Japanese Train Sets Speed Records
Dec. 12, 1997
TOKYO (AP) _ A Japanese train set world speed records today, clocking 329 mph in both manned and unmanned runs, the train's developer said.
The three-car train _ a superconducting magnetically levitated linear motor vehicle, or MLX01 _ set the records on test runs in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo.
Unlike conventional trains, the trains have magnets that lift them slightly off the track, eliminating the friction that normally occurs when wheels hit track.
Today's test runs were carried out on a special track near the city of Kofu, about 70 miles west of Tokyo, and involved a prototype that cost $43.3 million to develop.
The developers' goal is to have the train operate commercially at speeds in excess of 300 mph. ``Today, we confirmed that could be done,'' said Nobuyuki Kokubun, a spokesman for the Railway Technical Research Institute.
It is not expected to be ready for commercial passenger use until sometime next century.
Today's unmanned run broke the previous record of 321 mph set in southern Japan in 1979 by a precursor, the ML-500. The manned test surpassed the record of 312 mph, which the same train set on the Yamanashi track last month.
Japan is home to some of the world's fastest passenger trains. The shinkansen ``bullet trains'' carry customers up to 186 mph and have reached maximum speeds in test runs of 275 mph.
The same technology is also being developed in Germany.