A world where it’s possible to travel long distances, very rapidly, while completely avoiding all of the pitfalls that accompany air travel — both with regard to comfort and with regard to carbon emissions — seems to be getting closer and closer. Well, in some parts of the world anyways… While the US continues to drag its feet on that matter, yet another milestone has been passed in another part of the world — a new world record has been set by a Japanese Maglev train traveling at an incredible 310 miles per hour.
The world train speed record was set during a recent 27-mile test run of the “L Zero” magnetically levitated train — a test run that apparently went flawlessly according to those involved. According to the journalists that were invited onboard, even while traveling at top speed, “they could barely feel a thing.”
Phys.org provides more info:
The train does have wheels — it rides on them when the train is at low speed — then rises up above the track when it reaches approximately 93 mph. On the test run, the train reached its peak speed just three miles into the trip, which would suggest riders would feel pushed back into their seats, but those on board reported no such sensation. …
Maglev trains are able to travel very fast all while using less energy than conventional trains because they allow the train to ride on a cushion of air — friction from the wheels on the track is eliminated. Most in the field expect they will require less maintenance costs as well.
But what’s still not clear is if the lower operating costs will make up for the dramatically greater installation cost. The line between Tokyo and Osaka is expected to cost approximately $90 billion and it won’t be completed until 2045 (an initial line is expected to begin operating between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 reducing travel time from 95 to 40 minutes).
While 2027 is still quite a long ways off, at the very least, steps are being taken in that country to improve the infrastructure — while in the US, any improvements in recent years, such as a federal high-speed rail plan, have been fought tooth and nail by an extreme wing of a certain political party.