Japan’s New Bullet Train to Reach 250 mph

Designs for the ALFA-X would trade interior space for improved performance and lower noise.

While the nation is working hard to replace the laborer with humanoid robots, Japan is also well known for its progressive approach to mass transit — and its commitment to the bullet train. 

Last week, the East Japan Railway Company (JR-EAST) announced plans for an experimental new train that could begin testing as soon as May 2019. They call it the ALFA-X, and they’re going to push the prototype to see if it is capable of reaching nearly 250 mph (400 km/h). Once in service, it would average 224 mph (360 km/h).

The ALFA-X will test two new nose designs: one that is 16 meters long and another that is 22 meters long. The noses were developed to reduce the pressure generated when the bullet train enters a tunnel at high speeds. With both designs, the trains trade interior space for improved performance and lower noise. 

The design also incorporates lighter materials and new vibration-damping components that make the ALFA-X more efficient and, hopefully, provide a smoother ride for passengers. JR-EAST also incorporated new earthquake-detection technology like "anti-earthquake dampers" which help keep the train stable when the earth starts shaking. 

The fastest train in America, the Amtrak from Boston to D.C., averages 68 mph — though it does top out at 150 mph along a few stretches — a far cry from the ALFA-X.

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