The World’s Fastest Bullet Train Is Being Tested in Japan

The Alfa-X can travel up to 250 miles per hour

JR East's Alfa-X is the fastest bullet train in the world.
JR East's Alfa-X is the fastest bullet train in the world.

Japan is preparing to take rail travel to the next level, raising the bar for efficiency and reliability.

The country began testing the world’s fastest bullet train last week, Bloomberg reported. Called the Alfa-X, the train is capable of speeds up to 249 miles per hour. However, rail company JR East plans to operate the bullet train at 225 miles per hour when carrying passengers. This means the new train will operate about ten kilometers per hour faster than China’s Fuxing Hao, which links Beijing and Shanghai.

Japan’s high speed bullet trains, called Shinkansens, made their debut in 1964, the same year as the Tokyo Olympics. The trains have a reputation for timeliness and efficiency and are a viable alternative to air travel, connecting passengers from Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto and other destinations across the archipelago. The Alfa-X, which reportedly stands for “Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation,” is part of an initiative to offer faster travel to Sapporo, a major city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido.

The train’s design is key to combatting massive wind resistance, with a sleek, 22-meter (72-foot) nose comprising the majority of the first car. The ten-car bullet train will have air brakes on the roof as well as magnetic plates near the rails to slow down, along with traditional brakes. The Alfa-X will also use dampers and air suspension to maintain stability when taking curves, supporting balance and comfort for passengers.

While the train began test runs between the cities of Aomori and Sendai last week, it isn’t scheduled to go into service until 2030. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, by the time Alfa-X hits the rails, it may no longer hold the title of the world’s fastest train. A new maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya is currently in development that could give Alfa-X a run for its money. Capable of reaching a top speed of 505 kilometers per hour, the magnetically levitated train is scheduled to begin operations in 2027.

Editor’s Note: RealClearLife, a news and lifestyle publisher, is now a part of InsideHook. Together, we’ll be covering current events, pop culture, sports, travel, health and the world.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.