Print 45 comment(s) - last by DeepBlue1975.. on Dec 3 at 5:52 PM

Train will speed along at 311 mph, will carry 900+ passengers

Maglev trains represent a perplexing puzzle to civil engineers.  While the price of entry can be much higher than traditional rail based trains, maglevs -- trains held aloft by powerful electro magnets -- experience no friction, meaning they cost far less to maintain.

But the high construction costs have meant that only two commercial maglevs are currently in existence.  Now the home nation of one of those two high-tech rail systems -- Japan -- is dreaming of a far more ambitious maglev line connecting Tokyo and Osaka with trains travelling safely at 311 mph.

Japan's current maglev system is only 8.9 kilometers (5.9 miles) long, and is located in Aichi, near the city of Nagoya.  Dubbed "Linimo", the line operates at a "lowly" cruising speed of 62 mph.  The line has struggled with losses in recent years and cost over $100M USD per km to construct.

But those struggles have not swayed Central Japan Railway Comp. (JR Tokai) (TYO:9022), which plans to deploy the sleek Series L0 prototype in 2027.  The front car will stretch ninety-two feet, with over half of that length devoted to an aerodynamic nose cone.  It will haul 14 carriages, each with 68 passengers in rows of four seats, with the exception of the last carriage, which seats only 24 (for a total of 908 passengers).

The first engineering mockups of the train were unveilled earlier this month.

Series L0 train
The Series L0 Train [Image Source:]

The train is planned to initially travel between the Shinagawa Station in central Tokyo to Nagoya, cities separated by roughly 218 miles on Japan's eastern coast.  Today the trip would take four hours by car or 90 minutes on the fastest rail-based bullet trains, but travelling at a blistering 311 mph, the next-generation maglev rail is expect to deliver passengers there in just 40 minutes.

JR Tokia plans to eventually extend the system to connect to Osaka by 2045.  Lead developer Yasukazu Endo comments, "Through the test runs, we will make final checks to ensure that commercial services are comfortable."

Long a leader in high-speed rail, Japan has recently seen fierce competition from its rival, China.  China currently owns the only other active commercial maglev system in the world, a line in Shanghai.  China is moving aggressively forward with its high speed rail expansion plans, despite the embarassing setback of having to scale back its line speeds from record paces due to allegations of contractor corruption leading to shoddy construction.

The U.S. is currently pondering a maglev system of its own, but such plans remain in their early infancy, with few large commercial backers.


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By GulWestfale on 11/29/2012 6:44:42 PM , Rating: 5
yet another reason to visit japan!

RE: niiiice!
By hubb1e on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: niiiice!
By ClownPuncher on 11/29/2012 7:49:52 PM , Rating: 4
Cars can't go as fast as airplanes either, but is sure is damn fun to have 500hp under the hood, isn't it? Being on land traveling that fast is a hugely different feeling than being up in the air.

RE: niiiice!
By DeepBlue1975 on 12/3/2012 5:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
Which is no feeling at all, unless you are flying on a jet fighter and doing nearly supersonic runs at barely more than sea level.

RE: niiiice!
By Stuka on 11/29/2012 7:53:16 PM , Rating: 4
310mph 10ft off the ground is a lot more impressive than 580mph at 30,000ft off the ground... when looking out the window.

RE: niiiice!
By Bad-Karma on 11/30/2012 1:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
Go low level at mach. After that just about anything less will feel sedate by comparison. If you want a bit more then ratchet it up then go high mach with nap-of-the-earth...if you can take it.

I got to do it quite a bit when active duty (EF-111/F4G/F16B,D/F15E/B-1). Shoot, even NoE at full throttle on a buff is a hell of a sensation. But you no longer have to be in the service, there are lots of places selling rides now, just pick your favorite airframe. I guarantee you that after that fast cars (or trains) just don't compare......

Of course a sled driver would read this and laugh at me.....

RE: niiiice!
By ClownPuncher on 11/30/2012 3:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure people are going to be commuting to work in a F15E.

RE: niiiice!
By Bad-Karma on 12/1/2012 8:35:36 PM , Rating: 2

I'm not sure people are going to be commuting to work in a F15E.

I used to....

But seriously, from someone who enjoys train, I've taken every opportunity to ride as many of the bullet trains as possible when I travel. While I experience the novelty of the ride, you'll notice that the regular riders could care less about the sensation. The high speed is simply commonplace to them.

Think about it, when was the last time you zipped down the interstate at 70MPH and thought the speed was remarkable. Yet at some point in your life 70Mph was exhilarating.

