Here’s your chance to ride maglev shinkansen in spring, nine years before service starts

Japan’s shinkansen is already incredibly fast; they don’t call it the “bullet train” for nothing, after all. But even with some shinkansen trains reaching speeds of 320 kilometers per hour, Japan Rail (JR) engineers are still looking to make rapid rail travel even quicker.

JR’s current major development project is a superconducting maglev shinkansen that will run between Tokyo and Nagoya, levitating 10 centimeters above the track and traveling at up to 500 kilometers per hour. It’s not scheduled to go into service until 2027, but tests of the technology have already begun, and now Central Japan Railway Company (also known as JR Tokai) is offering ordinary rail fans the chance to ride along on a trial run this coming spring.

Between now and Feb 16, JR Tokai is accepting applications for passengers on demonstration runs of the in-development superconducting maglev Shinkansen. The voyage is a round-trip ride that starts from and finishes at JR Tokai’s Yamanashi Research Center, travelling along test tracks specifically built for the development of the train.

Six trains will run on each of the eight demonstration days, which are the 23rd, 28th, 29th, and 30th of March, plus the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th of April. The earliest group gathering time is 10:15 a.m., and the latest 4:15 p.m. JR says the entire program will take roughly two hours for each group.

Two types of applications are possible, the first for one or two people (priced at 4,320 yen total) and the second for a group of three or four passengers (8,640 yen total). Applicants are asked to list three choices of date/time combinations, and since JR expects the largest number of applications to be for weekend and mid-day applications, avoiding those times will probably increase your chances of being picked.

JR hasn’t said exactly how fast the test train will be, so it’s unlikely to hit the promised 500-kilometer-per-hour mark, but this is still a chance to experience the future of Japanese trains almost a decade early, and applications can be made here: http://linear.jr-central.co.jp/experience/requirement/2018-01.html

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