Kana Watanabe woke up that particular Tuesday morning in a particularly excited mood. She dressed quickly, gulped down a small helping of tamagoyaki and white tea, and rushed out the door. This was no ordinary morning. Today she was going to ride the bullet.
As she walked through the crowded streets of Nagoya she imagined how it might feel to be magnetically levitated and shot through the air at over 482 kilometers per hour. It seemed almost impossible that she’d be seeing her mom, 348 kilometers away in Tokyo, in only 40 minutes.
Her mom’s health had been declining in recent months, but Kana hadn’t been able to take the necessary time off to make the expensive drive. And as expensive and grueling as a 4 1/2 hour drive seemed, it still didn’t compare to her grandparents ordeals. She remembered hearing them talk about the many hours of hardship it took to make the same trip only a few decades earlier. Today was going to be different, though.
Today Kana was going to ride the bullet.
Since 1964 Japan has worked hard to create the world’s most advanced rail system. 1400 miles of tracks provide passengers with a network of destinations and current speeds hovering around 200 miles per hour. And they’re currently testing the new significantly faster “maglev” (also known as floating) trains and expect widespread commercial use to begin in 2027.
“Maglev” is short for magnetic levitation. These trains don’t have any wheels! And that exponentially reduces friction. Of course, that much less friction means blinding speeds.
And here are those bullet points I mentioned earlier. The completed train will:
* Travel over 300 miles per hour
* Have 16 carriages or cars, and
* Carry up to 1,000 passengers
So, you don’t have to die on, oops, I mean, ride the bullet alone.
Looking at the pictures of this aerodynamic bullet train and comparing it to the humble light rail in my neighborhood I wonder how Kana must feel. She’ll be flying through the air on a bullet. Makes my drive to the store, down the road, in my minivan, seem pretty boring.
But the way so many (maybe most) workers are on drugs these day, I’ll stick with boring.
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