When the high – speed train Shinkansen, with several records under his belt, opened in 1964, did it at the right time. That year, Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games and Japan hogging the spotlight for the début of the first commercial bullet train service in the world.
In 2020, the Japanese capital will host the Games and if you have the feeling of déjà vu is because the Asian nation is again crushing the railway records.
The new Japanese train, the maglev (magnetic levitation train), became the fastest train in the world to travel to 374 mph (603 kph) in a test near Mount Fuji last year, breaking his own world record of 366 miles per hour (590 mph), achieved a week earlier.
Maglev trains, which already operate at lower speeds in Shanghai and Changsha, in China as well as in Inch-eon, South Korea use magnetic repulsion both to levitate the train, reducing friction to propel it to the front.
This is perhaps the boldest innovation railway Japan so far.
Great distance in less time
Chuo Shinkansen maglev line will travel from Tokyo to the southern city of Nagoya in 40 minutes practically faster than by plane, considering the time needed to reach the airport. There are plans to later extend it to Osaka.
The train will have the capacity to carry a thousand passengers on the route of 159 miles (256 kilometers).
Tomoaki Seki, an administrator Railway Company Japan Center, which is developing the maglev line, said the company has tested this technology since 1997.
For when it opens in 2027, the service will bring 30 years of refinement.
But why it takes so long to develop?
During a test drive in 1997, he had already reached a speed of 342 miles per hour (550 kilometers per hour), but the company says it needed more testing for this technology meets the required safety standards and to be a profitable service.
“We are refining our technology and checking ways to reduce operating costs, maintenance and construction,” Seki said.
“Some people wanted to have the maglev in operation as soon as possible, but construction takes time.”
The launch bullet train for the Olympics of 1964 was observed by everyone.
France quickly followed in the footsteps of Japan with the launch of Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) in the 70s, which marked speed records in 2007. The Intercity-Express, which began operating in Germany in 1985, continues to operate between major cities;theirs are among the high-speed trains fastest in the world.
Therefore, for Japan, the need to revive his reputation as a pioneer in the trains is crucial.
In addition, the implementation of the maglev could also have economic consequences. Japan hopes to sell the technology to the United States, according to Seki.
“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a big fan of this project. He has proposed a route between Boston and New York, (at a rate) equivalent to the Tokyo-Nagoya route “.
But just as in speed, Japan has a relentless international reputation for safety.
High-speed trains in the country has a record of zero accidents involving serious injury or death in nearly six decades.
“Building the Chuo Shinkansen take long, we have to dig many tunnels” said Seki.
Instead of building through the mountainous terrain of the country, most of maglev tracks go below the earth.
A Japanese law passed in 2001 prevents developers to build public spaces below 40 meters deep have to buy the land under which they are working.
This also means that the iconic images of the bullet train passing Mount Fuji are a thing of the past, since 85% of maglev tracks go underground.
For Seki, it is a small price to pay for such speed.
“With the construction of the maglev line, I think the government expects further economic development in Japan. Reduce travel time while stimulating the movement (between cities), “Seki said.
“It will change the ways of doing business and the lifestyle of people.”