Japanese Floating Train of the Future Has Arrived

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Just when you weren't sure whether Japanese trains could get any faster or more convenient, the Central Japan Railway Company unveils the prototype for a floating maglev train designed to hit 311 miles per hour.

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Granted the train isn't scheduled for use until, oh, 2027, but the specs are impressive. The train manufacturer, known as JR Tokai for short, recently showed the public its "Series L0" prototype. With a 92-foot-long front car and a lengthy aerodynamic nose, the 14-carriage train will float above the tracks.

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This frictionless train will use magnetic levitation — maglev — to take passengers from central Tokyo to the western city Nagoya in about 40 minutes. For a bullet train, that trip currently takes closer to 90 minutes. By car, the distance between the two cities is a little over 200 miles.

Magnetic levitation promises insanely smooth, quiet and high-speed transportation. But, as Gizmodo's Andrew Tarantola rightfully pointed out, maglev trains are far more expensive and technically challenging to build. This particular project will ultimately cost a mind-boggling $112 billion, Engadget's Nicole Lee reported. For perspective, Boston's Big Dig project cost $24.3 billion, including interest.

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Once the Tokyo-Nagoya leg is completed, the plan is to extend it to Osaka by 2045. Maybe at that point Japanese train prototypes will just be teleporting passengers. A girl can dream, right?

Photo: Central Japan Railway Company's Series L0 prototype is designed to travel at 311 miles per hour. Credit: Phys.org.

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