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Monday, April 20, 2015

Japanese Mag-Lev Train Hits 589-KPH

Within the next 24 to 36 hours, this blog should break the 2-million hit mark.

It seems like the wrong time for me to be lazy, but truthfully, I'm a bit burned out from all the domestic crap life throws at one - plus I actually pulled something in my arm this past Sunday morning while gardening... though truthfully it doesn't stop me from writing, obviously.

It's just that... well.. I found this cool story from the Los Angeles Times written by Jonathan Kaiman and published on April 18, 2015. I saw it in the Toronto Star, however.

The story incorporates a few of my favorite things (one of, I repeat) - levitation... er, trains, actually. A magnetic levitation train, built in Japan, that set a new speed record.

Here's the article:

A Japanese company said its magnetic levitation train set a speed record this week, reaching 589 km/h on a test track.

The Central Japan Railway Co., often called JR Central, said the test run involved a seven-car magnetic-levitation train on a 42.8-km track in Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture. The company said it hopes to break the speed record again on Tuesday.

Magnetic-levitation, or maglev, train systems use magnets to lift and propel the train, promising a ride that’s smoother, quieter and nearly twice as fast as traditional high-speed rail.

JR Central set the previous maglev train speed record of 581 km/h on the same track in December 2003, according to the company.

Japanese officials plan to open a maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027, cutting the 90-minute travel time between the two cities on a traditional high-speed rail line by more than half.

Because maglev trains require straight, even and predictable terrain to run smoothly, most of the route will be through tunnels.

“It’s good news, obviously, that the technology keeps advancing, and that countries are focusing on this,” said Andy Kunz, president of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association. “We consider high-speed rail the future, no question — from energy use, to being able to move large numbers of people quickly, to climate solutions.”

Yet Kunz said maglev trains are expensive, power-intensive and potentially unsafe.

“The problem is, if you have one tiny little settling of the earth — which happens all the time because of plate tectonics — that can create little movements in the maglev system, which can send trains crashing into stuff,” he said. “It’s a very difficult system to make operational.

Germany discontinued a high-profile maglev program after a fatal collision on a test course killed 23 people in 2006.

“We support advances in rail and technology,” Kunz said. “But what we really support is technology that’s proven. We can talk about maglev and the Hyperloop, all these things that aren’t proven, then spend 20 years hoping they’ll get built.

“But meanwhile, we need good, fast rail today."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the U.S. for a week beginning April 26 and high-speed rail-related talks probably will be on his schedule.

JR Central is promoting maglev technology in the U.S. for a line between Washington and Baltimore, which could reduce travel time between the two cities to 15 minutes.

Early last year, Abe suggested to President Barack Obama that Japan would foot half of the $10 billion cost of the project.

Meanwhile, California’s $68-billion, high-speed rail project, which is to connect Los Angeles with San Francisco by 2029, broke ground in January.

Nice article... and congratulations to Japan on the new speed record... now we'll have to see how China or France or Germany responds...

What was VERY interesting to me, was the fact that a Japanese magnetic levitation train broke a record that was set back in 2003... like, what the heck took it so long to break the record by a mere eight kph?

Couldn't they get the other one that much faster?

Anyhow, while everyone bitches about the high cost of developing and building maglev trains and track, speaking as someone who lives now in Toronto - start now.

In Toronto, whomever has been an urban planner in this city... or the politicians who over see it... they have let down this city. The urban gridlock is staggering. I live 30 kilometers from work, and it takes me anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes to travel that distance leaving at times that are just ahead of the actual busiest traffic times. Public transit? What a joke. I'd have to take a bus, train, change trains, and then a bus again and maybe get there in 90 minutes.

Just 15 years ago, I could do the trip in 30 minutes. And yeah, I am aware that accidents can snarl up any drive, it's just that Toronto has too many cars on the road, and too many people who don't drive as well as they should.

What's even more disheartening, is that even if the city wasn't sprucing itself up for the upcoming PanAm athletic games, it would still be construction season.

While Toronto doesn't NEED a maglev train... Canada doesn't either... Japan does, as it has a lot of people who travel between Nagoya or Osaka and Tokyo on a regular basis. If it is also a technology that saves on fuel - then voila, best solution ever.

Rant over. Enjoy the day.

Andrew Joseph

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