The Globally Recognized Japanese Bullet Train: With a Spectacular Speed of 320 km/h

The Globally Recognized Japanese Bullet Train: With a Spectacular Speed of 320 km/h

The Japanese bullet train is an infrastructure that has been globally recognized for it’s speed, efficiancy, and comfort. It is a high speen train system that is built to connect distant Japanese regions with the capital city of Tokyo, to support economic growth and development. The Japanese bullet train is nominated to be the fastest railway train in the world. It is the best way to travel between cities on land, it was so spectacular, it becomes a competitor for airline services. So in this article, we’d like to cover the magnificent Shinkansen.

Shinkansen and It’s Brief History

Japan Railways Group (JR) is the company that operates these Japanese bullet train, with extensive network of railways and trains that reach a top speed of 320 km/h (199mp/h) allowing passengers to get to wherever they need in such a short time. There’s a total of 9 lines in the Japanese bullet train system, taking us in different directions around Japan. With the Shinkansen, people can easily and quickly travel north from Tokyo all the way up to Hakodate on Hokkaido, or west past Osaka and Hiroshima to Kagoshima.

To know more about each railways and stations in detail, you can check here: Shinkansen: the Japanese bullet trains, By Japan RailwayPass

Railway map of the Japanese bullet train

Photo is taken from: Japan Guide
Railway map of the Japanese bullet train
Photo is taken from: Japan Guide

The Japanese bullet train is known for punctuality in which trains depart always on time, comfortably spacious and silent despite moving in high speed, safe with no fatal accidents in it’s history, and is very efficient. In the railways system, 3 different types of trains is roaming, there are fast trains, semi-fast trains, and local trains. The fast trains only stop at the main stations, semi-fast trains make a few more stops, local trains stop at every station. Shinkansen offer 2 different classes, Ordinary, Green Car (business class), and Gran Class (first class).

The first time Japanese bullet train are open for business can be traced back for more than 50 years ago. Tokaido Shinkansen started it’s operation on October 1st 1964, shortly before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. It’ll take us 6 hours and 40 minutes to travel from Osaka to Tokyo, but the bullet train cut that duration in half into 3 hours and 10 minutes. The Japanese bullet train was a great success as traffic demand increased each year. In 1967, the bullet train serviced 100 million, then 1 billion in 1976, until 23,000 passengers per hour since 1992.

Perhaps the network expansion to the west has something to do with the increasing traffic demand. In 1975, Japanese bullet train expand it’s network to the west, to Okayama, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima. So in order to fulfill the increased traffic demand, JR introduce new railways and new train models throughout the years. So in the present day the Shinkansen has transported more than 10 billion commuters, averaging about 150 million passengers per year. In the future, there will be even more Shinkansen route planned to be built.

Speaking of infrastructure, you might interested in: The Colossal 50 Lanes Chinese Highway: Debunking The Fake Word of Mouth

What Makes the Japanese Bullet Train So Fast?

There are 4 known factors that makes the Japanese bullet train can go so fast. To achieve the speeds of 200km per hour and more, bullet trains needed to be as aerodynamic (to cause as little wind resistance) as possible. Therefore, the bullet trains was designed to have a streamlined body, the front cars of the Shinkansen trains are designed like the nose of an airplane. Next important design is on the wheels, it has to minimize vibration as the train goes high speed, which is done by absorbing the vibration using compressed air springs.

The many models of the Japanese bullet train

Photo is taken from: Japan RailPass
The many models of the Japanese bullet train
Photo is taken from: Japan RailPass

The railway tracks is also an important factor, before the establishment of Shinkansen, Japanese trains ran on narrow-gauge tracks (1,067 millimeters wide). To support the accelerating Japanese bullet train, JR built the wide-gauge railway tracks (1,435 millimeters wide) that were the standard in the rest of the world, it is necessary to move large numbers of people and large volumes of goods. Another thing to remember, there should be no tracks with sharp curves and it should never cross path with other railway lines on the same level.

Train drivers adjust the train’s speed according to the signals they see along the tracks. Since we’re traveling high speed, it would be impossible for the driver to read signals. So to help the drivers, Japanese bullet train is assisted with Automatic Train Control (ATC). Speed information is transmitted along the track and is received by a signal attached to the driver’s seat, keeping the train running within the designated speed limit automatically. Accompanied with Centralized Traffic Control, to make sure there’s enough time and distance between trains.

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