JR Central Japan MLX01

Japan is one of the only two countries that has been consistently developing and testing trains using magnetic levitation technology.  I do not understand the principles of physics behind maglev any better than you do (however, if you are interested in reading about it, you may start from here), but one of the Japanese Maglev trains is still very well worth talking about, as the MLX01-901, introduced in 2002, has set the world speed record for trains in 2003 with a stunning speed of 581 km/h (361 mph).  The MLX01 is developed by Central Japan Railway Company and the Railway Technical Research Institute and first introduced in 1996.  Japan has been developing Maglev trains since 1969.

JR MLX01-1 001.jpg
"JR MLX01-1 001" by Daylight9899 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Unlike the German Maglev system which uses conventional electromagnets, the Japanese system uses super-cooled, superconductors to propel its trains.  As a result of the Electrodynamic Suspension technology which does not provide enough magnetic-flux to support the weight of the train, the Japanese Maglev trains are fitted with wheels and they retract once the train reaches 150 km/h (93 mph).  Below is a video filmed at one of the free test-rides JR offers regularly where the Maglev travels up to 500 km/h (311 mph).  The test line is located in Yamanashi Prefecture.  You will be able to see the superior acceleration Maglev trains can achieve.

Japan is currently aiming to begin its first commercial Maglev service between Tōkyō and Nagoya in 2025.


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