All About Japan

Experience the Fastest Shinkansen to Date

| Technology , Trains

Japan's shinkansen are already incredibly fast; we don’t call it the “bullet train” for nothing after all. But even with some shinkansen trains reaching speeds of 320 kilometers (199 miles) per hour, Japan Railways’ engineers are still looking to make rapid rail travel even quicker. And intrepid train enthusiasts can test out the newest train.

The rail operator’s current major development project is a superconducting maglev shinkansen that will run between Tokyo and Nagoya, levitating 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) above the track and traveling at up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) per hour. It’s not scheduled to go into service until 2027, but tests of the technology have already begun, and now Central Japan Railway Company (also known as JR Tokkai) is offering ordinary rail fans the chance to ride along on a trial run this coming spring.

Between now and February 16, 2018, JR Tokkai is accepting applications for passengers on demonstration runs of the in-development superconducting maglev shinkansen. The voyage is a round-trip ride that starts from and finishes at JR Tokkai’s Yamanashi Research Center, traveling along test tracks specifically built for the development of the train.

Six trains will run on each of the eight demonstration days, which are March 23, 28-30, plus April 3-6. The earliest group gathering time is 10:15 a.m., and the latest 4:15 p.m. JR says the entire program will take roughly two hours for each group.

Two types of applications are possible, the first for one or two people (priced at ¥4,320 [US$39] total) and the second for a group of three or four passengers (¥8,640 total). Applicants are asked to list three choices of date/time combinations, and since JR expects the largest number of applications to be for weekend and mid-day applications, avoiding those times will probably increase your chances of being picked.

JR hasn’t said exactly how fast the test train will be, so it’s unlikely to hit the promised 500-kilometer-per-hour mark, but this is still a chance to experience the future of Japanese trains almost a decade early, and applications can be made here.

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