Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) resumed trials today of the maglev or magnetically levitated train, which will become the world’s fastest train when it begins operations by 2027. The test was conducted on an extended YamanashiMaglev Test Line which covered a distance of 42.8 kilometers and can run as fast as 500 kph, using the Lo train car prototype.
JR Tokai will begin working on the $52 billion maglev line by April of 2014. This will make travelling from Tokyo to Nagoya in just 40 minutes, from the current 95 minutes, spanning 286 kilometers. It will be a big challenge for the railway company, as they would have to tunnel under the huge skyscrapers of Tokyo and even the Japanese Alps, so it is not expected that this project will be finished on time. Adding to this is the fact that Japan’s population is expected to shrink in the next few years, so it will lessen travel demand as well. Projections by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research show that by 2027, Japan’s population may drop to 117 million, compared to the 127 million current population.
The company will also be assessing the environmental impact the trains will have on the ground and look at ways to reduce the maintenance costs. Nine more train cars will be constructed by 2015 so the test runs by then will involve 12 train cars with a total length of 299 meters. Among those who participated in the test run were Yoshiyuki Kasai, JR Tokai chairman, Akihiro Ota, the transport minister, and Yamanashi Governor Shomei Yokouchi. Kasai believes that eventually, they will be exporting this train technology to the United States so it will become the “international standrard”.