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  (Source: Aktuality.sk)
Test track needed to be more than doubled in size to accommodate full speed runs

Japan Railway Comp. (JR Tokai) (TYO:9022) (aka. "The Central Japan Railway Comp.)  is responsible for ferrying close to 400,000 passengers a day between some of the largest cities in central Japan.  While its fastest bullet trains can cut the transit time from Tokyo to Osaka from about 6 hours by car to about 2 hours and 20 minutes by bullet train, JR Tokai is dreaming of a next generation maglev system that could go even faster, completing the 500+ kilometer (310+ mile) journey in under an hour.

I. Meet the Chuo Shinkansen Maglev, a $90B USD Project

To do that it's been creating a superconducting magnetically levitated (SCMaglev) train design (a type of electrodynamic suspension Maglev), which travels along a U-shaped track at speeds of up 505 km/hr (311 mph).

To achieve that goal much work had to be done.  While the fundamental idea behind a magnetically levitated vehicle was first devised and patented in the U.S. in 1905.  Magnetic levitation is appealing in some ways -- with no moving parts, it has low maintenance costs, and some kinds of Maglev designs (such as JR Tokai's) self-stabilizing reducing the chance of the kind of crashes that plague high-speed rail-based trains.

Chuo Shinkansen route
Chuo Shinkansen route
Views of the proposed Chuo Shinkansen test route. [Image Source: TRIC/TAS]

But the cost of building a track is high -- very high.  JR Tokai estimates that it will costs ¥5T ($50.9B USD) to build the line from Tokyo to Nagoya alone, and as much as ¥9T ($91.7B USD) to complete a full line from Osaka to Tokyo, linking Japan's four largest cities (Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, and Tokyo).

II. Four Decades of Development is Finally Paying Off

By the 1970s -- when JR Tokai first began to toy with Maglev designs -- one crucial variable had fallen into place: cheap, reliable electricity.  But it need to perfect the physics of its travel mechanism to reach speeds high enough to make it worth building the expensive track, particularly when bullet trains were already on the table.
JR Maglev
The JR Maglev design gets its power from the wound wire in the track.  Superconducting magnets in the train induce magnetic fields in the wound wires, propelling the train at speeds of up to 311 mph.

By 1979 it had completed an unmanned test platform, capable of reach speeds of 517 km/hr (321 mph).  But it took a decade to develop sufficient safety controls and aerodynamics to start construction on a test track.  Construction of the The Yamanashi Maglev Test Line began in 1990 in the town of Aichi, near the city of Nagoya.  The track using wound coils along the track which are powered by local substations.  The train is equipped with superconducting magnets, which induced a magnetic field in the powered coils.  

Maglev development
The Chuo Shinkansen project has been in the works for decades.

This magnetic field drives the trains along the track at high speeds.  Since this is an SVMaglev style line, trains must first reach a certain speed using retractable wheels before the magnetic forces become powerful enough to drive the train once the train reaches around 30 km/h (19 mph).  The retractable wheel launching and landing process thus bear some similarities to an airplane takeoff/landing.

Between 1990 and 2008 the 18.4 km (11.4 mi) track saw test runs by MLU002N and MLX01 test engines.  To test the designs JR Tokai gave away free rides on the track.  An estimated 200,000 passengers were carried on these free rides.

III. Longer Test Track Allows Tests With More Cars

In June of this year the extension of the test track was completed.  The track is now more than twice as long as before, reaching a length of 42.8 km (26.6 mi) and also incorporates new features that are commonly necessary in Japan's mountainous landscape, such as tunnels.  The test track is at last ready for expanded testing of the Series L0 prototype, a front car co-designed by JR Tokai and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (TYO:7011).  

Completed in 2008 the Series L0 prototype features a 28 m (92 ft) front car capable of hauling multiple 25 m (82 ft) passenger cars, dubbed "L0 cars".  Each L0 car carries up to 68 passengers, with a stubby rear car carrying only 24 passengers.

Series L0 train
The Series L0 Front Car [Image Source: JR Tokai]
 
Tests on the 42.8 km track began on Thursday in Japan, with five L0 cars coupled to the front engine, for an entire train legnth of 153 m (502 ft).  The train succesfully reached a top speed of 505 kilometers per hour (311 miles per hour).

Japan's transportation minister Akihiro Ota was among the passengers to test the new track.  He remarks:

I experienced the ride at 505 kph.  My body felt the sense of speed, but it was not at all uncomfortable and conversation was possible as usual. There was not much vibrating.

