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Japanese Train Sets A Speed Record Of 581 kph

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the son-do-you-know-how-fast-you-were-going dept.

Science 764

Azuma writes "Last night, on December 2, a high-speed Japanese train set a new record of 581 kph, breaking its own previous record. The new Maglev high speed had real passengers on board this time. They proved that the distance between Osaka and Tokyo can be covered in one hour's time. However, we wouldn't see real trains for a while now since the cost is prohibitively expensive at this time. However, they expect that the cost would come down over the next 20 years. This seems to be the future of transportation, at least in Japan. Here is a detailed article from The Japan Times."

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764 comments

Important - PLEASE READ! (-1, Troll)

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Ouch... (1, Interesting)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616976)

Bet those passengers were scared out of their pants. With it flying that fast, I'd be...if the thing derailed, you'd be really screwed.

Re:Ouch... (2, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616979)

  • Bet those passengers were scared out of their pants. With it flying that fast, I'd be...if the thing derailed, you'd be really screwed.
I've ridden some of the current shinkasens, and you really don't notice. It's a very smooth ride, and you feel very safe. The best I can compare it to is flying on an airplane, only quieter and smoother.

Re:Ouch... (5, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617017)

And much less hassle as well.

Train:
  • Arrive 5 minutes before departure.
  • Get on.
  • Travel, with passport check on the way.
  • Get off.
Airplane:
  • Arrive 3 hours before departure.
  • Check in.
  • Passport check.
  • Security screening.
  • Departure lounge.
  • Flight delayed.
  • Get on.
  • Travel.
  • Get off.
  • Baggage.

I, for one, welcome our new super-fast trains. I've used the 300kph trains (TGV,Eurostar,etc) and they are a really nice way to get around. For travelling within continents, these will a far better alternative than flying.

Re:Ouch... (0, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617109)

Arrive 5 minutes before departure.
Get on.
You can bet that this will change with these trains. The costs are high enough that it becomes a target so Security will be done.

Re:Ouch... (1)

boer (653809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617111)

But this is only until the first terrorist attack against railroad infrastructure. After that, I can see traveling with such high end trains being as much hassle than with airplanes today.

Re:Ouch... (5, Insightful)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617126)

You're forgetting that you can even take a comfortable night train and sleep while you travel. I do this with my family when we need to cover a "one night's distance". We loose less "wake time" and we arrive in a better shape.

Re:Ouch... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7616981)

It's hard(er) for a mag-lev train to derail sincehte 'wheels' wrap around the track. For it to derail it would have to rip the track apart. Not saying it's not possible but it's less likely to happen than on conventional trains.

Re:Ouch... (1)

charlieafrid (654116) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616988)

Its a mee toooo thing but to tell you the truth, the most famous Japanese astronaut was also onboard with lots of kids...it was a nice view

Re:Ouch... (1, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616989)

If a conventional train derails at 60mph you're screwed. What's your point, caller?

Re:Ouch... (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617007)

At 60 mph you still have a good chance to survive. Not so with 250 kph (search for "Eschede" and "ICE" on Google) or over 500 kph.

Re:Ouch... (4, Interesting)

shione (666388) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617015)

He was trying to make the point that at higher speeds the train would be more likely to derail. but he's wrong anyway as the bottom of the train wraps around the track. In order to derail the mag-lev train would have to rip the track apart. Additionally, since the train is wrapped around the track and doesnt just sit on it like conventional trains do, its possible to superelevate the track (track rises on one side as it turns). Superelevation is used to counteract the centrifugal forces as a vehicles makes a tight turn at fast speeds.

Re:Ouch... (1)

shione (666388) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617034)

me again.

if they don't superelevate they could use hydraulic jacks to tilt the train to one side as it turns, but that technology isnt just restricted to mag-lev trains.

Re:Ouch... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617068)

In France , the TGV derailed at least two times in 20 years. Each times at more than 250Km/h (150mph) No injuries, No deaths.

Because the train is linked upon boggies.

Re:Ouch... (1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617082)

>> If a conventional train derails at 60mph you're screwed. Uhh, I didn't know women where attracted to train accidents...

Re:Ouch... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7616991)

Actually MagLev trains are pretty safe. There are no rails to derail from a the train wraps around then track. One of the complexities is the difficulty in changing tracks as the whole track needs to be moved.

Re:Ouch... (4, Informative)

Walterk (124748) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617057)

Please take a look at a Maglev [ga.com] . Notice how it wraps around the track? It is extremely unlikely for one of these suckers to derail, and physically impossible for these things to crash into each other.

