Japan pitches maglev trains to the US

In Other News - November 20th, 2013

The impressive technology and breathtaking speed of Japan’s maglev trains have caught the attention of American officials looking for a train that would take passengers to and from New York and Washington DC in an hour.

On Saturday, former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York along with other dignitaries from the US, who were also part of the advisory board of The Northeast Maglev, climbed aboard the maglev train and cruised through central Japan in a special test ride.

“In the subway I’d need a strap, at least,” Pataki said. “This is amazing. The future.”

The Northeast Maglev, the company behind the effort, hopes to bring the technology to the Northeast Corridor. The maglev trains could make the journey in an hour, compared with just under three hours for Amtrak’s Acela, the fastest train in the US with a top speed of 150 miles an hour.

Japan has offered to cover several billion dollars in costs to bring the technology halfway around the world.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system free for the first portion of the 40-mile line.

“It is truly a dream technology,” Abe said in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange in September.

Central Japan Railway Company plans to begin construction of its first intercity maglev line next year, linking Tokyo with Nagoya, and, eventually Osaka. The Tokyo-Nagoya portion is not expected to be completed until 2027, with the Nagoya-Osaka stretch to follow only in 2045.

Levitation for the Japanese maglev train occurs at about 90 miles per hour. The train floats four inches above the U-shaped guideway, held aloft and propelled forward by superconducting magnets.

Although there is still some concerns about maglev technology. “Americans think levitation only occurs in horror movies,” former Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania said.

The US pitch could stoke demand abroad, Central Japan Railway said.

“In the past, the United States led the way in transport technology,” said Yoshiyuki Kasai, the company’s chairman. “Now the US transportation infrastructure is in bad shape. This time, why don’t the US and Japan lead the world together?”

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: t-mizo/Flickr