The first test phase for a train capable of reaching 400 kilometers per hour starts in Japan: according to Bloomberg, ALFA-X is the fastest train in the world. At the moment.
ALFA-X stands for Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation: a rather resounding acronym for the new 10-wagon train developed by the East Japan Railway (JR East).
Only the latest of Japan's borders in terms of railway technology, and other developments are already on the horizon: ALFA-X will soon be dethroned by the Maglev between Tokyo and Nagoya scheduled for 2027, which will reach a speed of 505km per hour.
Why not first?
David Grossman in an article on Popular Mechanics provides the answer: it involves integrating a train with a totally different concept on existing systems. ALFA-X is longer than current trains and has a 22 meter long “nose”, for aerodynamic and sound reasons, reducing the noise at the entrance to the tunnels.
And then the characteristics of ALFA-X deserve the tests that are announced (two test trips a week for 3 years): temperature and vibration sensors practically everywhere, air brakes on the roof as well as traditional ones, magnetic platforms to be combined with particular points of the route and vibration reduction systems to reduce the impact of any earthquakes.