Faster high-speed trains

BANGKOK 13 May 2019: While we are getting our heads around the possibility of trains speeding across Thailand at around 200 kph, Nikkei Asian Review reported at the weekend the start of test runs for a train capable of cruising at 360 kph.

For Thai train buffs, the nearest high-speed train is under construction in Laos and the entire route is due to open by 2022 between Kunming in China and Vientiane the Lao PDR capital.  Covering a distance of 420 km across northern Laos, the train will reach speeds of 220 kph travelling from the Chinese border to just short of the Thai border in two hours flat.

It might become a tourist attraction for Thais to fly to Luang Namtha in North Laos to board the train a whiz south to Vientiane.  There is even the possibility that by 2023 the line could extend to Thailand all the way to Bangkok, but that’s a long shot possibly a decade away.

But in Japan, the reality of high-speed travel is shifting gear to the next level with the latest ‘shinkansen’ bullet train from Japanese rail operator JR East now ready to raise the top operating cruise speed by another 40 kph to reach a speed of 360kmp a world record beater.

JR East, formally East Japan Railway, previewed the full 250-metre 10-car version for the media last Thursday according to Nikkei Asian Review.

If the test runs go to plan, Japan will be home to the fastest trains in the world outperforming the TGV bullet trains in France.

Trials taking place late at night approximately twice a week to gauge the feasibility of a 360 kph cruising speed, will run until the end of 2021. The new train should go into commercial service by 2030. If the train achieves its touted speed, the trip between Tokyo and Sapporo would be nearly halved to four and a half hours.  The flight time between the two cities is one hour and 45 minutes.

(Source: Nikkei Asian Review)