The Alfa-X train, unveiled by rail company JR East, will carry passengers at up to 224 miles per hour, outpacing the fastest Japanese bullet trains in commercial service today by almost 25 miles per hour.
Chris Jackson, the editor-in-chief of Railway Gazette International, based in London, said JR East wanted to raise their maximum train speed to 224 miles per hour to achieve a journey time between Tokyo to Sapporo that rivals flying.
The Alfa-X will be tested over the next three years at speeds of up to 249 miles per hour between the cities of Amori and Sendai — but only at night, when regular trains aren’t running, according to a statement from JR East.
Currently, the world’s fastest trains in regular service run between Beijing and Shanghai, in China, at speeds up to 217 miles an hour, he said.
America’s fastest train, Amtrak’s Acela Express, reaches a top speed of 150 miles per hour between Boston and Washington, D.
The train also has a new suspension system designed to keep it stable if there’s an earthquake, and an ultramodern cockpit for the driver. “We want to improve not only speed, but also safety and comfort," project leader Ichiro Ogawa, who heads research and development for JR East, told the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi.
The Japanese maglev trains would run at speeds of up to 310 miles per hour, cutting what is now a 110-minute journey time to just 40 minutes.
Michael Smart, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, explained that the railway networks in the United States have been heavily used — but predominantly by freight trains, rather than passenger trains. “While the rewards — environmental, social and political — of a successful high-speed rail corridor could be quite large,” Smart said, “the political risks are also immense.
Japan's next-generation bullet train reached speeds of 198 miles per hour on a test run on May 16.