I for one welcome our Maglev overlords. At 581kph it should limit my 43 minute train time to school to roughly 8 minutes. Cross country [utexas.edu] ? At most 30.

Re:Ouch... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617159)

Actually thats the german transrapid. The japanese version is different. There the track wraps arround the train. Pic [spacedaily.com]

Re:Ouch... (2, Funny)

iamthemoog (410374) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617065)

"Last night, on December 2..."

Presumably they did the test at night so the passengers wouldn't be able to see anything and get scared... (apart from the 2001 Space Odyssey style mind-bending light show)

Obligatury Simpons quote (1, Funny)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616980)

"There's nearly [a train] that can out run a greased Scotsman"

Well ok its close

Rus

Re:Obligatury Simpons quote (2, Interesting)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617058)

Umm... a greased Scotsman is a train.

Re:Obligatury Simpons quote (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617087)

Yes, but are you the Caboose?

Re:Obligatury Simpons quote (1)

surstrmming (674864) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617132)

Umm... a greased Scotsman is a train.

My god! I could have sworn it was the nickname of the final production Linux Kernel 2.6.0 release.

Re:Obligatury Simpons quote (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617137)

I love those simple Simpons

361MPH (5, Funny)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616983)

for those of us who don't use that artificial metric crap. I mean, really, if God wanted us to use the Metric system, he would have made the distance between the King's nose and his thumb to be exactly one meter.

Re:361MPH (5, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617002)

for those of us who don't use that artificial metric crap.

Have you considered a job working for NASA or the JPL?

Re:361MPH (1)

TehHustler (709893) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617073)

You'd probably crash your car on the way to work. Fnarr....

Re:361MPH (4, Funny)

javiercero (518708) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617012)

Too bad god made his penis exactly 1 inch long... a lot of repressed feelings and wars due to massive inferiority complexes could have been avoided if God had been more generous with the King!

But then again, if God did not want us to use the metric system then how come s/he gave us Ten fingers? :) Rather than using the kings shortcommings, other people decided to use"standard" equipment.... unless you are one of them crab people, then you must be restricted to binary counting I guess.....

Yeah it is late and I have been coding 2 days straight....

Re:361MPH (2, Funny)

Dopefish_1 (217994) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617031)

But then again, if God did not want us to use the metric system then how come s/he gave us Ten fingers?

Well, just to be pedantic, God didn't give us ten fingers. He went for the more practical combination of eight fingers and two thumbs.

Re:361MPH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617022)

Who is this God person? Last Name?

Re:361MPH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617029)

Well, even the original poster was much too much used to your american/imperial units: we normal (metric) people use km/h, not kph as an abbreviation. Some people cut corners and say kmh but that is of courde WRONG. Even though most people who write roadsigns use kmh.

Re:361MPH (4, Funny)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617037)

for those of us who don't use that artificial metric crap.

Yes, for those of us with twelve fingers, imperial measurements are much more natural.

Re:361MPH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617039)

I mean, really, if God wanted us to use the Metric system, he would have made the distance between the King's nose and his thumb to be exactly one meter.

So the distance between the King's nose and his thumb is exactly one yard??

352.99407 cubits per second. (5, Funny)

zhenlin (722930) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617096)

God measured in cubits.

Also, 581 kph = 116.5050712 microparsecs per century.

Re:361MPH (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617129)

FUCK FUCK FUCK you dumb turd you fuck shit work for NASA don't you cunt there is no God its just a process of the mind a safety valve to save your sanity to keep you under contol FUCK FUCK the FUCK trouble is your nose is too close to your arse.. FUCK

Re:361MPH (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617130)

well, if GWB's nose keeps growing, it soon will be.

Re:361MPH (0)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617141)

You have: 581 km per hour
You want: furlongs per fortnight
* 970410.85

Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (5, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616994)

The one thing I came to like the most when I visited Japan on vacation a few years ago was the train service. Not having a car truly didn't feel like a loss when you could easily hop on a train and be where you wanted faster than you could drive there. (Especially in Tokyo.)

I just wish the US would invest in more passenger trains. They don't have to be super fast (like the one in this article), but imagine how much fuel/electricity we could save if we could all easily commute by train. And hey, you can always sleep on the train on the way to work, something you can't do while driving. (Or rather, something you shouldn't do, I'm sure someone's tried it.)

