Japan: Train fans experience super-fast maglev speed

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Media captionJapan's levitating maglev train reached 500km/h (311mph)

Train fans have experienced the speed of super-fast maglev trains, during test runs for members of the public in central Japan.

One hundred passengers whizzed along a 42.8km (27 mile) route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of up to 500km/h (311mph), The Asahi Shimbun website reports. The Central Japan Railway Company is running eight days of testing for the experimental maglev Shinkansen train on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. In total, 2,400 people will take part in the tests after winning tickets in a raffle. They represent a lucky minority - there had been more than 100 times that number of applications, the report says. "I applied for my nephew who is a big railway fan, but now I am more excited than he is," one passenger, who was travelling with his parents and two young nephews, tells the website.

The maglev trains are even faster than Japan's famous bullet trains, which currently travel at about 320km/h (200mph). They use magnetic levitation, hence the name, to "float" above the train tracks. This minimises the friction encountered by ordinary trains, and allows them to travel faster. Maglev trains are due to be up and running by 2027. The ones being tested in Yamanashi will eventually run from Tokyo to Nagoya, carrying passengers between the two cities in about 40 minutes. Currently the journey takes an hour longer than that by bullet train.

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