Japan's maglev train sets speed record of 374 mph

We obsess over top speeds attained by supercars, but even if you were to ignore speed limits, cars don't represent the fastest way to cover land. Those bragging rights belong to trains. Specifically, maglev trains, and more specifically, the one being developed in Japan.

The island nation's experimental magnetic levitation train set a world record when it reached a top speed of 361 miles per hour back in 2003. It broke that record at 366 mph last week, but this week it broke the record again at a time-warping 374 mph.

The speed was reached for a brief spurt of barely more than 10 seconds, but over that time it covered more than a mile. The technology uses electro-magnets to cushion the train four inches above the track surface, allowing it to ride faster and smoother than a conventional train. Japan's maglev train is earmarked for deployment between Tokyo and Nagoya – a trip that takes five hours by car, but would only take 40 minutes by maglev train – but not until 2027.

In the meantime, China's maglev train remains the fastest in service, hitting 268 mph as it speeds through Shanghai. By comparison, Amtrak's Acela Express can go as fast as 150 mph, but aging infrastructure means it usually averages around 65 mph.

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