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617020)

that is not a healthy American attitude citizen! Please report to your local Security Office for realignment. The computer is your friend.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (2, Interesting)

Judg3 (88435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617023)

I think the reason the US as a whole doesn't invest more in trains is the fact that the country is A. Pretty big and B. Pretty Empty.
There's a lot less people per square mile here then in Japan and the like.
Personally, I love the Chicago transit authority. I've lived as far away as Milwaukee and still commuted into Chicago every day (in fact, living in Milwaukee the commute was shorter then a lot of other train lines - the train made 2 stops and went 80mph most of the way there, about 45 min commute). And that's just the suburban rail, the inner city railway (CTA) is pretty efficient as well, though I have less experience with it.

I've lived all over the US, and every big city runs more or less this way. Because in that case it makes sense. More people in less area. But I can't see a Maglev from Chicago to LA being setup because for the most part this 300MPH train would run through empty land.. Small towns, few people, etc. It would have a huge maintenence cost associated with it to, as they'd have to train people all over the country or have people roaming around ensuring the rails are fine.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617083)

I think the reason the US as a whole doesn't invest more in trains is the fact that the country is A. Pretty big and B. Pretty Empty.

That actually sounds more like a reason why it would be sensible to have a rail system to me, rather than a reason it hasn't got one.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (1)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617125)

I had a similar commute for a couple of years - about an hour doing between 50 and 80 MPH.

Now imagine that done at 4 times the speed - the hour becomes 15 minutes. I could get 45 minutes more sleep every morning, and 45 minutes more beer / TV / Sex / Xbox in the evenings.

Over the course of a year thats a whole lot of extra EVERYTHING. Roll on the new trains!

So right and So wrong (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617154)

While I do not fully agree with your assesment of Chicago->LA, the most important route to build would be NY->Pit->Det->Chg->Mil.
These 4 cities have more traffic between them than any other route in the USA. In fact, most airlines make all their profits doing cargo between NY/Chg.
As to Chi->LA, well, I would argue for 3 East-west high-speed maglevs with stops every 1000M. Likeiwise, 4 North-South (W, Rocky, Missisppi River, E coast) to carry cargo.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (5, Insightful)

dbleoslow (650429) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617024)

I live in Tokyo now and if there's one thing you can almost always count on, it's the train system. I know that if my commute is 30 minutes, it will always be 30 minutes, except for the rare exception, whether it's rush hour or late at night. I go back to the DC and I'm stuck on the Beltway during rush hour for 3 hours for what is normally a 30 minute drive.

I don't think passenger trains will ever catch on in The States. The population is just too spread out right now. Japan is roughly the size of California but with half the population of the US (If I recall correctly.) You just can't fit all those people on the roads at 1 or 2 people per car. And besides, how will all the salarymen molest the school girls if they're in a car and not crammed into a train :)

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (1)

Millbuddah (677912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617063)

I don't know where you lived around the D.C. area but when I lived in Bethesda, I never had more than a 20 minute commute using the trains there. Plus the walking after disembarking the train definitely was a plus. Hell, I've gained 25 extra pounds since moving away because I don't walk nearly as much to where I need to go.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (1)

dbleoslow (650429) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617143)

If you live or work on a train line, yeah it's okay. When I say DC, I mean the whole area. I would have to go to my main office every so often out in VA where the trains don't reach and then drive back to MD. The DC metro area has spread out quite a bit in the last 20 years and rail service hasn't kept pace.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617038)

[quote]I just wish the US would invest in more passenger trains.[/quote]

There's a reason why Amtrak is (or was) the only profitable railway network in the world: it runs very few passenger trains. Railways don't like passengers because they're a pain in the ass, expect to get places in a hurry and complain if they're late. Freight is the only thing that makes economic sense on railways, with the exception of a few commuter services in and out of big cities with traffic congestion problems.

[quote]imagine how much fuel/electricity we could save if we could all easily commute by train[/quote]

Imagine how much fuel/electricity is wasted running almost empty trains the rest of the day. If saving fuel and electricity is what you're after, you'd do far better to promote telecommuting than 19th century transport technology.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (1, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617052)

Dammit, there are far too many different bulletin board magic tag schemes these days, I can never remember which one to use where :).

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617041)

I'm sure someone's tried it.

Lots of people have tried it. Once.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (5, Insightful)

fruey (563914) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617045)

Too bad most places don't invest in more trains. However, investment usually implies a return, and most train companies lose money. The more captalistic a country is, the worse this becomes... note in the article " Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and the government-affiliated Railway Technical Research Institute." that it's a state sponsored initiative getting these things going.

