Monday, June 27, 2005

New Japanese Bullet Train

Seems to be all over the news today, but Japan Railway is testing a new bullet train that will operate at a record-breaking 223 miles per hour -- faster than many propeller airplanes.

Currently, the world's fastest trains in commercial operation are the Sanyo Shinkansen run by West Japan Railway, the TGV in France and the Eurostar which links London, Brussels and Paris, all of which can travel at up to 300 km per hour.

Top speed of 405 km per hour

The fastest bullet train currently operated by JR East has a maximum speed of 275 km per hour but the Fastech 360S is designed with a top speed of 405 km per hour in mind.

It is equipped to stop quickly in the event of an earthquake or other emergency, with air spoilers similar to those on a plane being deployed. With the breaks deployed, this shinkansen looks like a cat. What a difference between Japan Railway trains and the still-being-repaired Amtrak Acela Express that never ran more than 150 mph and usually around 100mph. The closest thing to decent public urban transportation is NYC's subway system, but there's much to be desired. At this pace, with the American's love of cars, and perception of public transportation, the US will not be developing an effective train system anytime soon. I remeber travelling by train in Japan and across the Western USA as a kid, and am afraid to say that those fond memories will be gone in future generations.


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