Japan’s levitating train travels 300 mph and just carried its first passengers

A Japanese train that ever-so-slightly floats above the tracks and moves at super-fast speeds completed its first run with passengers last week.

The maglev train (shorthand for magnetic levitation) carried 100 passengers over a 27-mile span in Japan between the cities Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of 311 mph; monitors charted the train’s quick speed. In December, the train will be tested over an eight-day period.

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The maglev method of transportation works with the help of magnets; its top speeds put other trains to shame. In the U.S., high-speed rail travel hasn’t been adopted in a widespread way, but in countries like China, some commercial travel trains like the Shanghai Maglev Train can reach speeds of 268 mph.

The maglev train is designed for commuters; it can carry up to 1,000 travelers in 16 cars. In addition to the "floating" carriages that hover a few millimeters above the track, the train’s elongated nose reduces wind resistance for quicker travel.

While details about the technology are few and far between, the maglev model is slated to be ready for use by 2017 and will carry passengers from Tokyo to Nagoya. That journey typically takes about 80 minutes, but the maglev train’s technology will cut that travel time in half, according to The Daily Mail.

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