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Japan's maglev train breaks world speed record

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Train reaches 366 miles per hour on test run, but its reign may be short-lived

Junko Kimura/Getty Images

A maglev train in Japan reached a speed of 590 kilometers per hour (366 miles per hour) this week, breaking a world record that had stood for 12 years. Central Japan Railway Co. announced the feat on Thursday, after the company's seven-car train completed a test run on an experimental track in Yamanashi prefecture. The train beat the previous mark of 581 kilometers (361 miles) per hour, set in 2003, though a spokesman for the railway company tells The Wall Street Journal that the record may not stand for long. Another test run is scheduled for Tuesday, and the train's speed could reach 600 kilometers per hour (373 miles per hour).

The train company, known as JR Central, said the maglev was carrying 29 technicians on this week's record-breaking run, though speeds won't be that high once the line opens for business in 2027. JR Central expects the train to run at a maximum speed of 314 miles per hour between Tokyo and Nagoya, which are 178 miles apart. Once the maglev line is up and running, the company expects it to make that journey in 40 minutes, less than half as long as it takes today's bullet trains. Japan has been looking to export its maglev (magnetic levitation) technology to the US, and has offered to cover part of the costs for a new line between New York and Washington, DC.