Science

Maglev train breaks speed record

A Japanese maglev that is the fastest passenger train in the world has broken its own speed record. The train hovers above rails, suspended by powerful magnets.

Japanese train hits 603 km/h in test run

A Japanese maglev train that is the fastest passenger train in the world runs on the Maglev Test Line in Tsuru, about 80 km west of Tokyo Tuesday, the day the train reached 603 km/h in the test run. (Katsuya Miyagawa/Kyodo News/Associated Press)

A Japanese maglev that is the fastest passenger train in the world has broken its own speed record.

Operator JR Central said the train reached 603 km/h (375 miles per hour) in a test run on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 581 km/h set in 2003. The train traveled for just over a mile (1.8 km) at a speed exceeding 600 km/h.

The tests are developing technology for use on a future 410-km link that will reduce travel time between Tokyo and Osaka to just over an hour. (Junko Ozaki/Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japan's high-speed rail services are among the most advanced in the world, with hundreds of trains running each day with minimal delays. However, unlike regular shinkansen or "bullet trains" that run on steel rails, magnetic levitation trains hover above rails, suspended by powerful magnets.

The Maglev Test Line, near Mount Fuji about 80 km west of Tokyo, is developing technology for use on a future 410-km link that will reduce travel time between Tokyo and Osaka to just over an hour. The current minimum by bullet train is nearly three hours.

The maglev trains, begun as a project of Japan Airlines and the national railways with government support, have undergone decades of testing. Construction of the Tokyo-Osaka link, which is expected to cost more than 9 trillion yen ($90 billion Cdn), began in 2014.

The line, which will mostly run under mountains, is due to begin operations in the late 2020s. A similar system operates in Shanghai, linking its airport in the seaside suburbs of Pudong to the city's subway system.

The train, seen in a 2004 photo, set a previous speed record of 581 km/h in 2003. (Reuters)

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