The first commercial model of the next-generation magnetic levitation (maglev) train has been unveiled by Japanese rail company JR Tokai.
The ultra-fast so-called ‘bullet train’, which was rolled out on a track in Yamanashi Prefecture, is set to transport passengers at speeds of up to 500km/h. An earlier prototype of the train set the world speed record of 581km/h back in 2003.
It marks the introduction of innovative superconducting electromagnets, which eliminate electrical resistance and create a stronger magnetic field. As a result, the train levitates higher than the currently operating maglev system utilising conventional electromagnets.
The train, which is expected to start commercial operation in 2027, will be able to cover the route from Tokyo to Nagoya in 40 minutes. By 2045, maglev should be able to run the rest of the existing bullet train’s route to western Japan’s Osaka, carrying passengers from the country’s second largest city to the capital Tokyo in a little over one hour instead of the current 2 hours and 25 minutes.
JR Tokai is planning to extend the track by 43km, in order to allow proper testing before the new maglev’s service begins in 2027.