Travel at 249 mph: Japan starts testing world’s fastest bullet train

The East Japan Railway Company began testing Friday for what’s billed as the fastest bullet train in the world — the ALFA-X — projected to hit speeds of up to 249 mph.

The ALFA-X is a version of Japan’s Shinkansen train, which debuted for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, according to Japan Station, a Japanese transportation guide. The Shinkansen is a high-speed bullet train, the fastest of which can reach 199 mph. Stops include Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, among others. 

“The ALFA-X train is simply a prototype for use in test runs for the development of a possible future train,” Sanshiro Iwamoto, a researcher at the railway company, tells USA TODAY. “The projected speed should be 249 mph per hour maximum, but, again, speed will only be determined during testing.”

The recently completed ALFA-X testbed of East Japan Railway Co.'s next-generation bullet train is shown at a railway yard in Rif town, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on May 9, 2019. (Photo: Kyodo)

The ALFA-X began three years’ worth of test runs Friday, according to reports from Bloomberg and CNN.

The goal is for the ALFA-X to be introduced commercially in 2030, Bloomberg reports, noting the train could help to offer faster services to Sapporo, Japan’s largest city on the island of Hokkaido.

The anticipated speed benchmark of 249 mph would put the ALFA-X ahead of China’s Fuxing Hao train, which links Beijing and Shanghai and currently reaches soaring speeds of 217 mph.

The sleek-nosed design, for combating wind resistance, measures 72 feet, has 10 cars and is painted in metallic silver with green stripes, reports Bloomberg. The train will be tested between the Japanese cities of Aomori and Sendai, which are located over 200 miles apart. 

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