I rode the world’s fastest train.

I rode the world’s fastest train.

I thought maglev trains were a dead-end technology: but it looks like I was wrong. At JR Central’s Yamanashi Maglev Test Track, I rode Japan’s new maglev. ■ The maglev: https://scmaglev.jr-central-global.com/ ■ The exhibition centre: https://www.linear-museum.pref.yamanashi.jp/english/index.html

Local producer: Yasuharu Matsuno at Mind Architect
Camera and edit: Julian Domanski

(This video has an English dub and limited audio description available. These are experimental and use AI-generated voices, so may not be perfect, and I can’t promise they’ll stay long-term. On supported devices, change the language option to use them!)

I’m at https://tomscott.com
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott
on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo

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45 Responses

  1. Tom Scott says:

    I did consider whether to put mph or km/h in the thumbnail. Alas, that’s not something I can localise to different regions yet…!

    • Iain Duncan says:

      As an American, km/h is both higher (therefore more thumbnail worthy) and more logical, both from a scientific and regional perspective

    • Helena Blakemore says:

      ​@Dan Fishman my current car has an analog speedometer, and it’s only a few years old.

      Also, the UK used MPH for roads as well.

    • Helena Blakemore says:

      Please don’t localize it. I’m an American that was raised with mph, but I love learning and using kph in practical ways (like for fun videos) helps me understand it.

    • Kazimir says:

      96% of the world is not using mph

  2. zollotech says:

    So great to see this is still moving forward. Just like you I thought we would have them all over by now.

  3. xPreame says:

    That drive-by gave me chills. Wow. This is some incredible technology.

  4. JakobHartzMusic says:

    The part where the wheels come up at 5:30 is such a cool moment. What an amazing technology!

    • Daniel Schwenk (Imkerei Schwenk | Ulm) says:

      Transrapid wouldn´t be in need of having wheels, it can float at 0km/h already and then accelerate to up to 500 or, as the chinese promise with their copy CRRC CF600, 600km/h. The speed is generated by the railway and the statorpackages underneath it, since that would be the engine of a transrapid (EMS-Based).

    • James Kwan says:

      Completely like taking off at a really shallow angle of attack … just before an unrestricted climb, of course

    • Spotter Crazyperson says:

      Indeed! 🤩

  5. Ethan Davis says:

    The fact it still looked super fast at 1/4 speed is incredible

  6. memejeff says:

    Please don’t feel the need to apologize about being excited. Everyone loves it when you get excited. Amazing video as always. I hope that this test track will pave the way so that it finally becomes a bit more mainstream.

    • Captain Keller says:

      If Tom is excited, you know the Video is a banger.

    • Will Van says:

      @DrDewott and from what I’ve seen, ‘maglev’ (don’t know the actual terms) is usually only used for smaller machines for precision when little to no friction is needed such as balancing scales.

    • DrDewott says:

      Maybe, but I still think Maglevs are gonna be a tad niche. They’d still be much more expensive than conventional high speed rail, with a lower benefit, and still some key issues like lower capacity. The Japanese maglev trains are notably smaller than their existing bullet trains, particularly in width, making them carry fewer passengers at a time. That’s on top of other difficulties like the track switching mechanism which is much more complex and slow for Maglevs requiring much more time to set them right. That means that while there can be a conventional bullet train between Tokyo and Nagoya every 2-3 minutes, there has to be a gap of approximately 10 minutes between each Maglev train.

      One of the reasons the Maglev is even viable between Tokyo and Nagoya, and its planned extension to Osaka is because these are already megacities well beyond whats seen in most of the world, plus the fact that the conventional high speed railway between the cities is so congested that there’s no room for additional trains. In most of the world where high speed rail exists that’s barely a concern as of now.

  7. Dkaloger says:

    Tom Scott is truly making the most out of his trip to Japan .

  8. Arewmon says:

    When I lived in Japan, it took me about 40 minutes on the subway to go from my local station in the suburbs to where I went to school in downtown Tokyo. The fact that now I could go to Nagoya from Tokyo in that exact amount of time is frankly mind blowing.

  9. Joe.0 says:

    Just got back from a tour of Japan a couple of days ago, and I had the JR rail pass the whole time… incredible is an understatement! Clean, quiet, smooth, and hilariously fast. It was so convenient and comfortable that I wish I could use one instead of flying across the states. Timely video, and the trains I was on still weren’t going even close to 500k!!! Plz bring these to the northeast US hahaha

    • SP says:

      @Depremere Also the aviation industry

    • zeroibis says:

      @芽瑠 The primary limitation of bullet train service in Hokkaido was the renovation of the Seikan Tunnel, not snow.

    • Izzy says:

      @Mark Bridges Oh dw it snows a crap ton in Japan, some of the snowiest snow you’d ever see. They’d already have to deal with this exact same issue with other high speed transportation systems, so lots of snow is a logistical problem that they would have thought about immediately, and they’ve had over 20 years to think about it.
      Something that I was more worried about was how the magnets could affect personal electronic devices, ranging from phones/computers to medical devices such as pacemakers. But considering the consequences if they were affected, it’s something that would have had to be addressed immediately out of necessity, so it’s not a problem that worries me too much. Physics nerds, if you have any info, I’d love to hear it!

    • Stephan Weinberger says:

      @芽瑠 yes, but when there is so much snowfall that it causes notable issues on the rail network, roads and airports are equally in trouble. So I wouldn’t use that as a benchmark.

    • 芽瑠 says:

      @Stephan Weinberger To be fair, bullet trains in the snowiest regions of Japan were only recently completed in 2016 because of the logistics of removing snow. And most of Hokkaido still doesn’t have bullet train coverage, it doesn’t even go to the capital yet until 2027 or 2030.

  10. Timothy Hopper says:

    3:44 “That’s incredible! I don’t have words. It’s my job to have words for a moment like this, and I don’t!”
    If only more YouTubers were as articulate – and as humble – as Tom is.

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