| 2:09 PM EST

China Readies 375-mph “Maglev” Train

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China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. aims to begin production in 2021 of a magnetic levitation train system capable of speeds as high as 600 kph (373 mph). A prototype train was unveiled this month.

The state-run company estimates such a system could reduce travel time, including parking, boarding, waiting and other preparations, from Beijing to Shanghai to 3.5 hours. This compares with 4.5 hours when traveling by plane and 5.5 hours for current high-speed (220-mph) trains.

Maglev uses magnetic repulsion to lift a train up and to propel it forward on a thin cushion of air. The system virtually eliminates friction, thereby enabling super-fast speeds.

China has been operating a maglev train from the Shanghai airport to the city’s business district for several years. That train hits 267 mph during the 19-mile trip.

Japan also is testing maglev trains. But commercial service isn’t expected to start until 2027 with a route between Tokyo and Osaka. Japan also is working on faster conventional rail trains, which currently top out at about 200 mph. Next-generation models are expected to increase this to nearly 250 mph.

So-called hyperloop systems team maglev technology with pressurized passenger cabins that could raise operating speeds to 700 mph or more. Several companies are developing hyperloop technology, which was proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013.