Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shinkansen / Bullet Train.

“Shinkansen” or “Bullet Train” is a high speed intercity train in Japan.  It is “Shinkansen” for the Japanese and for all foreigners it is the “Bullet Train” because of its speed and bullet like shape of the driving car. The first version of Bullet Trains was introduced in Japan in 1964 and they ran at speeds up to 200 Km/hour. Very soon these speeds touched 220 Km/hour and later 300 Km/hour. The longest trains have 16 cars with a total seating capacity of 1300 and the train measures up to a length of 400 Mtrs. I had few pleasant opportunities of travelling by this train between Hiroshima-Nagoya-Hiroshima and Hiroshima-Tokyo-Hiroshima. At the top I have shown a map of the route I have taken. This map gives you an idea of speed of the train, between Tokyo and Hakata it is 1069 Kms. and this distance is covered in 4 hours, 28 minutes. It is just not high speed but also high standard of safety and comfort. Coming to punctuality, the Bullet train is very reliable – the average arrival time is said to be within six seconds of the scheduled time!

The above map shows the eight Bullet Train routes in Japan. On all these routes there is a Bullet train, the fastest Nozomi Shinkansen or the next fastest Hikari Shinkansen every 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. The Bullet Trains run for 18 hours a day and are stopped for maintenance from midnight to 6:00 A.M for maintenance.
The ride on the Bullet Train is more like airplane travel; cost wise, without some of the hassles like travelling long distances to and from airport, reporting well in advance for departure, baggage reclaiming and so on. And with the Bullet Trains you start and end right in the middle of any city. At the bottom are pictures of various models of Bullet Trains.

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