The SCMaglev (superconducting maglev, formerly called the MLU) is a magnetic levitation (maglev) railway system developed by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) and the Railway Technical Research Institute.[1][2][3]

On 21 April 2015, a manned seven-car L0 Series SCMaglev train reached a speed of 603 km/h (375 mph), less than a week after the same train clocked 590 km/h (370 mph), breaking the previous land speed record for rail vehicles of 581 km/h (361 mph) set by a JR Central MLX01 maglev train in December 2003.[4]


The SCMaglev system uses an electrodynamic suspension (EDS) system. Installed in the trains' bogies are superconducting magnets, and the guideways contain two sets of metal coils.

The current levitation system utilizes a series of coils wound into a "figure 8" along both walls of the guideway. These coils are also cross-connected underneath the track.[3]

Levitation system

Guidance system

Propulsion system

As the train accelerates, the magnetic fields of its superconducting magnets induce a current into these coils due to the magnetic field induction effect. If the train were centered with the coils, the electrical potential would be balanced and no currents would be induced. However, as the train runs on rubber wheels at relatively low speeds, the magnetic fields are positioned below the center of the coils, causing the electrical potential to no longer be balanced. This creates a reactive magnetic field opposing the superconducting magnet's pole (in accordance with Lenz's law), and a pole above that attracts it. Once the train reaches 150 km/h (93 mph), there is sufficient current flowing to lift the train 100 mm (4 in) above the guideway.[3]

These coils also generate guiding and stabilizing forces. Because they are cross-connected underneath the guideway, if the train moves off-center, currents are induced into the connections that correct its positioning.[3] SCMaglev also utilizes a linear synchronous motor (LSM) propulsion system, which powers a second set of coils in the guideway.


Japanese National Railways (JNR) began research on a linear propulsion railway system in 1962 with the goal of developing a train that could travel between Tokyo and Osaka in one hour.[5] Shortly after Brookhaven National Laboratory patented superconducting magnetic levitation technology in the United States in 1969, JNR announced development of its own superconducting maglev (SCMaglev) system. The railway made its first successful SCMaglev run on a short track at its Railway Technical Research Institute in 1972.[6]

Miyazaki test track

In 1977, SCMaglev testing moved to a new 7 km test track in Hyūga, Miyazaki. By 1980, the track was modified from a "reverse-T" shape to the "U" shape used today. In April 1987, JNR was privatized, and Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) took over SCMaglev development.

In 1989, JR Central decided to build a better testing facility with tunnels, steeper gradients, and curves.[6] After the company moved maglev tests to the new facility, the company's Railway Technical Research Institute began to allow testing of ground effect trains, an alternate technology based on aerodynamic interaction between the train and the ground, at the Miyazaki Test Track in 1999.

Yamanashi maglev test line

Construction of the Yamanashi maglev test line began in 1990. The 18.4 km (11.4 mi) "priority section" of the line in Tsuru, Yamanashi, opened in 1997. MLX01 trains were tested there from 1997 to fall 2011, when the facility was closed to extend the line to 42.8 km (26.6 mi) and to upgrade it to commercial specifications.[7]

Commercial use


In 2009, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism decided that the SCMaglev system was ready for commercial operation. In 2011, the ministry gave JR Central permission to operate the SCMaglev system on their planned Chūō Shinkansen linking Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027, and to Osaka by 2045. Construction is currently underway.


Since 2010, JR Central has promoted the SCMaglev system in international markets, particularly the Northeast Corridor of the United States.[1] In 2013, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe met with the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama and offered to provide the first portion of the SC Maglev track free, a distance of approximately 40 miles.[8]


In late 2015, JR Central partnered with Mitsui and General Electric in Australia to form a joint venture named Consolidated Land and Rail Australia to provide a commercial funding model using private investors that could build the SC Maglev (linking Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne), create 8 new self-sustaining inland cities linked to the high speed connection, and contribute to the community.[9][10]