The French TGV is one good example of a system that works, but it's not easy to replicate economically in a country like the UK where there is public outcry at any possible addition of rail links or something close to where they live (and population density is three times higher than France, so routing around people isn't as easy). The Eurostar now has high speed track for part of the link in the UK, shaving 20 minutes off total journey time, but the route is incredibly inefficient and could have been much more direct. Also, it was way off schedule!

The US gave up on trains long ago. Flights and cars are all there is, Amtrak is a joke. Ironic that the rail revolution made the US what it is today, and it has to be the major economy that has turned its back on rail the most. High speed services coast to coast would undoubtedly be too expensive though. I think there must be a magic ratio between average distance travelled by passengers, total country size, train running cost and so on which the TGV manages to get close to. The TGV rocks.

Re:Too bad the US doesn't invest in more trains (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617085)

"However, investment usually implies a return, and most train companies lose money"

Exactly: most countries screw the taxpayer, who probably just wants better roads to drive their car on, in order to keep the train unions in a job and subsidise rich businessmen taking long-distance train rides. I presume Japan is the same, since the Shinkansen trips I made over there a few years ago cost no more than trips of a similar distance on the clunkers British Rail were running at the time.

"Ironic that the rail revolution made the US what it is today, and it has to be the major economy that has turned its back on rail the most."

Hardly: it should be no surprise that the nation that's quickest to abandon uneconomic technology is the most successful. If only Britain had the same attitude, rather than some Luddite desire to keep trains running no matter how bad and inefficient they may be.

Oh puleez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617051)

How generic and vacid a statement can you make? More trains, where prey tell would you place your precious trains? Most cities that are dense enough to benefit already have rail systems (e.g. subways). The majority of light rail systems are failures since they suffer from the same problem that any mass transit system does in those cities that don't support the densities required to truely make them useful. Now if you're talking inter city trains, then you run into the issue to having to have feeder bus lines which limits their usefulness.

Now there are a few cities that probably could benefit from improved rail services. But these cities truely are few. I love trains, when I lived in SJ I took their new light rail whenever possible and rode BART and the CalTrain whenever possible. But the reality is that it requires a very specific environment to be successful.

Linus: work it! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7616995)

Hey all,

how about Linus' recent make over? Talk about queer eye for the geek guy. The guy looks a lot better now [wired.com]

Not to undermine open source, but the guy used to look like a complete dork [computec.ch] .

Maybe Linus can help remove the geek stereotype that is so often associated with Linux [bbspot.com] .

Nowhere close to max speed (5, Informative)

raahul_da_man (469058) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616996)

The maximum speed for a maglev train is considered to be around 580 kph due to limits in electrical facilities for the train, the engineers said.

We haven't seen nothing yet. It seems the more juice, the higher the speed. I for one hope to see mass production of Maglev trains. They will be vastly superior to planes at less cost.

I can't help thinking that maglev train development will help achieve cheap spaceflight as well. Imagine a spaceplane taking off from a maglev hitting 1000+ kph.

Re:Nowhere close to max speed (1)

martingunnarsson (590268) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617067)

Regular airplanes can already go faster than that, I don't see the big advantage of launching them off a train.

Re:Nowhere close to max speed (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617162)

The fastest passenger planes only just do 1100kph (Ignoring Concorde, which is no longer in service).

Besides, this is about launching spacecraft using a maglev or railgun system. The ability to launch a spacecraft at above Mach 1 with no fuel cost would be immensly useful.

Vegas to LA (4, Interesting)

The-Pheon (65392) | more than 10 years ago | (#7616997)

Living in Las Vegas, I would love a high speed rail to LA. It is all desert, plenty of room for a right of way! I'm sure the casino's would love getting people from LA to the city in an hour as well!

Just remember in ten years, it was my idea :)

Re:Vegas to LA (1)

Indy1 (99447) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617028)

good luck EVER getting the vote buyers er politicians to do anything with that kind of financial outlay. Between the environmentalists (gotta protect that desert turtle ya know?), miltary at ntc, offroaders, nimby-ists, etc, you'd never see something like this done in the US any more. Not that we couldnt use it badly, I-15 is a mess any more between LA and vegas.

Re:Vegas to LA (1)

Soporific (595477) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617140)

Someone made this proposal quite a while ago. I don't know if it was an "official" thing, but I remember when I had the hots for Vegas every weekend me and a buddy used to talk about it all the time.

~S

Bye Bye Airplanes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7616999)

Considering that commercial airliners don't travel this fast, this could be a really interesting development...

