August 26, 2019
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Fastest shinkansen train to begin test runs in Japan

Tokyo, May 10 (efe-epa).- Japan's newest model of shinkansen train, the Alfa-X, which has a record-breaking top speed of 400 kph (249 mph) on traditional rail lines, is scheduled to undergo its first test run between the northern cities of Sendai and Aomori on Friday.

Test runs will be conducted from time to time until the train starts operations.

Company sources told EFE that the runs will be done at night at a time when the trains are usually not as crowded as in peak hours.

The Alfa-X will operate between Tokyo and the northern city of Sapporo, located around 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) from the Japanese capital, and will cover the distance between the two cities in four and a half hours.

The world's fastest train will not go into service until 2030.

The design of the new train reflects the aerodynamics of the machine. The model that was shown to the media on Thursday in Miyagi prefecture, located north of Tokyo, had 10 carriages and was 250 meters (820 feet) long.

The nose of the first carriage has a length of 16 meters while that of the last is 22 meters long. The train will not turn around once it reaches its destination which is why the aerodynamics of the longer nose will allow it to cope with winds blowing from the north.

Among other features of the model is greater resistance to snow and cold as well as improved stability in the seats, which will be placed further apart than usual.

Japan has for decades been designing faster and more comfortable trains. Currently, the fastest model is the E5, which entered service in 2011 and operates in Japan and France with a maximum speed of 320 kph.

The Alfa-X will surpass that speed by 40 kph with passengers to reach a speed of up to 360kph but passenger-less, it can hit a speed of up to 400 kph. A mid-sized aircraft such as the Boeing 737 can reach a cruising speed of around 800 kph.

It will be a long process before the new shinkansen train model starts carrying passengers since it has to undergo years of tests to determine its safety.

Although Thursday's trial run was the first, the testing period will consist of different phases, the first in 2021 with trips that will be carried out twice a week at night.

The train was manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries at a cost of around 10 billion yen ($91 million)

Japan is also developing a new maglev line which will begin operations in 2027 and travel at a top speed of around 500 kph.

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