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Japan Transportation

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph 419

An anonymous reader writes Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph. That's well over twice as fast as the fastest U.S. train can manage, and that only manages 240kph on small sections of its route. The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train. 500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.
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Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph

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  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:20PM (#48392251)

    Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph.

    Were they volunteers?

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:22PM (#48392265)

    how much does that cost to build?

      U.S. express passenger train run over old rails / rail lines.

    • Yes, but this seems to have turned into a big Achilles heal as far as our system is concerned. The "traditional" rail folks are usually against high speed trains. Low speed freight is the only type of train that gets political traction here. And, let me be clear: I don't think half the rail proposals I see in the US make any sense. A big reason why is: not elevated, and not fast enough! If its not elevated, why take it? It's merely a glorified bus with dedicated lanes. Do that if that is all there is
      • Better than cars (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @02:23PM (#48392719)

        > But, I ask, what is the point of a slow passenger train for commuting?

        Two points--

        (1) it reduces traffic congestion
        (2) it still may be faster than driving.

        If everyone who tooks trains into NY drove, we wouldn't have needed a large hadron collider. The Cross Bronx would have collapsed into a black hole.

        The problem at this point is building trains, not that trains don't make sense. It's politically sensitive to expropriate property.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        For commutes they're high density, a double train set is 500 passengers in one go. At least here in Europe trains are often the way for the suburbs to reach the inner city public transport (bus/tram/subway). As for long distance travel I'd favor trains over bus any day of the week. A train lets you get up and walk. The toilet is not extremely cramped. There's a cafeteria section where you can get some food and snacks. Sleeping cabins too, which can be a rather nice compared to flying in with a very, very e

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to wikipedia about $80bn (9 trillion yen). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%AB%C5%8D_Shinkansen

  • by exabrial ( 818005 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:23PM (#48392269)
    Not to be "that guy" but I thought airliners cruised about 600ish mph... which is about 1000kph.
    • by itsenrique ( 846636 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:35PM (#48392367)
      Thanks for pointing that out. However, considering the amount of time it takes to board/de-board a plane, the exact speed isn't as important as the total time spent between leaving your door, and arriving at your destination.
      • Even in Japan, for long distances (Tokyo->Hokkaido) people tend to prefer airplanes. They are faster.
        • In Japan maybe, but in the US? The security show sure adds a lot of time.

          • The security show sure adds a lot of time.

            Maybe. It seems security usually takes around ten minutes when I get on a plane these days. Of course, other airports might be different, but being groped (or gently fondled) is the worst part of security.

        • by ilguido ( 1704434 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @03:13PM (#48393009)
          Perhaps because the Hokkaido Shinkansen will open in 2016.
        • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @04:50PM (#48393529)

          This might have something to do with the fact that the two Hokkaido and Tokyo are on two different islands.

          In addition you can fly in Germany from Hamburg to Berlin and Munich. But still most people use the train. For two reasons. Hamburg Berlin is 1.5 hours by train you cannot reach the plane in that time and definitely not fly. Munich req. 6 hours by train so a plane might be faster, but you can jump on a train every hour without planning for a specific hour. You cannot do that with a plane.

      • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

        TSA is already involved with ground transportation and is likely to be moreso, especially if speeds and usage increase.

    • by sribe ( 304414 )

      Not to be "that guy" but I thought airliners cruised about 600ish mph... which is about 1000kph.

      I suspect that the reference to "average speed of an airliner" was not intended to mean "average cruising speed of airliners across models" but rather "average speed of a typical airliner over the course of the trip terminal-to-terminal", which would be significantly lower than cruising speed.

      So, in other words, typical imprecise writing from submitters and editors. Of course it's also possible they simply don't have a fucking clue what they're talking about, which would also be typical...

    • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:56PM (#48392523)

      777 cruise speed is 900 km/h, but the actual average speed from embarking to debarking - "block speed" - which includes loading, waiting for takeoff clearance, taxiing, takeoff, climbout, a percentage of adverse winds during cruise, waiting for landing clearance, landing, taxiing, and unloading - is a good deal lower.

      A block speed of 700 km/h, particularly over routes that are not very long, and match train route lengths, would not be too far off the mark. That's a lot closer to a train with a block speed not far short of 500 km/h, than is a naive comparison of 500 km/h to 1000 km/h.

      A train's block speed is also less than its "cruising" speed, but many of the factors that work against airliners are either absent or of reduced magnitude.

    • That's right, more or less. Jet planes do just under 1000kph ground speed, propeller planes are usually closer to 500 or 600.

      It's a little bit misleading to be comparing the vehicle's speed: what people really care about is how fast *they* travel, and how comfortable it is.

      For short haul distances, once you take into account all the constraints that trains don't have: check-in and dealing with luggage (at both ends), boarding through a single door (or two), limited cabin space, refuelling, taxiing and

    • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @02:26PM (#48392735)

      These turboprops that are used by regional airlines are indeed that slow (ATR-72 cruise speed is 510 kph, Saab 340's is 467 kph, Bombardier Q200's is 537 kph).

    • Well, adding getting through the security theater and grope show, getting in the plane, finally getting the slot for take off and then getting up to the flight level... with everything in reverse again after your flight...

      I'm not so sure whether US coast to coast travel wouldn't be faster in such a train. But then people would have to go without the ever pleasant and popular ball groping by some pervert.

  • kph? (Score:5, Informative)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:24PM (#48392277)
    It is nice to pick international system units, however it would be better to do it right. This should be km/h, not kph.
  • ...in places of high density
  • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:29PM (#48392321)

    Sure 500kph is a great achievement, but put it in perspective of what places that are interested in rail travel do, don't compare the speeds to the rail backwater that is North America. Normal trains in Europe do 300kph routinely.

