The competition for the world's fastest train is heating up.
Last December, a Chinese passenger train achieved a new record by traveling 302 miles per hour during a test run on a still-unopened line between Beijing and Shanghai. Now, Japan's Central Japan Railway Company has announced that it plans to beat that record by building a new train between Tokyo and Nagoya, to be completed by 2027.
The new line, which is estimated to cost about $64 billion, will extend for about 178 miles. The company expects trains running on it to reach speeds up to 310 miles per hour. The line will cut travel time between the two cities by 40 minutes.
It currently takes an hour and a half using trains that run at about 167 miles per hour.
The trains increase their speeds by using magnetic levitation -- where friction is reduced because powerful magnets raise the train above the track.
On the flip side, Florida governor Rick Scott announced today that his state would be rejecting $2 billion in federal funds to build a proposed high-speed rail line linking Tampa to Orlando. Scott, a Republican elected in last November’s election, will be the third Republican governor to return funds allocated for high-speed rail.
John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin have also rejected high-speed rail funds, citing cost overruns.
In his State of the Union speech earlier this month, U.S. president Barack Obama said he would give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.
Considering that Amtrak's Acela Express line is the only version of high-speed rail in North America -- and even then, trains travel at just 150 m.p.h. along the Northeast Corridor -- we clearly have so much to learn from Asia.
[via New York Times]