Chuo Shinkansen

“Chuo Shinkansen” is the name of a new bullet train line using maglev technology. The distance between Tokyo and Osaka(550km) will be covered in less than one hour!. Isn’t it amazing? Sometimes I spend more time moving between stations inside Tokyo. They will finish the construction by 2030.


Tokyo and Osaka are connected with a Shinkansen line since 1964. You can travel from Tokyo to Osaka in 2:30 hours, the Nozomi trains are the ones with the highest average speed in the world. More than 300 hundred trains travel from Tokyo to Osaka every day transporting nearly half million passengers. Some trains have 16 wagons and are able to carry around 2.000 passengers. The average delay in the last 40 years is only 20 seconds. It’s like these two cities are connected by a metro line.

The new “Chuo Shinkansen” will connect even more these two megalopolis. There is already a test track working, and here is one of the tests showing a train moving at speeds near 600km/h:

More info here.

10 replies on “Chuo Shinkansen”

That’s awesome. I wish we had those here in the U.S. Maglev seems like the way to go for future high speed transit. Japan’s existing Shinkansen are already 30 to 40 years old and will probably need to be replaced in the next 50 or 60 years. Maglev seem to be the option.

Why do they need 20 years to build it while the original Shinkansen line took only five years?

The maglev train will not be an option for the Japan Railroad in the future .
Why ? The cost : in case of an earthquake, it will be too expensive to repair and I believe that the connection between Tokyo and Osaka will be expensive enough to maintain.
No wonder that the good ol’ rail are still there in Japan…
Oh, and besides, they need 20 years to build the maglev line precisely because it’s not a railroad.

I have to disagre there, FishNet. These newfangled technologies always have problems with upkeep and budget until they’re further in use. I don’t think all trains will be MagLev anytime soon, but it’s going to happen.

As for track-upkeep, earthquakes pose a problem for normal tracks too. Neither method is failsafe.

Let me be more precise :
I didn’t say that normal tracks were earthquake-proof.
A railroad is simply more flexible, easier to replace, cheaper to build and to maintain than a maglev line.
The ratio speed/cost is not attractive enough yet compare to the railroad :
The maglev train sure can go pretty fast (approx. 600 km/h) but trains, let’s say for instance the TGV, can go nearly as fast too ( approx. 590 km/h for the world record).
I know that the average speed of a tgv is about 300 but we know that it could go faster.
600 and 590 are not a big deal…
So, on one hand you’ve got an expensive line for a top speed of 600 and on the other hand a railroad train that can go approx. to the same speed for cheaper cost.
I think that important cities will be connected by the maglev line (like Kyoto, Osaka…) and others will have a normal railroad with a powerful train like the nozomi on it.

TGV cannot travel at 574kmh for regular use. This was special route with larger wheels, higher voltage in motors and higher tension of catenary wires – not feasible for use every day as damage is caused much more quickly to equipment!
Also, even current shinkansens cannot travel beyond 350-360kmh with existing tracks, new Fastech 360 is the limit of current systems. Japanese train lines have much more urban traffic and tunnels than France, so there is much greater problem of noise pollution this is why shinkansen is limited to 170kmh inside cities.

Actually.. the Japanese Mag-lev will cost less to operate in the long run, will be quieter (except when exiting tunnels) cost less to maintain (less friction means less wear and tear) and will be able to run on conventional tracks with a few modifications to those tracks.

The most expensive part of the line is the tunneling, which would be required if it were shinkansen as well. Since the Maglevs float over tracks and in fact under 100km/h actually sit on them, the line can be easily converted to Regular Shinkansen if the line fails.

Regular Shinkansen can’t run much faster than 360km/h for a few reasons: wear and tear on caternary wires and tracks, as well as noise pollution because of caternary wires and tunnel exits.

Mag-lev does not these two shortfalls. The Chuo line is estimated to be about 80% underground. While this means that you won’t see much of the scenery, your trip will be shorter than most subways.

Actually, since the majority of the Shinkansen will be underground it will be protected from earthquakes. The reason why we see so much damage happen during a regular earthquake is because everything is above ground and it sways and sways until it snaps (unless it’s been built to withstand that). If it’s underground…the tunnels will behave much like a boat on the ocean…it just kinda rides it through. So with that in mind, there would be only rather minor repairs to make with the Chuo Shinkansen above ground should a huge earthquake hit while the Tokaido could be completely mangled and unusable. This is why the plan is going forward instead of building just more steel wheel/steel rail lines.

It looks more like a plane inside!

Also it’s amusing to think that once they thought a train that could go 125mph (if the brakes failed on a hill) would kill the people on board because the air would be “left behind” somehow and they’d suffocate

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