Japan Prepares to Go Beyond High Speed With Maglev Trains

Japan has long been at the forefront of high speed rail development since they laid down the first tracks for the Shinkansen system back in the 1960s. Since then, the bullet trains in Japan have grown into the busiest high speed rail line in the world and serve as the example for what high speed rail can become in other countries. Now, with the bullet train technology getting up there in age, Japan is preparing to put plans into motion to adopt a magnetic levitation system within the next twenty years.

According to an announcement by the Central Japan Railway Company, there are currently plans in place to improve upon an existing 178 miles of track in order to allow the implementation of magnetic levitation trains. The tracks in question are already a part of the company’s popular Tokyo to Osaka line that has been ferrying passengers between the two cities on bullet trains for years. The new trains, which are capable of a top speed of 310 miles per hour, are expected to take only forty minutes to pass between the two cities, which is down from the previous ninety-five minutes with the bullet trains, creating a more desirable on-ground transportation service. The trains would be, like the current bullet trains, designed to operate solely off electric systems.

Though the plans may be nearing the point where they can be put into effect only now, Japan has been experimenting with maglev train technology since the late 1990s. The technology has been developed not only with the improvement of Japan’s rail system in mind but also with an eye on selling the technology overseas. Last year, the Central Japan Railway Company began to work closely with the United States transportation secretary and other officials to determine if Obama’s plans to support high speed rail development would provide a market for the Japanese company. With China quickly developing high speed rail technology themselves, Japan believes it is critical to stay ahead of the game and secure customers for their own maglev technology.

The current plan for the implementation of the maglev trains in Japan is to have them ready for operation by 2027. The project, which is expected to cost an estimated $64 billion, could be only the beginning of another plan to further expand the Japanese high speed rail lines to accommodate more trains and lines by 2047. With both Japan and China furiously working towards developing maglev technology, it should be interesting to see whether Japan, the veterans in the high speed rail game, will come out on top.

Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

Have any Question or Comment?

5 comments on “Japan Prepares to Go Beyond High Speed With Maglev Trains

Wow… some important info missing here. Maglev technology was invented and developed here on Long Island in the 1960s by Drs. Danby and Powell. They sold technology to the Japanese who have been using it successfully for 30 years! During those years Gordon Danby and James Powell have developed the 2nd generation maglev system, again, here on Long Island, in America! It’s American technology! Senator Patrick Moynahan nearly got the system into production in the late 80s but big oil, big auto and the airline lobbies killed it at the last minute.

It is infuriating to hear Secretary Clinton come home with an offer from the Japanese to help us build a maglev system! The 2nd Generation system is far superior to anything they could possibly offer. It levitates higher and snow and ice have zero effect on it. It can travel on inexpensively modified existing rail allowing existing infrastructure to be utilized. Maglev and Amtrack can use the same tracks! It can not derail. It has NO MOVING Parts (save for the doors). It generates electricity upon deceleration and sends it back into the grid. It can carry fully loaded, drive on tractor trailers reducing time to market at substantial savings in cost, fuel, carbon emissions, highway traffic and highway fatalities. Japan says their system will cost $65 BILLION?? Are you kidding? It will be functional by 2027? Our system will cost a tiny fraction of that number and could be operational as early as 2015. BUT (of course there’s always a BUT) NOBODY IN OUR GOVERNMENT WILL LISTEN! This is not science fiction! We can get from NY to Miami in under 4 hours in extreme safety, extreme comfort at a fraction of the cost of flying or driving. And THAT’s why it will never happen. Greedy, lobbyists, greedy CEOs, running greedy corporations.

Thank you Mark for the extra info.

ernest fazio

Hey Rogan – You’re right about everything you said. You failed mention, however, that the 2nd generation Maglev is much less costly than the Japanese version


what about the German technology, mainly from Siemens? Germany has had a test stretch of maglev for a long time now, and it was even chosen to be built in china, which shows it is probably something worthwhile. Why didn’t you mention that at all?

How far is this 2nd generation maglev technology? Has any significant test stretch of it ever been built and operated, like e.g. the german one?


The German system is also based on Drs Danby and Powell’s invention.

Has a significant test track been built and tested… unfortunately, no.

I do have renewed faith that it will however, as there seems to be a growing sentiment (or should I say a renewed sentiment?) that “Made In America” really means something and when it comes to innovative, breakthrough technology, America needs to turn to American companies for the answer. Is it “protectionism”? Yes, I’d have a hard time arguing otherwise. But when it comes down to survival and laying the groundwork for the future of our country, we have to do what is best for us. Because in the long run, it will prove best for the world.

So the Germans can develop and build their system. The Chinese and Japanese are free to do the same. Considering it’s all based on the work of 2 Americans, I think America should do whatever it takes to build our own, and may the best system win!

Comments are closed for this post !!
Skip to toolbar