Passengers will be able to travel 680 miles, between Tokyo and Sapporo, in less than four hours.
The picture of a “bullet train” speeding past Mount Fuji is an iconic image of modern Japan.
In recent years, however, Japan has lost the “world’s fastest passenger train” title to China — if only by a few miles per hour. But now, Japan plans to reclaim that crown, with a new bullet train that will whisk between cities with journey times that rival passenger jets.
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.
At that speed, the 680-mile journey between Tokyo and Sapporo, the largest city in the northern Hokkaido region, will take less than four hours. That’s around half the time it takes today, thanks to a new high-speed railway line that is set to open between the two cities in 2030, when the Alfa-X trains will go into service.
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.
The $91 million test train has 10 cars and is driven by powerful electric motors in the first and the last cars that draw their power from overhead wires. These two cars will be tested with elongated nosecones, extending up to 72 feet long, that reduce the loud booming noise created when the train travels into a tunnel.
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