  • 1972 – LSM200
  • 1972 – ML100
  • 1975 – ML100A
  • 1977 – ML500
  • 1979 – ML500R (remodeled ML500)
  • 1980 – MLU001
  • 1987 – MLU002
  • 1993 – MLU002N
  • 1995 – MLX01 (MLX01-1, 11, 2)
  • 1997 – MLX01 (MLX01-3, 21, 12, 4)
  • 2002 – MLX01 (MLX01-901, 22)
  • 2009 – MLX01 (MLX01-901A, 22A: remodeled 901 and 22)
  • 2013 – L0 Series Shinkansen
  • 2020 – Revised L0 Series Shinkansen
MLX01-1Kōfu-end car with double-cusp headDisplayed at the SCMaglev and Railway Park1995
MLX01-11Standard intermediate car
MLX01-2Tokyo-end car with aero-wedge head
MLX01-3Kōfu-end car with aero-wedge headDisplayed at the Railway Technical Research Institute1997
MLX01-21Long intermediate car
MLX01-12Standard intermediate car
MLX01-4Tokyo-end car with double-cusp head
MLX01-901AKōfu-end car with long headRemodeled and renamed from MLX01-901 in 20092002
MLX01-22Along intermediate carRemodeled and renamed from MLX01-22 in 2009


Manned records

Speed [km/h (mph)]TrainTypeLocationDateComments
60 (37)ML100MaglevRTRI of JNR1972
400.8 (249.0)MLU001MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackFebruary 1987Two-car train set. Former world speed record for maglev trains.
394.3 (245.0)MLU002MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackNovember 1989Single-car
411 (255)MLU002NMaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackFebruary 1995Single-car
531 (330)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line, Japan12 December 1997Three-car train set. Former world speed record for maglev trains.
552 (343)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line14 April 1999Five-car train set. Former world speed record for maglev trains.
581 (361)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line2 December 2003Three-car train set. Former world speed record for all trains.
590 (367)L0 seriesMaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line16 April 2015Seven-car train set.[11] Former world speed record for all trains.
603 (375)L0 seriesMaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line21 April 2015Seven-car train set. Current world speed record for all trains.[4]

Unmanned records

Speed [km/h (mph)]TrainTypeLocationDateComments
504 (313.2)ML-500MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test Track12 December 1979
517 (321.2)ML-500MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test Track21 December 1979
352.4 (219.0)MLU001MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackJanuary 1986Three-car train set
405.3 (251.8)MLU001MaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackJanuary 1987Two-car train set
431 (267.8)MLU002NMaglevMiyazaki Maglev Test TrackFebruary 1994Single-car
550 (341.8)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line24 December 1997Three-car train set
548 (340.5)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line18 March 1999Five-car train set

Relative passing speed records

Speed [km/h (mph)]TrainTypeLocationDateComments
966 (600)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test LineDecember 1998Former world relative passing speed record
1,003 (623)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test LineNovember 1999Former world relative passing speed record
1,026 (638)MLX01MaglevYamanashi Maglev Test Line16 November 2004Current world relative passing speed record

See also


  • Hood, Christopher P. (2006). Shinkansen – From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32052-6.
  1. Central Japan Railway Company (11 May 2010). Test Ride of Superconducting Maglev by the US Secretary of Transportation, Mr. Ray LaHood. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  2. Central Japan Railway Company (2012). "Central Japan Railway Company Annual Report 2012" (PDF). pp. 23–25. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  3. He, J.L.; Rote, D.M.; Coffey, H.T. (1994). "Study of Japanese Electrodynamic-Suspension Maglev Systems". NASA Sti/Recon Technical Report N. Argonne National Laboratory. 94: 37515. Bibcode:1994STIN...9437515H. doi:10.2172/10150166. OSTI 10150166. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  4. McCurry, Justin (21 April 2015). "Japan's Maglev Train Breaks World Speed Record with 600km/h Test Run". The Guardian (U.S. ed.). New York. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  5. The airline distance between Tokyo and Osaka is 397 kilometres (247 mi). To achieve an average speed of 397 km/h, such a train would need to be capable of speeds in excess of 500 km/h to allow for acceleration and deceleration times, intermediate stops, and additional distance incurred by a land route.
  6. U.S.-Japan Maglev (2012). "History". USJMAGLEV. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  7. Central Japan Railway Company (2012). "The Chuo Shinkansen Using the Superconducting Maglev System" (PDF). Data Book 2012. pp. 24–25.
  8. Pfanner, Eric (19 November 2013). "Japan Pitches Its High-Speed Train With an Offer to Finance". The New York Times (New York ed.). p. B8. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  9. "General Electric, Japan Rail and Mitsui all aboard high-speed rail proposal". Financial Review. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  10. "Consolidated Land and Rail Australia Pty Ltd". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  11. リニアが世界最速590キロ 長距離走行記録も更新 [Maglev sets new world record of 590 km/h - Also sets new distance record]. Sankei News (in Japanese). Japan: The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 16 April 2015. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.

Further reading

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