km/h with passengers onboard was still largely unknown.
Of the almost 300,000 people that volunteered to ride the train during its test period, 2,400 were selected, and during the course of a week, lucky travelers will get to experience the fastest form of land-transport as it races over a 27 mile strip of Japanese countryside.
The system is due for completion in 2027, and is expected to run daily train service between Tokyo's Shinagawa Station, and the city of Nagoya, a trip that currently takes around 80 minutes. This journey will be halved to 40 minutes once the new maglev trains are fully operational.
The future of train travel-tech is often overlooked in favor of more common transportation methods, such as airlines, though recent advancements in rail technology are paving the way for a future of lightning-fast, low-emission, train travel. Both science teams in China, and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk have been in the process of designing train systems that run through airtight vacuums, which, in theory, would allow trains to reach speeds of 1,800 mph - a feat which could change the way we travel forever, allowing more people to escape their monotonous, day-to-day realities, and explore landscapes and destinations they never have had access to before.
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