Personally I think it would be pretty cool to have trains over airplanes as the standard of travel in the US.

If you consider the Terrorist Threat factor. Free Roaming Plains are inherently more dangerous than trains stuck on rails.

Re:Bye Bye Airplanes (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617036)

Considering that commercial airliners don't travel this fast, this could be a really interesting development...

Umm, a Boeing 747 has a maximum cruise of 490kts which is around 580mph (although in service you wouldn't necessarily go flat out). The rather smaller Airbus A320 is a little slower (but only by 5kts or so).


Incidentally, fuck the "Terrorist Threat Factor". If you fund terrorists, you get terrorism. America is very lucky that it has only had a couple of terrorist attacks.

Re:Bye Bye Airplanes (1)

tortap-0 (306464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617074)

That was 580 kilometers per hour. Not miles per hour.

Re:Bye Bye Airplanes (1)

n3xup (411763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617155)

How are free roaming planes MORE dangerous?

A terrorist could just sit off the tracks and launch an RPG and really destroy the train.

It takes a lot more to knock a plane out of the sky or hijack it. I think you have your comment reversed.

too fast (-1)

dookie (136297) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617008)

How long before some terrorist group finds a way to sabotage a portion of the easily accesible track to wipe out a large group of passengers that close to the ground?

Re:too fast (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617040)

How long before some terrorist group finds a way to sabotage a portion of the easily accesible track to wipe out a large group of passengers that close to the ground?

I don't know how long, but if you have any information you should contact the police quickly.

Re:too fast (1)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617042)

Uhhhh "how long?" indeed. A normal train carrying just as much traffic and passengers can be derailed by as much as a couple of dimes on the rails, what makes you think there's going to need to be any "finding a way"?

Re:too fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617075)

"How long before some terrorist group finds a way to sabotage a portion of the easily accesible track to wipe out a large group of passengers that close to the ground?"

Hmmm bomb going off as train passes.
Bomb destroying track before train passes.

Seems about the same problem as ANY rail system. Although the fact that they use maglev tech should in theory lessen the total effect of acceleration as compared to say a conventional train derailment. I would hypothesize that the train would still go forward as it decelerated but the actual downward impact of breaking the magnetic field would be negligable. Any math, physics or engineering majors care to explain why this would or would not be the case?

How long before they place a bomb on a plane? (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617148)

Oh, wait they did that already. They also crashed 2 planes into very tall buildings and wiped out lots of people high up in the buildings. Better not live or work in or near any very tall buildings.

Re:too fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617150)

How long before someone thinks of the possible terrorist implications... Oh wait.

A friendly SI usage reminder (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617010)

kph parses as kilo*pico*hour. It makes no sense.

You probably mean km/h.

No need to bastardize a fine international standard.

Re:A friendly SI usage reminder (1)

perly-king-69 (580000) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617027)

No need to bastardize a fine international standard. Remember, this is /. - it seems anything is fair game for being bastardised. ;-)

Re:A friendly SI usage reminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617069)

kph parses as kilo*pico*hour. It makes no sense.

"Japanese Train Sets A Speed Record Of 581 kph (0.0000036 seconds)"

It makes sense, it just doesn't mention how far the train travelled in that time.

Impressive (4, Informative)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617016)


If you are going to visit Japan, there is a special travel pass you can get, which is only for tourists. It allows you to travel on any train in Japan over one, two, three or four weeks. It is well worth it.

Having spent three weeks travelling around Japan on their trains, I can confirm that they are very impressive. Many of the trains have the kind of luxury fittings that you'd expect to find flying first class. But they are expensive.

Although I believe that Europe is currently developing a Europe-wide high-speed rail system, Japan has had one for years. Why is it only Japan that has such an advanced train system? Travelling by train is great - much more environmentally sound and safer than travelling by car, and of course you get to use the travelling time productively, especially when the trains have plugs for laptops and network connections/WiFi.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617061)

When I was there (1995) the railpass was not for the really fast Shinkansens. Just regional trains and the 'normal' high speed trains (200 kph).

Re:Impressive (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617127)

I wonder if moving that fast causes problems with train-land wi-fi and cell networks due to the doppler effect? Imagine you're screaming toward a cell tower at 167 m/s (600 km/h) - that's a doppler shift of 500Hz at 900MHz, which I imagine could cause some problems.

Re:Impressive (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617138)

Japan's geography does lend itself to a high speed rail network. In fact, it's hardly a network. The Shankansen tracks simply follow the east coast with one fork branching off. Most of the major cities are built along a fairly direct line.

