Japan to launch 'Hayabusa' bullet train

Mar 04, 2011
The Maglev (magnetic levitation) train speeds during a test run on the experimental track in Tsuru, 100km west of Tokyo in 2010. Japan's latest bullet train, the thin-nosed "Hayabusa" or Falcon, will make its 300 kilometre per hour (186 mph) debut Saturday, boasting a luxury carriage modelled on airline business class.

Japan's latest bullet train, the thin-nosed "Hayabusa" or Falcon, will make its 300 kilometre per hour (186 mph) debut Saturday, boasting a luxury carriage modelled on airline business class.

Japan has built up a network of cutting-edge Shinkansen train lines since the 1960s that criss-cross the island nation and now hopes to sell the infrastructure technology abroad, including to the United States.

The latest ultra-fast tech-marvel will make three trips a day from to the city of Aomori, in a scenic rural backwater on the northern tip of the main Honshu island that has until now been off Japan's map.

The green-and-silver E5 series Hayabusa will travel at up to 300 kmh to make the 675 kilometre trip in three hours and 10 minutes. From next year, it will push its top speed to 320 kmh to become Japan's fastest train.

Passengers will glide quietly through the straights and tunnels that cut through Japan's mountainous countryside, says operator East Railway Co, which has heavily promoted the launch of the new service.

Those willing to pay 26,360 yen ($320) for a one-way trip can enjoy the comfort of a 'GranClass' car, where a cabin attendant will serve them as they enjoy deeply reclining leather seats and thick woollen carpets.

To promote the service, the train company has also heavily advertised Aomori as a tourist destination, praising its landscape, seafood and winter snow.

Japan's ultra-fast, frequent and punctual bullet trains have made them the preferred choice for many travellers, rather than flying or road travel, ever since the first Shinkansen was launched in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

But as Japan, and its railway companies, struggle with a fast-greying and shrinking population and falling domestic demand, the government and industry are aggressively seeking to promote the bullet trains abroad.

Japan has in the past sold Shinkansen technology to Taiwan and hopes to capture other overseas markets, such as Brazil and Vietnam, but faces stiff competition from train manufacturers in China, France and Germany.

The biggest prize is a future high-speed US rail network that President Barack Obama has promoted, to be backed by 13 billion dollars in public funding.

California's then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was treated to an early test ride on the Hayabusa when he visited Japan in September.

Japan says its trains boast a strong safety record: despite running in an earthquake-prone country, no passenger has ever died due to a Shinkansen derailment or collision -- although people have committed suicide by jumping in front of the trains.

Japan has also been developing a magnetic levitation or maglev train that, its operator says, reached a world record speed of 581 kilometres per hour in 2003 on a test track near Mount Fuji in Tsuru, west of Tokyo.

The plan is to launch maglev services between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. By 2045 they are expected to link Tokyo with the main western city of Osaka in just one hour and seven minutes, compared with the current two hours 25.

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User comments : 13

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teledyn
1 / 5 (5) Mar 04, 2011
In America too you say? So, like, what happens when one of these baby's hits a moose at 186 km/h?
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2011
This thing is so fast, when someone tries to throw himself infront of the train, the train has already passed.

although people have committed suicide by jumping in front of the trains.


aw.. i came to conclusions to fast.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (5) Mar 04, 2011
In America too you say? So, like, what happens when one of these baby's hits a moose at 186 km/h?


Most of the U.S. doesn't have moose. Most tracks I've seen are also elevated and would therefore be inaccessible to all but the Tibetan climbing moose.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2011
In America too you say? So, like, what happens when one of these baby's hits a moose at 186 km/h?

That's what the angled nose is for.

I could see a chance for this taking off in the US. How would much more appealing is it to ride in a super-fast train, rather than in a dirty bus?
fixer
1 / 5 (2) Mar 05, 2011
Not much use in Australia, wouldn't make it round the first bend.
M_N
1 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2011
Not really sure what's new here - seems like a story from 20 years ago.
epsi00
3.8 / 5 (4) Mar 05, 2011
thanks to US auto manufacturers, the US is way behind in the field of high speed trains. Here's a chance to start or maybe bring back some high tech manufacturing jobs. Nah, not enough profits, let's contract China to build the US network and maybe we will have the first trillionaire and set another record for filthy rich.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.3 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2011
If built in America, Republicans would just throw rocks on the track and blame Socialism for the wreck.
Walfy
5 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2011
thanks to US auto manufacturers, the US is way behind in the field of high speed trains. Here's a chance to start or maybe bring back some high tech manufacturing jobs. Nah, not enough profits, let's contract China to build the US network and maybe we will have the first trillionaire and set another record for filthy rich.

You might not want China to build high-speed trains in the U.S. China's chief train man recently got fired. There is much suspicion that they used cheap cement that will start warping in a few years, forcing them to slow the trains down.
eurekalogic
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2011
I can see subway tunnel trains not surface trains where even small animals or debris of all sorts can cause severe damage. I wonder if the old buried machines that made the new york subway system are still down there.... ;-)
Stamunga1
5 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2011
I can see subway tunnel trains not surface trains where even small animals or debris of all sorts can cause severe damage. I wonder if the old buried machines that made the new york subway system are still down there.... ;-)


Maglev tracks are elevated so I agree with trekgeek1 in that only large mammals such as the Tibetan climbing moose will be able to easily access the track. Second, Mag lev....magnetic levitation...so the train is suspended in the air on a cushion of polar resistance. Third, Japan has not noted any significant issues with local fauna being harmed by the speeding trains, definitely nothing compared to what we experience with airliners and roadkill.
Buyck
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2011
This is the future of transportation and surely in dense crowded countries or for big cities like in Japan and China.
fixer
not rated yet Mar 13, 2011
Would be interesting speculating on how a roosting Pelican would interact with a maglev train at over 500km/h.

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