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Japanese plan to export maglev technology to United States

The head of the rail company behind the 500km/h Japanese maglev train system has set his sights on the East Coast of the United States as the location for the technology’s second line.

The Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) has the green light to build a first, 226km section from Tokyo to Nagoya and plans to open it in 2027.

“The second place to deploy this is the New York City to Washington DC corridor,” JR Central chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai told a seminar in London last week.

“It is the same distance as Tokyo to Nagoya and it has the right conditions,” he said, referring to the potential demand from the high population centres and the likely willingness of relatively affluent passengers to pay the fares.

JR Central already operates the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train system linking Tokyo and Osaka and has Japanese government approval to start operating its maglev system, which uses super-cooled superconductor electromagnets to drive high speed trains.

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism established technological standards for maglevs in December 2011 and Kasai sees this as an important factor in exporting the technology.

JR Central has been eyeing the US since January 2010 when it formally announced its intention to enter international markets.

It has teamed up with two Washington DC based companies to pursue several corridor projects in the US and other countries.

The first of these ventures, US-Japan High Speed Rail, is marketing bullet train technology while a second, US-Japan Maglev, is pushing the Superconducting Maglev. Both firms were founded by venture capital firm New Magellan Ventures.

The firms have examined over 150 potential high speed corridors worldwide and have settled on the New York to Washington DC route as the best option for maglev technology.

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