The US is a huge continent with important cities all over the place. You need a route from all of these to all of these, and rails are expensive to lay and maintain.

Europe should be better. France does have its TGV network, and various other countries might have their own fast rail services, but there's no real European transport policy. Each country just has their own policy. Eusrostar services connect the countries up to an extent, but that really only connects France to neighbouring countries. I agree that it's a shame rail travel isn't more viable. I enjoy travelling by train. The seats are larger than on planes, you can get up and walk around easily, and unlike driving, you can sit and read.

Sad... (-1, Offtopic)

dagg (153577) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617026)

It's sad that the first thing I thought of when considering such a train in the U.S. is terrorists. Sure, normal trains can be derailed, but derailing a train going 581kph would make bigger headlines.

Re:Sad... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617080)

what a stupid thing to care about.

Re:Sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617107)

Its sad that you've been brainwashed into thinking that.

Converted to MPH (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617044)


For those who don't want to look it up, 581 kph converts to 361 mph.

I've been on the Channel Tunnel Eurostar train from London to Paris and that tops out at 186mph. That was quite amazing. To think that this thing can hit twice that speed is mind boggling.

Macka

Re:Converted to MPH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617081)

I know how to convert km/h to the medieval nonsense that some of the Colonies like to hold on to, like mph, but what's this "kph" and how do you convert it?

Re:Converted to MPH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617088)

And I've been on a commuter train from Richmond to London that tops out at 5mph. The idea that a train can go faster than my granny is mind boggling...

Re:Converted to MPH (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617099)

It's expending 8 times as much energy to go twice as fast... which is even more amazing..

What they did not mention... (1)

Black Art (3335) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617047)

is if it stopped in Osaka or just kept on going from the inertia.

creators' newclear power 'faster' than maglev? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617053)

that train must certainly be faster than robbIE's fauxking PostBlock 'moderation'/censorship devise?

previously postdead:

hear/see/speak no evile? (Score:mynuts won, what's the hurry?)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, @05:44AM (#7616889)
that's what we'd tell 'em, adding, 'sell' no evile, which goes without saying?

we're a little suspicious of that miguel guise (& a few others, tell 'em robbIE) motives. but as monIEsucking becomes more&more 'stylish' in the 'community', sort of like corn passing through a bird's butt.

despite the fud0cide depicted buy the phonIE ?pr? ?firm? hypenosys of the fauxking corepirate nazi payper liesense softwar gangster stock markup FraUD execrable, the gnu millennium is well underway.

the increasingly popular pateNTdead eyecon0meter kode base is unbreakable, & wwworks on several (more than 3) dimensions. it's a real nightmare for those involved in unprecedented evile.

creators want compensation for planet abuse/damage? (Score:mynuts won)
by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, @06:57AM (#7581317)

not really? they just want US to stop wrecking it/killing innocents.

they're not just kidding about that.

you won't be needing any 5000$ hdtv either, or even a model rocket cam, to be able to sense the direction of the wwwinds of change, which are bullowing at gale force/farce.

even more to be thankful about? (Score:mynuts won, don't mention the monIE)

by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, @12:01PM (#7592801) /. putting stuff that matters into future storIEs? (Score:-1, Troll)

just kidding?

see also: stuff that really matters/chips ahoya @ a dime # dozen?

eating it/at all? (Score:-1, Troll)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, @10:02AM (#7592314)
?eating? in 3rd wwworld countries, for example
score: mynuts won, nothing to buy here?
Posted by CmdrTaco on Sunday November 30, @09:13AM
from the tang-makes-me-ill (how annoying that must be for us, & the folks over at tang.com?) dept.

morons write "What do you think babies aboard the ?other? side of the planet had for Thanksgiving? Roasted turkey? Wrong answer. In "less fortunate" areas, the pateNTdead eyecon0meter tells us, they had little of nothing, and gives details about space in their little bodies, where food ought to be. If the dining view, 200 miles of rough road, is unattractive, preparing 'meals' is even more so. For example, there is no food, so the babies must remain hungry for long periods at +- room temperature. And you need to avoid thinking about this scenario. The real 'stuff that matters' overview contains additional references, and includes directions by the creators, for their/yOUR newclear power, & planet/population rescue initiatives/mandates.

