Japan gives go ahead for 500 kph maglev line

Japan gave the go ahead Friday for a magnetic levitation line that will shuttle passengers between Tokyo and Osaka in just over an hour using the world's fastest trains.

Railway operator JR Tokai plans to lay the maglev line from Tokyo through the central city of Nagoya to Osaka, in western Japan, with trains travelling at a dizzying 500 kilometres per hour (300 miles per hour).

Spokesman Kazutaka Izumi said the company hoped to begin an environmental assessment in December with a view to starting construction in 2014.

The world's only other high-speed maglev in operation, launched in Shanghai in 2002, travels at 430 kph from Pudong airport into the city, according to the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co.'s website.

Japan's version, which hovers 10 centimetres (four inches) above the tracks, reached a world record speed of 581 kph at the company's Yamanashi Maglev Test Line near Mount Fuji in 2003.

Japan's fastest operating trains are the Sanyo Shinkansen, or bullet train, run by JR West in western Japan and the Hayabusa Tohoku Shinkansen that links Tokyo and northern Aomori, which both travel at 300 kph.

JR Tokai said it is hoping to complete the first leg of the maglev service - billed as faster, smoother and quieter than conventional trains - between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027.

The service all the way through to Osaka is hoped to be completed by 2045 and the entire journey will take just 67 minutes, compared with the bullet train's current 145 minutes.

oh/ft/jah

 

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