This [success] provides pride and hope as a technology power, and it will also be important in dealing with natural disasters. We want to provide support for the realization of this technology.

The next step will be to complete an environmental impact study to ensure there's no glaring issues with the track, which is expected to pass through both densely populated regions and the Japanese alps.  If that goes well the test track will be further extended and 9 new L0 cars will be built, allowing for test runs with up to 12 total L0 cars (for a total train length of 228 m (748 ft)).

L0 in action
The L0 with a three car test on Thursday [Image Source: Jun Kaneko]

The finished design will feature 14 L0 cars, plus the front car and rear car, a design capable of hauling 908 passengers.

IV. JR Tokai Wants to Bring Maglev to the U.S.

JR Tokai is hoping to have the entire multi-billion dollar Osaka-Tokyo line complete about a decade later, in 2027.  The full line will be dubbed "Chuo Shinkansen".  While the Japanese government funded much of the early research and development in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, JR Tokai is fulling paying for the commercial line deployment itself.

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. U.S. maglev supporters should be cheering the Yamanashi line, as one of the most hopeful efforts in the U.S. -- The Northeast Maglev (TNEM) -- is backed by JR Tokai.  The TNEM is planned to connect Washington D.C. and New York City with a high speed maglev, passing through Baltimore, and Philadelphia along the way.

TNEM
JR Tokai is helping with TNEM, a proposed U.S. line connecting New York and Washington, D.C.

JR Tokai chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai promises, "We want to export technology completed in Japan to the United States so that it becomes the international standard."

Source: AJW



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RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/2/2013 3:46:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize Amtrak essentially rides on 200 year old rails? The top speed of those track segments is 90mph with average cruising speed around 70mph.


Which begs the question, if we all wanted to ride trains, how did the rails get in that state to begin with?

American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.

Why can't some people just accept that in America, the automobile is the gold standard for personal transportation? We would rather drive than have to take a goddamn train that's all cramped with strangers. Being on a plane is bad enough, but at least that's fast.

quote:
The lack of ridiculous security, baggage check, dealing with airport BS and getting to the airport in the first place makes alternative travel a more practical option


Yeah right. The first time someone blows up a train, say hello to the TSA. The "T" stands for trains, right? :)


RE: Good of the people
By ritualm on 9/2/2013 8:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.

Why can't some people just accept that in America, the automobile is the gold standard for personal transportation? We would rather drive than have to take a goddamn train that's all cramped with strangers. Being on a plane is bad enough, but at least that's fast.

Which begs the question: if USA is indeed a nation of automobiles, WHY is the maximum highway speed limited to 55mph in most places? Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Railroads are great for doing two things:
1) move lots of goods from point A to point B over large distances; freight by water is awful slow, while air freight is very expensive and is better suited for time-sensitive goods like mail and live animals
2) move lots of people from point A to point B quickly over short distances i.e. densely populated areas

Railroad stations are often built near dense residential and business areas of large cities, not out in the sticks like airports.

Cars are absolutely great for moving small amounts of goods/people from point A to point B. That's it.

If USA has a more integrated and extensive mass transportation infrastructure, there is less of a need to use cars other than out-of-town excursions and the like. Local smog conditions improve considerably. Less worries of gridlock during rush hour. And it's so much cheaper to begin with.

My car insurance costs $3000 a year. If I can go out and buy groceries without driving, you god damned bet I would, but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.

And, thanks to the likes of such people as you who need a metric ton of "personal space" to stay comfortable, even half-baked solutions as simple as surface-level streetcar transit is being seen as a bad idea.

Want to see how bad a gridlocked highway is? Come to Toronto, Canada. We have a 16-lane highway that cuts across the city. It's also part of the single busiest stretch of highway in all of North America. The best part? gridlock on all 16 lanes.

Oh and by the way, go live in Hong Kong for a month. The "car as gold standard" you speak of does not exist.


RE: Good of the people
By M'n'M on 9/2/2013 9:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Which begs the question: if USA is indeed a nation of automobiles, WHY is the maximum highway speed limited to 55mph in most places? Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Actually the majority of states have 70 or 75 MPH max speed limits. Mostly it's the NE states that retain the old 55/65 compromise from the Clinton years. The same states that exhibit high levels of Nannyism.

Also I would say that high speed rail competes more with the airplane that the car. Commuter rail competes with the car.