( Read More... | that makes sense )

consult with/trust in yOUR creators... the lights are coming up now in order to assist in the avoidance of overheating the main processor, &, facilitation of the aforementioned ncp/ppr programs/mandates.

for each of the creators' innocents harmed, there is a badtoll that must/will be repaid by you/US, as the execrabilious corepirate nazi perpetraitors of the life0cide against the creators innocents, will not be available to make reparations.

see you there? tell 'em robbIE?

Semi off topic. (2, Interesting)

taliver (174409) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617054)

But I thought I'd bring it up. Inevitably there are going to be long threads of why the US doesn't have this leading to conspiracies involving auto manufactures, oil companies, and congessmen payed for by Amtrak.

Before all that gets carried away, a minor side note. There was an article online, and if I find the citation I'll respond to my own post with it, that spoke of why using innerstates as guides for high speed railways was impossible. Basically innerstates have very frequent curves in them, and at the speeds these trains are going, you'd either be making everybody motion sick, or worse, throwing them back and forth inside the train. You need very straight shots for long distances for these to work right.

And, I might add, there's _very_ little incentive to have ultra-high speed trains from a legal perspective. The first time one of these has an accident every blood sucking vermin of a low-life profession would come sniffing around through the remains looking for anyone remotely related to anyone with at least a hangnail to sue the pants off whatever company was running this system.

Re:Semi off topic. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617077)

Actually, the only things keeping the US from getting such high speed rail are regulations and liability. Acela was crippled by too many far-overreaching safety regulations and fear of litigation, oh, and ridiculous union labor costs.

Also, the faster the train goes, the more accurate the spacing between the rails has to be. At 600kph (holy shit that's fast!), I imagine the rails would have to have less than a few millimeters of error - something that is very difficult to achieve, and I for one wouldn't trust union labor to be able to achieve that.

Now, speaking of straight shots, these high-speed rails would be great in the plains states... Imagine making it from St. Louis to Phoenix in a couple of hours, on the ground!

Re:Semi off topic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617145)

Rails??? It's a Maglev train, it floats above "rails" which are just nitrogen-cooled magnets.

Hornby watch out (1)

egs22 (680896) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617060)

That's a very fast train set. Er. Maybe I should RTFHeadline again.

Kilomiles per hour? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617070)

That's km/h, you Eenglish speaking folk! :-)

Japan is linear (5, Interesting)

reignbow (699038) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617078)

This is obviously very impressive. Maglev trains are very expensive (especially the track), but they reach enormous speeds. It gets even better if you let them run in a depressurised tunnel, allowing them to reach speeds of several thousand kilometers per hour. Of course, that costs lots of extra moolah, but its an upgrade possibility once maglevs have become more commonplace.

Concerning the question of why other countries don't have trains as cool as Japan - well, several reasons. The US just aren't interested. Appearantly, the American Way means having two cars per family and getting stuck in a traffic jam at least once a week. Besides, there are geographical concerns. America, as well as my home country (Germany) are definitely two-dimensional, rather than a linear strip of settlement like Japan, meaning that one requires a grid of synchronised train lines. Trust me, that's hard.

Also, for the US there's the problem of population density. Sure, in the cities, public transport has customers. But in the rural regions, there isn't enough demand to make narrow-interval trains profitable. And the broader the intervals (say, twice a day?) the lower the interest. After all, why wait two hours for the next train, when you can jump in your car now?

UK is waaaaay behind on this one (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617079)

... the average speed of our trains is about 5-10% of that! Or at least it seems like it.

A german firm just had to deliberately trash a 10-mile section of railway line, just to reduce it to the conditions that UK trains run on. It actually cost them money (a few million pounds) to simulate the pathetic condition of UK trains.

Unless you're in London, of course, where the tube is pretty good...

Simon

Re:UK is waaaaay behind on this one (1)

DrVxD (184537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617158)

> the average speed of our trains is about 5-10% of that!

You've obviouslt had better experience of the UK rail network than I have.

> Unless you're in London, of course, where the tube is pretty good...

Unless, of course, you're a Londoner :) It never fails to amaze me how much Londoners moan about the tube - maybe they ought to try public transport in other areas of the UK sometime. Of course, the thing with the tube is that 9 days out of 10, it works fine - and nobody notices. But on the 10th day, something goes wrong - and when that happens, the whole network seems to grind to a halt, and that's the day that people remember. When you get something right, nobody remembers. When you get something wrong, nobody forgets...

Maglev has been promised for 50 years (0, Interesting)

tintruder (578375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617101)

I remember as a little kid reading my dad's old Popular Mechanics and popular Science magazines about maglev trains and how they were imminent.

