Japan's past and future trains float and roll at SCMaglev and Railway Park

CNET | 8/17/2019 | Geoffrey Morrison
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Click For Photo: https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/I-GxlypDGa7JrL4cs9SHo79er_8=/756x567/2019/07/31/21881115-0e26-4f6e-8680-33d0f24f2f32/scmaglev-and-railway-park-61-of-52.jpg

Maglev sounds as sci-fi as teleporters and hovercars. A train that levitates above a track using electromagnets and cruises at aircraft speeds? That couldn't possibly be a reality. Except it is. China has one that connects Shanghai with its airport and flies along at 268 mph (431 km/h). Japan, seeking to reclaim its crown as the world's leader in amazing train tech, is set to open its own maglev route from Tokyo to Nagoya in 2027.

Yes, open. Not only has the track been built, but they've been testing it for decades. One of the MLX01 maglev prototypes is the jewel of JR Central's train museum in Nagoya. Appropriately called the SCMaglev and Railway Park, it highlights multiple bullet train generations, plus some even older models from Japan's long history of rail travel.

Trip - Nagoya - Look

On a recent trip to Nagoya, we decided to have a look.


Maglev - Portmanteau - Levitation - Using - Electromagnets

Maglev is the perfect portmanteau of "magnetic levitation." Using superconducting electromagnets, the train actually hovers slightly above a track, no wheels or rails required. Also using magnets, the train is propelled forward, crazy fast.

The MLX01 looks like a train that's been stretched and pulled to look super aerodynamic. The insides look like an airplane. Smallish windows and seats say "737" more than "train," but this is just the prototype. When this thing enters production in a few years, it's safe to assume that the seats will be as comfortable as the current cabins on shinkansen, Japan's iconic bullet trains.

Inspection - Weirdness - Panels - Side - Covers

On closer inspection the weirdness starts to reveal itself. The boxy panels on the side aren't covers for wheels and bogies, because there are no wheels on a maglev. The panels are where the magnets would be and their slightly rough appearance is easily explained by the very nature of being a prototype.

It's easy to imagine this thing zipping along...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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