first generation superconducting maglev system is now operating
in Japan. The system, which has been developed and built by Japan
Railways, is located in Yamanashi Prefecture north of Mt. Fuji.
Japan's system, and is based on the original maglev inventions of
Drs. Powell and Danby. The 20 kilometer long, 2-way guideway system
has succeeded in demonstrating the feasibility and advantages of
The Japanese vehicles are full size, commercial type maglev vehicles
that run on the JR (Japan Railways) u-shaped guideway. Speeds of
up to 350 mph have been achieved.
Intermodalism - that is, the capability to transfer easily and
efficiently between different modes of transport - is very desirable.
Because it can easily adjust to virtually any type of terrain, and
can use existing rights of way, maglev is highly intermodal. Stations
can be readily located adjacent to highways, airports, seaports,
and rail stations.
the completion of their maglev test program at Yamanashi, Japan
Railways will decide on whether to proceed with the planned 300
mile Tokyo to Osaka maglev system. Approximately 60% of the route
will be in deep tunnels, traversing the central mountainous region
of Japan. Maglev "trains", consisting of up to 14 vehicles attached
together, will make the 300 mile trip in approximately 1 hour.
Japan Railways has also developed a mechanical switch for maglev
guideways. The switch, must operate at low vehicle speeds, because
of length limitations. To switch from one guideway line to another
at high speed requires very long switch sections, hundreds of meters
at 300 mph for example. In contrast, the M-2000 electronic switch
can easily switch vehicles traveling at 300 mph.