But other than test units, none have been deployed.

Why? Because the cost is exponentially higher than simple steel rails. Not just in construction costs, but also in the cost to power the trains.

Once you have maglev, you are restricted to long-distance trips because there is no maglev track feature similar to a "switch" which allows the trains to change tracks without slowing down to a crawl. Either you have just a few trains running the length of the track, meaning it isn't really "mass transit", or you operate like the current bullet trains do right now and stop at every station, losing the advantage of the high-speed capability due to frequent stops.

Remember that in order to stop on a siding, or to allow other trains to pass, you need the aformentioned "switches" which do not exist for maglev, thus they are only practical for long-distance hi-speed trips.

Given the lack of developable land in Japan, where do they expect to put the tracks, since they would have to serve the existing stations which feed regional, metro, and local rail? Would they replace the existing bullet trains?

Seems unlikely because you'd then move 10% of the passengers at 1000% of the cost.

Further, Japan is subject to earthquakes more frequently than most developed nations, often causing tremendous damage.

High-speed rail demands extremely precise rail alignment and a continuous maintenance program.

Fortunately, after an earthquake, existing rail lines can be quickly repaired with little more than sledgehammers, shovels and a welder in the back of a truck. Service is reestablished quickly, and the trains can run again.

Rail trains can even run efficiently at low speeds, as opposed to maglev.

Maglev relies on the aerodynamic flow between train and track to generate a "cushion" on which the train rides. At low speeds, this cushion is inadequate or nonexistant.

At low speeds, the power consumption skyrockets as the same coils remain energized for longer periods of time rather than rapidly cycling to the next zone. Resistance grows with heat and more power is required to do the same thing.

Thus the trains have to run fast to be tenable to operate. But if they run fast, they cannot make the stops necessary to carry the load necesary to sustain operations. Then to service these loads, they would need to build far more tracks, or sacrifice speed for stops, negating the touted speed of the train.

There is also the environmental/health impact of intense, uncontained magnetic fields. When you go for an MRI, you remove all metal from your body. People with metal implants cannot be MRId, else they be thrown about by the magnetic field, or the implant be torn from their flesh. Here, we have staggeringly powerful magnetic fields laid out linearly through the countryside. While cycled, LIMs must energize both in front of, and behind the moving payload, and are thus unshielded.

As I recall from riding the Shin extensively, you are rarely if ever more than 20 minutes between stops. The few "express" trains are curtailed in top speed and times available so they do not run into or get run into by the other trains making more stops.

Summary?

Great rail technology, as usual from Japan, but difficult to see how it will be utilized in their existing infrastructure on basis of facilities sharing, construction cost, maintenance requirements, earthquake survivability, and ability to generate sustaining revenue.

And of course, kids can't put coins on the rails any more!

Build your own! (4, Informative)

valentyn (248783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617113)

As we've seen home built roller costers and rockets on /., now is the time to build your own Maglev train. All you need is posterboard, foamboard, or cardboard, 20-30 square or rectangular magnets, masking tape. Then follow the instructions [fsu.edu] . Have fun!

Look at the picture... (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617121)

If that's what the scenery looks like, I'm not sure I'd want to fly by it at 581 kph.

Fast Food (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617123)

Or, as Godzilla likes to call it, "fast food"

Twenty Years ago... (3, Insightful)

Crass Spektakel (4597) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617124)

Twenty Years ago the first maglevs were build in Germany. Increadibly fast and very quiet. For Testingpurposes. Since then ... nothing happened. Oh, yes, they sold the whole stuff for a piece of bread to china which also build the first "german maglev" for public use. Well, in germany we still have no public maglev.

At least in central europa (germany, france, benelux) we have conventional trains running at speeds of 150-300kph since decades. But then europa has a highly incompatible trainsystem. Western Europa (except once Great Britain) uses one type of track, eastern europa another one and while the british system closely resembles western europas tracks its not safe for high speeds.

Thank goodness china desided to use western-europa tracks which will more or less force eastern europa and russia to adopt or wither away.

Re:Twenty Years ago... (3, Funny)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7617146)

>and while the british system closely resembles western europas tracks its not safe for high speeds...

or if it's hot, cold, snowing, raining, autumn, or if Jarvis has been within a mile of it.

WHOA!!!!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7617139)

581 Kelvins per Hour!!! That sure is a record. I wonder how they measured those kelvins. Was it from trail friction?

Maybe next time you Americans read what are abbreviations in metric system, before write an article that uses them.
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