The first of a new generation of high-speed, magnetic levitation trains has been unveiled in Japan, designed to operate at speeds of more than 310mph.
The front car of the Series L0 maglev measures nearly 92 feet long – of which 49 feet forms an aerodynamic nose section – and is fitted with 24 seats. A full 16-carriage train will be able to carry 1,000 passengers.
Designed by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), the state-of-the-art trains are scheduled to go into use in 2027 and link Shinagawa Station, in central Tokyo, with Nagoya.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Japanese premier Yoshihiko Noda met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia on Tuesday, reaching an agreement to discuss the potential of bringing Japan’s shinkansen (“bullet train”) technologies to the populated South Asian country. Specific conditions have yet to be set, but India has been looking into a high-speed railway project for the future.
Japan’s experience and developments with bullet trains would specifically be applied to a 680 kilometer (422 mile) route that would connect the Indian cities of Pune, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad, running through several highly populated areas. This would be the central focus of India’s plans, which include six different high-speed train routes across a total of 4,100 kilometers (2,548 miles). The expectation of the Indian government is that equipment be manufactured locally, a strategy that would cut costs, attract investments, and provide new job opportunities.
A representative from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism commented that the sideline meeting between the two countries’ leaders may have given the country a leg up over bidders for the project. Japan’s bullet train technologies and rail cars have only been exported to Taiwan, but earlier this year Hitachi landed a deal to bring $7 billion worth of high-speed trains to the U.K. In addition, several Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, as well as Brazil in South America, are looking into high-speed train advancements in order to serve their growing economies and populations.
Emergency workers are battling to rescue survivors from the mangled wreckage of two Chinese bullet trains involved in a high-speed collision which left 33 dead and nearly 200 injured, reports said.
The first train had been halted by a lightning strike and was rear-ended by the second, state media said, causing two carriages to fall off a viaduct in a disaster likely to raise fresh questions over the safety of China’s rapid rail expansion.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao called for ‘all-out efforts’ to rescue injured passengers, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Japan is set to launch at the weekend its next-generation high-speed train, featuring sleek green and silver cars with pink stripes and named for the peregrine falcon.
The "Hayabusa," the first upgrade of Japan’s bullet train fleet in 14 years, has sparked such excitement among railway buffs that one ticket for Saturday, when it debuts, sold for thousands of dollars on the internet, media said.
The train clocks in at a top speed of 300 km (180 miles) an hour, making it the fastest train in Japan — and just short of China’s Harmony Express, a cross-continental rapid transit line that hits a high of 350 km an hour.
"It is indeed a bullet train that represents the high level of our company and Japan’s technology," said Tomoyuki Endo, manager of the Shinkansen Group at East Japan Railway Company.
"Not only with its speed but also with its eco-friendly, speedy, reliable and comfortable mechanical performance as well as its fine passenger service."
Walt Disney World in Florida may be the next stop for bullet-train makers in Japan and China.
Central Japan Railway Co. and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. are competing for the $8 billion President Barack Obama granted for 13 high-speed corridors across the U.S., including a Tampa-Orlando line that may include a station at the Walt Disney Co. resort in Orlando. The Japanese company, also known as JR Central, is eyeing North America as a shrinking population at home limits its growth.
France’s Alstom SA, Germany’s Siemens AG and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. also want to sell trains, tracks and operating equipment under an initiative that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHoodcalled “an absolute game-changer for American transportation.” The high-speed corridors include New York- Buffalo, New York; Los Angeles-San Francisco; and Chicago- Detroit.
“High-speed rail is going to be a big industry in the U.S.,” said Masayuki Kubota, who oversees the equivalent of $1.8 billion in assets at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. in Tokyo. “A lot of companies are going to try and get a piece of the action.”
With the new pledges in Public Works that Obama is making there are no new ideas. Converting government buildings to green buildings is a step in the right direction to saving energy, but it’s not a new idea. Maintenance of roads and interstates are not going to solve any global warming issues. It’s just more of the same. We need to invest in real infrastructure change. A large scale project such as commuter Bullet Trains that connect each major city would have the biggest impact on helping to curb emissions and protecting the environment. It would also set up central hubs that smaller state projects could tie into and that opens the door to suburban commuter trains, which could truly lessen our dependence on oil and help us be free of more cars. In Japan, automakers are seeing a decline in automobile sales due to the fact that the younger generation is not buying cars! It’s no wonder, if you go to any major city in Japan, you will see a great mass transit system. And better than that there are bullet trains connecting all parts of the country and major cities. Why not invest in this instead of bailing out so many failing automakers in America? Better, instead of a bail-out give these failing automakers the contracts to build the trains and create this infrastructure, while modernizing their industry. Or give it to the failing airline industry and lets start taking domestic trains instead of domestic planes.