RE: Good of the people
By Reclaimer77 on 9/3/2013 12:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Germany has that speed limit much higher.

Maybe not for long...
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/09/01/1624235/eu...

The rest of your post is so poor and full of straw men, there's really nothing else to respond to. You're not even American, but you're blaming Toronto's traffic on "people like me" mindset? Why don't you build your own rail solutions then. I'm sure as hell not stopping you!

Toronto's problem is you've increased your population growth by nearly 50% in a few short years. This is unheard of in America. People are moving OUT of the big cities because the suburbs are where you want to be. Traditionally most Americans don't live in major cities, we're way way spread out.

But in Canada apparently the opposite is happening. The suburbs and smaller communities are dying, and everyone is cramming themselves into small densely populated major cities. You people have more than ample land mass, but apparently totally SUCK at utilizing it.

quote:
but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.


You say that like it's a bad thing.


RE: Good of the people
By Wulf145 on 9/3/2013 2:32:08 AM , Rating: 2
German Speed Limits:
The EU try this every couple of years - it never goes anywhere.

Greeting from Bavaria


RE: Good of the people
By ritualm on 9/3/2013 11:26:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The rest of your post is so poor and full of straw men

Yours read like that a majority of the time. Jealous much?
quote:
You're not even American

And with that, you have immediately invalidated all arguments of your own.

Then again, I'm unsurprised that Americans have such strong opinions against outsiders who can say their system sucks.
quote:
but you're blaming Toronto's traffic on "people like me" mindset?

Because, sh!tforbrains, Canada is more or less identical to USA. If you think the situation with US wireless carriers is bad, look at us in the north. Robellus (a.k.a. Rogers, Bell, Telus, the big three wireless carriers here) don't want Verizon to enter the Canadian market because it would create much-needed competition!
quote:
You people have more than ample land mass, but apparently totally SUCK at utilizing it.

So you advocate paving every square mile of Canuckistan with asphalt and concrete. You're an idiot.
quote:
You say that like it's a bad thing.

It is a bad thing. You just haven't had any experience of having to make do without one yet.

Get into a car accident that results in one of your arms losing mobility and flexibility, which directly impacts your ability to drive, let alone carry significant weight i.e. bags of groceries.

"It will never happen to me! Maybe for you!"
- Reclaimer77

Very poor choice of words.


RE: Good of the people
By Nfarce on 9/3/2013 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If USA has a more integrated and extensive mass transportation infrastructure, there is less of a need to use cars other than out-of-town excursions and the like. Local smog conditions improve considerably. Less worries of gridlock during rush hour. And it's so much cheaper to begin with.


Well I hate to break the news to you, but we Americans LOVE our cars. They are not only a NEED but they are a STATUS symbol for many of us and a personal expression of who we are. They are a PART of American culture. It's been that way since the post-WWII boom. Same with suburbs as RC77 stated. Most of us don't want to live in the crime-infested, drug-infested, and corruption-infested metro cities around the nation. Instead, we prefer the quiet suburbs to live our lives and raise our children.

quote:
If I can go out and buy groceries without driving, you $#@! bet I would, but thanks to the prevailing car culture here in North America, not having a car is no different than being physically handicapped.


In the US you can live in any major city without a car. Many do, and they just rent cars when they need them. But again, most of the American population is outside of the major metro cities. I live outside of Atlanta, and my friends are sprawled all over the city. The closest one is 20 miles away or a 30 minute drive. The closest grocery store is 10 miles, and the closest major retail shopping area is 15 miles away. There is no way the pipe dream of public transportation could even REMOTELY put a dent in the needs of suburbia.

And yes, I like my "personal space" so fascists like you who want to tell the rest of us how to live through government mandates because you believe it affects YOUR lifestyle can go pound the sh|t out of sand!


RE: Good of the people
By ShieTar on 9/3/2013 10:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
American cities are FAR more sprawled than in Asia or Europe. We also have a large network of milti-lane highways, not crappy one lane cobblestone roads like Europe.


Meh, its 8500 miles from Lisbon to Vladivostock. Never heard of the Trans-Siberian railway line?

I'm going to assume that the comment about one lane cobblestone roads is supposed to be a joke? Germany alone, with just a quarter of the US population, spends more than half as much on roads as the US. You are not only allowed to drive 150mph on our Autobahn, you can also technically do it without any worries about the road quality. And one lane is rare on a county-road connecting the city-center with the industrial park, or the next sports arena. You'll never see it on an interstate road.


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