Japan kicks off world's fastest high-speed rail project
Friday 05 November 2010
If China's shiny new high-speed rail systems seem dizzying at 350 km/h, wait until you've seen what Japan is planning.
Last week, Central Japan Railway confirmed that it would begin building prototypes for a new type of train with a speed of 500 km/h - approaching the cruising speed of some aircraft.
The company will build 14 of the maglev (magnetic levitation) trains so that it can begin testing by the end of 2013, although commercial operations aren't scheduled to begin until 2027.
If everything goes to plan, the trainsets will run on the Chuo Shinkansen line, which will link the major conurbations of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, with the full route eventually expected to be open in 2045.
When it is, it'll take around 70 minutes to travel between the two major cities, less than the time it takes to fly.
The opening of such a route will signal a return to the forefront of high speed rail for Japan, which pioneered the concept but has since been overtaken commercially by European-built systems used in China, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
China's rapidly-growing high-speed rail system, which boasts top speeds of 350 km/h, is predominantly based on trains from German engineering giant Siemens.
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