The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Technology

August 31, 2013

World's fastest train to resume trials as Japan plans new line

(Continued)

Bloomberg News — The company had 2.9 trillion yen in interest-bearing debt at the end of March and has said it plans to ensure total debt doesn't exceed 5 trillion yen. Its debt peaked at 5.5 trillion yen in fiscal 1991.

Worldwide, two maglev lines are already operating. In Shanghai, a train built with technology developed by Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp AG whisks passengers along at 431 kmh from Pudong International Airport to the outskirts of the city's financial district. A low-speed version called Linimo, with a top speed of 100 kmh, started operations on an 8.9 km track in Nagoya in 2005.

The maglev set to resume trial runs today is the fastest train in the world, with a record speed of 581 kmh.

The new line may benefit from projections showing that even as Japan's total population declines, Tokyo's will continue to grow as more people move to the capital. The number of people living in Tokyo prefecture is predicted to increase to 13.4 million by 2020 from 13.2 million in 2010.

The greater Tokyo region's population exceeds 35 million, making it the world's largest metropolis. With a planned extension from Nagoya to Osaka by 2045, the maglev line would put 64 million people within commuting distance of each other, according to the train operator.

JR Central predicts a maglev service will help persuade people to fly less and reduce reliance on highways. Fares between Tokyo and Nagoya will be about 700 yen more than the current bullet train, the company has said.

"There may not be a lot of new passengers to Nagoya, but when it's extended to Osaka there could be a significant business demand," Ryota Himeno, an analyst at Barclays Securities Japan Ltd. "Tokyo is becoming more expensive and crowded, and so companies might move some operations to Osaka once it opens. It all depends on the frequency and capacity of the maglev trains."

 

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