    The problem with North American rail travel has never been a technology barrier, it's always been about having any interest in doing better.

    • The problem with North American rail travel has never been a technology barrier, it's always been about having any interest in doing better.

      Or more precisely, the problem with North America is that it's a country where most people would never even benefit from having high speed rail.

      The root cause of the lack of interest is that our nation's population is so spread out, you can't get rail to move you to your destination faster than a car, no matter how fast the train runs. It's not like densely populated ar

      • "most people would never even benefit"

        The things about areas of low population density is that MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT THERE.

        By population density New Jersey should have the same or better rail/cellular/internet/etc. service than Belgium or Switzerland.

    • Re:240km/hr? (Score:4, Informative)

      by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas@dsminc-co[ ]com ['rp.' in gap]> on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:58PM (#48392541) Homepage

      Having worked at a DOT the primary stumbling block to high speed rail is the NIMBLY's that have a house that backs up the the rail lines. The secondary issue is wanting to keep stations every town aka every few miles making the effective speed hard to get above 30mph with all the stops.

    • Normal trains in Europe do 300kph routinely.

      If with 'normal' you mean specialized trains running on a limited set of tracks, then yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]
      They apparently can go 575 km/h if you let them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

      What most people would consider 'normal trains' and normal tracks are limited to 200 km/h and usually less than that (130km/h and 160km/h are common speed limits).

    • Yes.

      Fast trains need well maintained tracks, specially built for the speed, and the curves also have to take that in mind. The advent of cars and later planes have pretty much undermined rail in America in terms of people transport and many lines are only suitable for slow-moving cargo trains, some as low as 10mph.

      We're talking track that will bounce up and down out of the ground a good 18 inches into the air. I've seen this often enough with an approaching train in some sections. That track couldn't tak

    • True, but of course the reason there is no interest is that it is not liable to be economically viable. The existing high-speed rail in the US is largely in the Northeast corridor because it can make money there. The proposed California high-speed rail (currently only planned to run between about Taft and Pixley) is a make-work project that has no potential for ever recouping the cost. That's the case for the vast majority of the US, there wouldn't be enough traffic and passengers to make it return the cost

      • The existing high-speed rail in the US is largely in the Northeast corridor because it can make money there.

        Not a single public transportation system in the US or Europe makes money. They all operate at a annual loss of anywhere between 10% (London Underground) and 90% (Austin CMTA): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

        Only a couple of places in the densest areas in the far east make enough to cover ongoing operating expenses but even they are not close to ever covering the initial cost to build it.

        Th

  • I was excited till I saw the units of measurement. 500 mph, WOOOHOO! 500 kph, not so cool.
  • Look, these high-speeds are not used for cargo, but for ppl. Worse, the real issue is not the rail, but the aerodynamic drag.
    As such, the real answer is hyperloop.
  • When you factor in the amount of time it takes to get from where you are, or where you live, into the city centre to catch this centre-to-centre train - and then out at the other end to your actual destination, is this really any faster than driving if you have a decent road network?
    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      It really is a matter of infrastructure. When I was living in france, I never drove a car. It was not useful. Driving was typically not much faster than taking the train. I could go to my university in 45 minutes while driving took about 35 minutes. But that gave me the opportunity to read in the train and to take a daily walk.
      Later I was studying in Grenoble and my parents were living in Paris. To go and see my parents, public transportation (bus+train_tgv+train_city+bus) was taking about 4 hours and a hal

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:47PM (#48392477) Homepage

    A train ride from Chicago to Atlanta takes 3 days and goes from Chicago to washington DC and then to atlanta to and costs as much as flying directly there in 2 hours.

  • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @01:52PM (#48392499) Homepage

    Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.

    This one seems REALLY easy to fix. Abolish the TSA, save billions in government expenditure and more billions in lost time and goodwill.

  • Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.

    No one is arguing against trains as transportation because they are too slow. The main argument against high-speed rail is cost. In fact, if it were cheaper, we'd have high-speed rail here in California already. Most people don't oppose having it, they oppose paying for it (especially once they find out the ticket price).

  • but maglevs are generally useless. Old school high speed trains can run so many more routes being compatible with plain old rail lines. That gives you oddities like spending most of the time on the shorter, slower portion of a trip but it works and you don't have to change trains. A decade or two later, the trip's duration gets shaved by another hour or two if more high speed track could be funded and built. Even then, there may be some controversy about the high speed tracks (another project that eats phy

  • Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph.

    Wow! They must be able to run pretty fast to catch it! Look out 2016 Olympics, here comes the Japanese train riders!

  • The OP said this:

    500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.

    Airliners routinely cruise at 550 mph, which is nearly 900 kph. So I guess trains are moving towards the speed of an airliner in a strictly technical sense, but in reality, even this one, which is not representative of the norm, is still only just passing 50%, so not even close yet.

    The

  • Wrong comparison (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @02:44PM (#48392859)

    The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train.

    What could possess someone to think it's ever valid to compare a maximum to an average?

    Compare a maximum to a maximum (500 kph for this Shinkansen vs 241 kph for Acela). Or an average to an average (261 kph for newer Shinkansen vs. 129 kph for Acela). So the difference is only 2:1, and mostly has to do with (1) established rail routes in the U.S. being much, much older so as not conducive to high speed, and (2) travel distances being much greater in the U.S. resulting in air travel being more economical/time-efficient.

  • We pay less taxes, so nyah! That trumps everything!
  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @05:23PM (#48393697)
    It doesn't matter how fast how fast your maglev trains go . . . until this tunnel [wikipedia.org] in Baltimore is replaced, it's impossible for trains in the NE Corridor to run that quickly.

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