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Maglev train clocks 603 kph, setting new world record

AFP-JIJI

Japan’s state-of-the-art maglev train set a world speed record Tuesday during a test run near Mount Fuji, clocking more than 600 kph.

The seven-car maglev — short for magnetic levitation — train, hit a top speed of 603 kph, and managed nearly 11 seconds over 600 kph Central Japan Railway (JR Tokai) said.

The new record came less than a week after the train clocked 590 kph, by breaking its own 2003 record of 581 kph.

The maglev hovers 10 cm above the tracks and is propelled by electrically charged magnets.

JR Tokai wants to have a train in service in 2027 plying the route between Tokyo and Nagoya, a distance of 286 km.

The service, which will run at a top speed of 500 kph, is expected to connect the two cities in only 40 minutes, less than half the time it takes by shinkansen.

By 2045 maglev trains are expected to link Tokyo and Osaka in just 67 minutes, slashing the journey time in half.

However, construction costs for the dedicated lines are astronomical — estimated at nearly ¥11.9 trillion just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80 percent of the route expected to go through costly tunnels.

Japan is looking to sell its shinkansen and maglev systems overseas with help from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been acting as traveling salesman in his bid to revive the economy partly through infrastructure exports.

Abe is due in the United States this weekend, where he will be touting the technology for a high speed rail link between New York and Washington.