Japan Is Developing The Future of Transportation
Years of research and development into high speed rail are finally coming to fruition in Japan. The new technology is known as the superconducting magnetic train, or Maglev, derived from the term magnetic levitation.
Japanese researchers have successfully increased the speed of train transportation by simply removing friction. The Maglev floats above the rails, eliminating the friction caused by the contact between the train wheels and the track. This is accomplished through an electrodynamic suspension system based on the principle of magnetic repulsion. Both the rail and the train contain strong electromagnets.
The train begins on wheels, slowly increasing its speed until it reaches 93 miles per hour. At this point, the magnetic repulsive force between the two electromagnets lifts the train off of the track. Since the Maglev no longer has contact with the rails, friction is eliminated. By using magnets to create both lift and propulsion, the Maglev train is able to obtain speeds as fast as 375 miles per hour without the constraints of friction.
Japan hopes to rapidly integrate the Maglev technology into daily life. Plans are already in place to open the Chuo Shinkansen line in 2027 using superconductive magnetic trains. Expected travel time from Tokyo to Nagoya will be 42 minutes, with 80 percent of the track located underground. This represents a 50 percent decrease in travel time compared to high speed bullet trains currently in use and speeds of over 600 miles per hour. The cruising speeds of an Airbus A320 or a Boeing 737 or 757 are only about 530 miles per hour.
When completed, the train will have 16 carriages with a capacity of 1000 passengers. If initial trials are successful, Japan hopes to further develop the line. By the year 2045, one will be able to travel the 108 miles from Nagoya to Osaka in 67 minutes. In total, Japan has invested 55 billion dollars into the production of the Chuo Shinkansen line.
Japan’s innovations in transportation have had worldwide influence. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed selling the technology to the United States to build a Maglev line between New York and Washington. In addition, Maglev’s success may lead to the development of additional competition. Plans have been proposed for a Hyperloop train line using alternative frictionless technology, with the intent of reaching speeds as fast as 700 miles per hour. The innovations and advancements in transportation promised by this Maglev technology are only the beginning.
Written by Zachary Ostrow & Edited by Alexander Fleiss