Lori Zimmer

Japan Gives Green Light to Blazing 313 MPH Maglev Train Line

by , 06/20/11
filed under: Green Transportation, News

high speed trains, green design, eco design, sustainable design, Maglev trains, hover craft, Central Japan Railway, JR Tokai

The Central Japan Railway has just been granted the go-ahead to break ground on a massive maglev train line that will ferry high-speed trains across japan at blazing speeds up to 313 miles per hour. The hovering trains will connect Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka through lines that run much more efficiently than traditional trains. The project, which has been on the table since the 1970s, will cost the Japanese government a modest sum of 9 trillion yen.

high speed trains, green design, eco design, sustainable design, Maglev trains, hover craft, Central Japan Railway, JR Tokai

Maglev trains are known as the fastest in the world. Rather than running on traditional rails, these next-gen trains hover above the ground, which significantly reduces friction. The trains are levitated by a system that consists of coils laid beneath the tracks and super conducting magnets located on the trains. Repulsing and attracting electromagnetic forces propel the vehicles along at incomparable speeds.

Just how fast? Maglev trains can reach a speed of 313 mph, cutting the proposed route from Tokyo to Osaka to just over an hour. That is more than double the speed of Amtrak’s Acela Express High Speed Rail, which hits a top speed of 150 mph!

Much of the route is already built, but extensive tunnels must be constructed to run between the three cities. The tunnels will take up about 60% of the route, and also siphon most of the project’s giant budget. Construction of the tunnels isn’t anticipated to commence until 2014. The long-term project anticipates the Tokyo-Nagoya route to be completed in 2027, and the Tokyo-Osaka line will be finished in 2045.

Via Environmental News Service and Cleantechnica

Lead photo by Yui Kubo

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5 Comments

  1. elarue July 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I would hope that this would make its way to U.S. shores – either by adapting the current northeastern cooridor (Washington – NYC – Boston) or by building anew in California and the Pacific Coast.

  2. sammael July 2, 2011 at 8:28 am

    @captain ticktock

    You are forgetting Washington DC-New York-Boston Acela line, which has over 35% of combined train and air traffic in that area. revenue of over 440 million that regularly grows each year. And that is only semi-fast rail. Acela is currently investing in buying faster trains and adapting the rails.
    With air traffic’s growing prices and their pain in the ass surcharges and horrible treatement of the customers close and mid range travel by fast trains is becoming, once again, most popular option where available.
    Lazyreader did not do research, he was just listening to voices in his head.
    He completly missed the point (as usual). High speed trains are not competing against road traffic, they are competing against AIR traffic, which also don’t take you exactly where you want to go. (unless you want to visit an airport)

  3. captain ticktock June 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “Rail transit is largely obsolete.”

    Sweeping Troll. In London, Paris, New York and many other major cities in the world, railways are indispensible.

  4. lazyreader June 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I assume they’ve tested these vehicles extensively with full passengers. They built a maglev train in China. The Shanghai maglev demonstration line cost US$1.2 billion to build. his total includes infrastructure capital costs such as ROW clearing, extensive pile driving, on-site guideway manufacturing, in-situ pier construction every 25 meters, a maintenance facility and vehicle yard, several switches, two stations, operations and control systems, power feed system, cables and inverters, and operational training. Ridership was not the primary focus of this demonstration line. Following the opening, overall maglev train ridership levels were at 20 percent of capacity. The levels were attributed to limited operating hours, the short length of the line, high ticket prices and that it “virtually goes nowhere”, terminating at Longyang Road in Pudong another 20 min by subway from the city center. And that’s the point.

    Japan announced that it plans to raise funds for the construction of the Chūō Shinkansen; a maglev line of it’s own. Total cost, originally estimated at 5.1 trillion yen in 2007 has ballooned to over 9 trillion (roughly 112 billion dollars). They had one high speed rail line in the 60′s and it was the only line that ever made money. All the other Shinkansen routes in Japan lose cart-loads of cash, as high-speed trains do elsewhere in the world. Only indirect subsidies, creative accounting, political patronage and national chest-thumping keep them rolling. And the shear sums of money used to keep them maintained may have been one of the factors contributing to their market crash in the 90′s. But an even more serious problem is the economic effects. Japan is famous as a nation of savers, and most people save their money in Postal Service savings accounts. The bureaucracy finances its endless construction programs by borrowing from these accounts, which it can do off budget and virtually unregulated by the elected parliament. In 1960, when construction began on the Shinkansen, automobiles accounted for less than 5 percent of Japanese passenger travel, while rails carried 77 percent. But a nation that is rich enough to build high-speed trains is rich enough for its residents to buy and drive autos. The opening of bullet-train service coincided with a rapid acceleration of auto driving and a slowing of the growth of train travel. Not surprisingly, once one high-speed rail line had been built, politicians in other parts of the country felt their cities deserved such service as well, and they pressured JNR to borrow money to build more lines. By 1987, JNR’s debt exceeded 200 billion dollars. Since it was operating in the red, it seemed unlikely that this debt would ever be repaid. The government’s solution was to privatize the railways. The massive debt was to be repaid by selling unused railroad land (which never happened, and the debt is still on the government books). Free of debt, the private railroads were able to operate without major fare increases, which may be why ridership grew between 1985 and 1990. Initially, the privatized railway companies owned the low-speed rail lines and leased the high-speed lines. Later, the government “sold” them the high-speed lines with “deferred payments.” While rail operations may earn a profit, expansions of the high-speed rail network since 1987 continue to be heavily subsidized by national and local governments.

    The problem with any rail system, largely is it doesn’t start where you are and it seldom goes exactly where you want it to go. Rail transit is largely obsolete.

  5. Captain TickTock June 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Hopefully 313 mph is just for starters. In France, a specially modified (but still wheel-on-rail) TGV hit 357mph in trials on their latest high speed rail line. In service, they’l do 200 mph.

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