According to HowStuffWorks, the bullet train, also referred to as the maglev train, works with the use of powerful magnets, metal coils and a large electrical power source. Maglev is a term that stands for magnetic levitation, which refers to how bullet trains quickly glide across railways.
Magnetic levitation does not require the use of steel wheels and tracks. Maglev trains are not powered by engines that use fossil fuels. The tracks that are used have metal coils stimulated by a magnetic field that guides the train forward. Magnetic levitation is based on the scientific principle of electromagnetic suspension, or EMS. EMS relies on the natural law in physics that opposite poles attract. Maglev trains appear to float above the track because the force of the magnets creates no friction between the train and the track.
The Shinkansen was one of the first types of bullet trains used in Japan. This train could reach up to 186 miles per hour. Newer maglev trains are more advanced and can reach a maximum speed of 310 miles per hour. The older Shinkansen models take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to make a trip between Osaka and Tokyo. However, maglev trains can make that same trip in only an hour.