World's Fastest Train Starts Tests in Japan

The Alpha-X train can hit a top speed of 400 kilometers per hour.
Jessica Miley

The world's fastest train has begun testing in Japan. The Alpha-X train is capable of achieving speeds up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) per hour. The high-speed train should enter real service in 2030, operated by Rail company JR East who will cap its top speed at 360 kilometers per hour.


This will help it edge out China’s Fuxing Hao, which links Beijing and Shanghai and has the same top speed. The train has a highly extruded nose which helps it deal with the massive wind resistance when entering tunnels.

Test period to last three years

At 22 meters long, this beak-like shape has just three windows and presumably little amount of space for passengers who instead will occupy the train's ten passenger cars.

Alfa-X starts its trial on Friday running between the cities of Aomori and Sendai at night, the test period will last three years.

Japan first introduced bullet train in 1964 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. The trains have become a symbol of Japanese efficiency. Bullet trains called Shinkansens are rarely late and leave every few minutes from Tokyo station for cities across the country.

Alpha-X will connect Hokkaido

The train speed and cost means that are often preferred over air travel. The Alpha X will be used to offer faster services to Sapporo, the biggest city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido.

“The development of the next-generation shinkansen is based on the key concepts of superior performance, a high level of comfort, a superior operating environment, and innovative maintenance,” JR East told Bloomberg.

The train while currently holding the world's fastest train title will probably lose its crown even before it begins regular service. A new maglev line is planned to connect Tokyo and Nagoya, starting in 2027.

The line will pass mostly through tunnels and will have a top speed of 505 kilometers per hour.

Three types of brakes 

Travel time between the two cities will be just done in 40 minutes done improved from the current 110 minutes. Alfa-X which stands for “Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation” has several types of brakes to help it stop efficiently.

Air brakes on the roof will be used in conjunction with magnetic plates near the rails as well as regular train brakes.

Curves are a potential problem zone for high-speed trains - dampers and air suspension are used on the Alfa-X to help it maintain balance and stability when negotiating corners.

Data from the train will be sent to both a central control center and maintenance facilities to ensure optimal performance and timetable accuracy.

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