Ja­pan’s first bul­let trains, 1964.

DestinAsian - - CONTENTS - —Eric Wight

When it be­gan ser­vice 50 years ago last Oc­to­ber, the world’s first high-speed com­mer­cial rail line, Tokaido Shinkansen, rev­o­lu­tion­ized travel on Ja­pan’s most densely pop­u­lated is­land. Two in­au­gu­ral bul­let trains ( dan­gan ressha) made the 515-kilo­me­ter jour­ney be­tween Tokyo to Osaka in just four hours—two hours faster than a regular train. And that was just the start for the Shinkansen. To­day, the net­work stretches some 2,400 kilo­me­ters, from the top of Hon­shu to Kyushu in the south­west. Pic­tured above are pas­sen­gers in a 0- se­ries bul­let train, the first model to run on the Tokaido line start­ing in 1964. An es­ti­mated 10 bil­lion peo­ple have since rid­den Ja­pan’s high-speed rails, and at ever-faster speeds. From the 210 kmh clocked by the 0- se­ries, Shinkansen trains can now reach up to 320 kmh, though even that will seem a snail’s pace once the planned Chuo Shinkansen ma­glev line opens by 2027. Con­nect­ing Tokyo with Nagoya, it’s de­signed to run at a max­i­mum 505 kmh, though with­out the ben­e­fit of scenery: most of the line will be un­der­ground.

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