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Only a handful of nations are currently testing Maglev rail technology

Japan plans on having its first magnetic levitation (Maglev) rail system in service by 2025.  The trains have a top commercial speed of 310 m.p.h., and use electric-powered magnets to float above tracks.  More specifically, floating above the tracks helps greatly reduce the amount of friction between the train and track, helping make the trains go faster.

The Maglevs will replace Japan's Shinkansen "bullet" trains, which have reached their technological and transportation capacity limits.  The first Japanese Maglev line will travel between Tokyo and Nagoya.

Central Japan Railway (JR Tokai) plans on operating the first Japanese Maglev service, according to Masayuki Matsumoto, JR Tokai President.  The company has been testing Maglev cars on a track in Yamanashi for more than 10 years.

Even though a French train holds the world speed record on rails -- 357.2 m.p.h. -- the Maglev holds the current overall record -- a maximum speed of 361 m.p.h.

The only fully operational Maglev line is operating on almost 20 miles of rails in Shanghai.  Japan and Germany are currently the nations that have taken great strides to improve Maglev technology.  Unfortunately, a German test Maglev train crashed last September, killing 23 people.

As someone who has ridden the Japanese Shinkansen trains before, I am sad to see the famed bullet train forced into retirement -- but am extremely excited to some day ride the first generation of Maglev trains.

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RE: Rails?
By Triring on 4/27/2007 6:55:20 AM , Rating: 2
I am not familiar with the German system but I think they still will have rails as a fall back system in case the power goes out.
I don't think they are levitated during stops at stations either since it will be a waste of energy.

By the way although the Sanghai system is the first commercial system the length is about the same as the Japanese experimental tracks that have been in service for more than 10 years.

RE: Rails?
By Yeah Yeah on 4/27/2007 10:41:32 AM , Rating: 2
it does use rails to keep the train "on track" if you will. it uses one middle rail (like a monorail) but the electromagnetism keeps the train "afloat" if you will. It hovers above it!

RE: Rails?
By Yeah Yeah on 4/27/2007 10:50:45 AM , Rating: 2
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