Japanese engineers are testing full scale prototype models of magnetic levitation (maglev) trains as they refine designs for what could become a new generation of high speed rolling stock. Central Japan Railway Company is testing two state of the art high speed maglev trains on the Maglev Test Line at Yamanashi near the capital, Tokyo. The trains' 23m long nose cones are packed with instrumentation that will monitor aerodynamic performance and ride quality so that designs can be adapted for passenger use.
During tests so far, the trains have reached maximum speeds of 552km/h. It is expected that passenger train designs will be ready by 2004.