World’s fastest bullet train is being tested in Japan

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 14 May 2019

Japan has begun testing its fastest bullet train yet. The train, which is able to reach speeds of up to 400 kph, is known as the ALFA-X, a version of the Shinkansen train, and features 10 cars and an elongated nose.

The super carrier is expected to be operational in 2030 and the plan is to run it at speeds of 360 kph, which is 10 kph faster than China’s Fuxing Hao train that links Beijing and Shanghai.

JR East unveils its new test bullet train “ALFA-X” in Rifu, Miyagi prefecture on 9 May. Image credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Tests will be run after midnight on the line between the cities of Sendai and Aomori, which are about 280 km apart, when the line is quiet and will happen twice a week for the next three years.

The 22-metre sleek nose of the Alfa-X’s (which stands for ‘Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation’) first car is designed to combat the extreme wind resistance when entering tunnels. In addition to conventional brakes, the train will also feature air brakes on the roof and use magnetic plates near the rails to reduce speed.

Japan has also been testing another new high-speed Shinkansen N700S train, which will enter operation in 2020 to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, but its maximum speed is 300 kph, the same as other N700 series trains.

According to CNN, ‘No matter what speeds the train achieves during its test runs, it won’t match the record-breaking pace of Japan Railway’s magnetic levitation, or maglev, train which hit 603 kph on an experimental track in 2015.’

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