RE: niiiice!
By bigboxes on 11/30/2012 12:20:30 AM , Rating: 5
You mean after arriving a couple of hours early for the pre-screen and then the taxiing on runway. That fun?

RE: niiiice!
By Solandri on 11/30/2012 5:15:29 AM , Rating: 5
I'm gonna go out on a really small limb and predict that if high-speed trains become a big thing, they're going to end up with the same pre-screening security checks that air travel has.

Crashes start to become unsurvivable above about 70 mph. If you hit a solid object at those speeds, the deceleration forces are enough to rip apart the blood vessels and connective tissue inside your body. So a bomb on a regular train means a bunch of people get injured and a few killed. A bomb on a high-speed train means nearly everyone dies, just like a plane crash.

RE: niiiice!
By dgingerich on 11/30/12, Rating: -1
RE: niiiice!
By Orchunter on 11/30/2012 10:45:46 AM , Rating: 4
Who said terrorists are only interested in taking down buildings. Just because they did that one time does not mean that they are interested in doing that all the time. Take a look at what happened in India "2006 Mumbai train bombings" ( see wiki ). Terrorists just want to create as much chaos and destruction as possible. Lets not forget that.

RE: niiiice!
By ClownPuncher on 11/30/2012 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's also very uncommon. Cars are much more dangerous, statistically.

RE: niiiice!
By Devilboy1313 on 11/30/2012 10:29:12 PM , Rating: 3
Cars are not dangerous at all, idiots who somehow got a driver's license and drive cars are the dangerous ones.

RE: niiiice!
By MechanicalTechie on 11/29/2012 8:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
Japan is an awesome country.. specially for tech-heads.. they can turn an ordinary vending machine into a nose bleeders wet dream :)

RE: niiiice!
By Schadenfroh on 11/29/2012 10:45:11 PM , Rating: 3
Not to mention, deploy vending machines that sell used panties :-o

RE: niiiice!
By Connoisseur on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: niiiice!
By MechanicalTechie on 11/30/2012 12:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
When visiting another country you always have crap to contend with.. you just have to look past it.

RE: niiiice!
By Connoisseur on 11/30/2012 9:35:29 AM , Rating: 2
I'm more commenting on the previous poster who thinks there are panty vending machines on every block like a Pepsi dispenser. A lot of people have a very skewed view of Japan. Mostly from anime shows or internet videos of game shows.

RE: niiiice!
By Bad-Karma on 11/30/2012 12:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it is not to far from the truth. I was stationed there for two years. My wife and I decided to live away from the base among the local citizens. We managed to travel the country quite extensively.

It is not uncommon to wonder into an average neighborhood and see houses with one or more vending machines parked out near the street. Some homes had upward of 7+! To keep up sales, neighbors will have vastly different vended products along the street. Just about anything you could want can be had from those machines.

Last time I was passing through there I saw a machine vending miniature square watermelons. I even saw a fried chicken vending machine, must have missed the used panty one(s)......thankfully.

RE: niiiice!
By Zoomer on 12/1/2012 10:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
His point was that these machines don't sell used panties. They sell hot/cold drinks, soda, food, etc. Hardly anything to get riled up about.

RE: niiiice!
By Bad-Karma on 12/1/2012 8:27:45 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, bet they are there and are still not uncommon.....

RE: niiiice!
By dgingerich on 11/30/2012 11:25:11 AM , Rating: 2
you took all the magic away... :(

Just kidding. After all, they are just people, just like any other place. They have the same problems we all do. It sounds like Tokyo is about the same as New York, in the overall experience. Neat to know.

As much as I am fascinated by their old culture, I can't stand their food. So, I'm not going to be going there any time soon.

RE: niiiice!
By Jeffk464 on 11/30/2012 11:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
Really you don't like terriaki chicken or tempura? Never heard of anyone not liking those. I get the dislike of the raw fish thing though.

RE: niiiice!
By ClownPuncher on 11/30/2012 1:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
They have a few more types of food than sushi and tempura.

RE: niiiice!
By tng on 12/2/2012 3:52:36 PM , Rating: 2
Best terriaki chicken I had was off of a hibachi in a sidewalk in Nagoya. Looked completely unsanitary, but was fantastic.

Can't say I ever liked raw fish until I had it in Japan, where it again was fantastic.

RE: niiiice!
By Wurum on 11/30/2012 4:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
Admittedly, I don't know much about this, but I doubt they have the same race relation problems we have here in the US. Isn't Japan very anti immigration?

