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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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Brown Doggle
By btc909 on 11/29/2012 7:12:10 PM , Rating: -1
Oooo Kalifornia is getting one of these right? I'm itching to ride a high speed train to Chowchilla and Bakersfield!

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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