The infographic above shows the historical timeline of the Japanese bullet train and how it evolved over the years. These high-speed rails have been operating over 50 years and boast an impressive record of no fatal accidents.

They make you fall in love with them at first sight. An engineering marvel with long nose cones and hidden wheels look like something from the future. Few years ago, I was working in Japan and one of our clients had their meeting rooms view facing Tokyo Central Shinkansen station. Those meetings were one of my most distractive meetings as the sight of a Shinkansen passing is mesmerizing and it would distract my attention every few minutes (since they are very frequent!). On the right is my picture from 2017 in front of one of these 700 series.

Irfan-Shinkansen

New Shinkansen Launched This Month

Japan’s latest Shinkansen, or the bullet train in English, entered service on 1st July 2020 between two biggest cities in Japan, Tokyo and Osaka. The N700S Shinkansen, with S for ‘Supreme,’ can run up to 362 km/h. Its operating speed is 285km/h. The N700S has adopted the latest technology that enables the train to transport passengers even in the event of a disruption to overhead power, such as in earthquake. As an earthquake-prone country with the mountainous terrain, the development of this technology must have been much-awaited. The N700S could evacuate passengers safely even if it lost its overhead power and stopped in a tunnel or on a bridge.

The First Shinkansen, the First Tokyo Olympics

The Shinkansen project initially started as early as in 1930s in Japan, from which the English name “bullet train” was derived. Disrupted by World War II, the project was nearly forgotten until the end of 1950s when the President of Japan National Railways insisted on the possibility of high-speed rail. Finally, the first Shinkansen began service on 1st October 1964, just in time for the first Tokyo Olympics. The N700S was also going to be launched in time for the second Tokyo Olympics, which was originally scheduled between 24th July 2020 and 9th August 2020.

Different Route, Different Series, Different Names

Currently, the Shinkansen network consists of 2,764.6 km of lines from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. Each line uses different series of Shinkansen and each service is named uniquely: Nozomi, Hikari, Sakura, Hayabusa, Asahi, etc. (Well, crews also wear different uniforms depending on lines, and all look extremely professional!)

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If you like this timeline, it may also be worth checking out the Truck Art History that puts together a historical timeline of traditional form of art in Pakistan called Truck Art.

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