Japan's maglev bullet train set a new world record for speed this week by traveling at 590 kilometers per hour (366 mph), breaking the maglev's own record of 581 kilometers hour, set in 2003. The Central Japan Railway Co., known as JR Central, said it will try to break the record again by traveling at 600 kilometers per hour next week. That's faster than the cruising speed of some commuter aircraft.
The train zoomed through a test course in central Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture with 29 technicians aboard. JR Central doesn't expect to open its lines for business until 2027 -- at which point the trains will run at a maximum speed of 505 kilometers per hour -- but the company is already hoping to export its technology to the United States, potentially for a train for New York to Washington.
Japan is at work on a train line to ferry customers between Tokyo and Nagoya, reducing the 178-mile journey to 40 minutes.
Maglev trains rely on levitation technology, in which a magnetic charge lifts and moves the train along a guideway track. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit the U.S. later this month and will make a trip to California, where a high-speed railway connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles is under construction. That train could be up and running by 2029 and travel at 320 kilometers per hour.
The JR Central bullet train is scheduled to make its next record attempt Tuesday.
Below is a video of a maglev train (from the Wall Street Journal) like the one that broke the world record, followed by a young passenger's reaction when a maglev train travels past in the opposite direction.