Today, Japan’s maglev (magnetic levitation) train set a world speed record, traveling at a blazing 375 mph (603 kph) on a test track. Just a few days before, the train had set a world record when the Central Japan Railway Company’s high-speed train hit an also impressive 366 mph (590 kph) on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture west of Tokyo. Prior to that, the previous world record was set by the rail company in 2003.
The testing is in preparation for commercial train service connecting Tokyo with Nagoya that will whisk passengers the 178 mile (286 km) distance between the two cities in just 40 minutes at a top speed of 314 mph (505 kph). The company hopes to have the system running by 2027. In October, the Japanese government approved construction of what will be the world’s fastest train line.
To put into perspective how much faster maglev is compared to conventional high-speed rail, California’s bullet train will reach a top speed of 220 mph (350 kph) when service between Los Angeles and San Francisco begins in 2029. The United States’ first true high-speed rail system is currently under construction in the Central Valley. Amtrak’s Acela service from Washington to Boston tops out at 150 mph (241 kph).
Japan wants to export its maglev technology and the U.S. is a prime target. JR Central wants to build a maglev line between Washington and New York City. The Northeast Maglev would zip commuters from D.C. to NYC in less than an hour and to show how serious Japan is about getting it done, the government has offered to cover several billion dollars in the cost of constructing the first segment of the maglev line between D.C. and Baltimore. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to promote the country’s maglev technology on a visit to the U.S. starting April 26.