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LO and behold: Levitating bullet train prototype, Japan.

LO series maglev train.

Nothing quite prepared me for the first time I saw the Japanese “bullet train”, it left me scrambling for my camera to get the shot as it pulled into Tokyo station. I now know that the train that so impressed me was the 500 series from 1995.

There have been five bullet trains in total, but at a recent press conference a prototype for a new magnetically levitating train will surely out-do them all to take the title of “bullet train” .

The “maglev” train hovers above its special rails on a magnetic field, thus reducing friction and allowing incredible speeds. This one is slated to travel at 500 km/h - 311 mph when in service. With maglev technology reducing track friction, the majority of resistance the train will encounter comes from air, explaining why the front is so unusually shaped.

The train, known as the Series LO, is designed to carry 864 passengers. But although they will start building the special track in 2014, the train is not scheduled to enter service until 2027.

For further details on the history of the maglev train.

For further details on the history of the bullet train.

Press conference to announce the new train.

O series train, 1964. Photo: Go Japan.

100 series train, 1984. Photo: DAJF.

300 series train, 1992. Photo: Go Japan.

500 series train, 1995. Photo: Nick Coutts.

700 series train, 1997. Photo:Go Japan.

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