By BAFrayd on 11/30/2012 4:54:54 AM , Rating: 2
"Train will speed along at 311 mph, will carry 900+ passengers"

It will then derail, killing all said passengers and scores of innocent people along the path.

By zkln on 11/30/2012 8:47:33 AM , Rating: 3
No one is innocent.

By Jeffk464 on 11/30/2012 11:49:41 AM , Rating: 2
Japan is pretty careful who they let into the country. They had the one home grown attack, but I would say the risk of terrorist attacks is extremely low in Japan.

By Devilboy1313 on 11/30/2012 10:32:55 PM , Rating: 4
Well there was that one giant green guy back in 1954. I'm not sure if atomic breath and a tail can take out a maglev though.

By AssBall on 11/30/2012 11:57:13 AM , Rating: 3
If a train isn't actually on rails to begin with, can it really de-rail?

Decouple maybe a better word...

What a sad sad timeframe
By cypherl1 on 11/29/2012 10:49:21 PM , Rating: 2
It took 8 years to go from nothing to landing on the Moon. They plan on building a train, that China already has, over the course of 33 years. By 2045 Japan will have lost 25% of its population due to old age and below replacement rate fertility. Any engineer working on it now will be retired by completion. I love the maglev and all but lets get a realistic time frame. Or at least come up with inventive ways to make your country actually procreate at sustainable levels.

RE: What a sad sad timeframe
By JediJeb on 11/30/2012 3:34:29 PM , Rating: 4
It also only took 6 years to build the first Transcontinental Railroad in the US using pretty much only manual labor and blasting powder. Yet today it would take three times as long even using the heavy equipment available now.

RE: What a sad sad timeframe
By Iketh on 12/1/2012 3:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they are short on rare earth materials and this is the time frame needed to collect?

Let's let China and Japan eat the R&D costs...
By tayb on 11/29/2012 7:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
$100 million per kilometer? It sounds extremely promising for connecting large cities across the US but at prices anywhere near that point it's just ridiculous. Let's let China and Japan fund the research into making this more affordable and we can reap the benefits in the future.

By ShieTar on 11/30/2012 4:47:05 AM , Rating: 2
The main reason that it is 100M per km is not the technology itself, but the reason that they only made it 9 km long. If it was 5 km long, it probably would have cost 200M per km.

Also keep in mind that Japan, for the most part, is mountains. There are several regions in the US and China which consists of hundreds of miles of flat country, perfect for a cheap rail system.

By Flunk on 11/30/2012 9:21:12 AM , Rating: 2
JR Tokia
Do you mean JR Tokai?

Brown Doggle
By btc909 on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: Brown Doggle
By Ringold on 11/29/12, Rating: 0
RE: Brown Doggle
By inperfectdarkness on 11/29/2012 10:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
Japan's debt is 95% internal. It also has close to zero net debt after balancing its creditors and debtors. Japan is fine.

RE: Brown Doggle
By mellomonk on 11/30/2012 1:11:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Japan's debt situation may be well and good, but fine they are not. 20+ years of recession and an aging population just to start. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the giant rising Dragon to the west.

RE: Brown Doggle
By Ringold on 11/30/2012 4:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
I know its 95% internal. You missed the part where the aging population is over the demographic hump, retiring, and starting to drawn down their savings, eroding demand for that debt.

Wouldn't be a problem if they had a surplus, but they're bleeding cash almost as bad as we are. If interest rates jumped even to just 3 or 4%, Japan goes Greece/Spain.

Having your head in the sand on Japan is dangerous, just due to how large it is. Hard to give an exact date, but when bond markets move they do so extremely quickly. Without a change in policy, Japan is doomed.

And thats just on debt. Demographics are destiny. If they don't start having more babies, they're also doomed; no economist has yet dreamed up a scenario where a modern economy can sustain a huge number of elderly retirees on the backs of a small working age population.

Just because the streets of Japan look normal and the media isn't talking about it doesn't mean storm clouds aren't on the horizon.

RE: Brown Doggle
By Jeffk464 on 11/30/2012 6:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, thats the problem you need constant population growth. But that also leads to overpopulation problems. Japan has a pretty high population density as is. Really what we need is Logan's Run. :)

RE: Brown Doggle
By Ringold on 11/30/2012 10:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
Even a constant population level would be tolerable, but they're not even that; they're in outright population collapse. That's impossible to deal with, long-run.

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