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TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese railroad will invest $3.1 billion to develop high-speed magnetic trains over the next decade, the company said Monday, just days after a crash of an experimental magnetic train in Germany killed 23 people.
The spending by Central Japan Railway Co. will expand a test track just west of Tokyo and fund new magnetically levitated, or "maglev," trains carriages.


This is not an insignificant matter. There was no guarantee, at all, that Japan was going to go on with the next phase of the project. In fact, I told the CEO at AMSC's annual meeting that, having been at the various Maglev research and test facilities in Japan (some time ago), it had become pretty clear to me that a true operational system would not happen if - as the original 1980s planning went - Japan was limited to the low-temperature superconductors that it has been using. Something had to change.

Now the announcement today is not for an 'operational' line; but, it is in the path of that development. In short, the Japanese are pressing on, And the accident in Germany has no technical bearing of course. Not only was the German accident un-related to the technology -after all, trains have been plowing into things left on tracks for over a century - the German and Japanese technology is unrelated; since the German trains aren't superconducting.

This also keeps the possibility alive that AMSC might get something out of this. When the Japanese decided to test some HTS wire on the train last year, they didn't do it with wire from each of several manufacturers; they asked for proposals from each (including, I believe, Japan's Sumitomo), and picked only AMSC's to test. And from all accounts the test went well. Given that things in the 2nd generation HTS wire world at AMSC are at least as good - or better - than they've ever been in recent years, if there is a way AMSC might talk them into expanding the testing of the wire in the real-world train segment, they'll be working on it.

jp

http://apnews.myway.com//article/20060925/D8KBTCO00.html
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