The Shinkansen (new trunk line), also known as the "Bullet Train", is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group companies. Starting with the Tokaido Shinkansen (515.4 km) in 1964, the network has expanded to currently consist of 2,387.7 km (1,483.6 mi) of lines with maximum speeds of 240--320 km/h (149--199 mph), 283.5 km (176.2 mi) of Mini-shinkansen lines with a maximum speed of 130 km/h (81 mph), and 10.3 km (6.4 mi) of spur lines with Shinkansen services. The network presently links most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, with construction of a link to the northern island of Hokkaido underway.
The maximum operating speed is 320 km/h (200 mph) (on a 387.5 km section of the Tohoku Shinkansen as of 16 March 2013). Test runs have reached 443 km/h (275 mph) for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record 581 km/h (361 mph) for maglev trainsets in 2003.
Shinkansen literally means new trunk line, referring to the tracks, but the name is widely used inside and outside Japan to refer to the trains as well as the system as a whole. The name Superexpress, initially used for Hikari trains, was retired in 1972 but is still used in English-language announcements and signage.
The Tokaido Shinkansen is the world's busiest high-speed rail line. Carrying 151 million passengers per year (March 2008), it has transported more passengers (over 5 billion, entire network over 10 billion) than any other high speed line in the world. Between Tokyo and Osaka, the two largest metropolises in Japan, up to thirteen trains per hour with sixteen cars each (1,323 seats capacity) run in each direction with a minimum headway of three minutes between trains. Though largely a long-distance transport system, the Shinkansen also serves commuters who travel to work in metropolitan areas from outlying cities. Japan's Shinkansen network had the highest annual passenger ridership (a maximum of 353 Million in 2007) of any High-speed rail network until 2011, when China's high speed rail network surpassed it at 370 million passengers annually.

Japan's main islands of Honshu and Kyushu are served by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country's major cities. Japan's high speed trains (bullet trains) are called shinkansen and are operated by Japan Railways (JR).

Running at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the shinkansen is known for punctuality (most trains depart on time to the second), comfort (relatively silent cars with spacious, always forward facing seats), safety (no fatal accidents in its history) and efficiency. Thanks to the Japan Rail Pass, the shinkansen can also be a very cost effective means of travel.

Shinkansen Network

The shinkansen network consists of multiple lines, among which the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo - Nagoya - Kyoto - Osaka) is the oldest and most popular. All shinkansen lines (except the Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen) run on tracks that are exclusively built for and used by shinkansen trains. Most lines are served by multiple train categories, ranging from the fastest category that stops only at major stations to the slowest category that stops at every station along the way.

Amenities & Services

Signs and announcements inside the trains are multilingual (Japanese and English on all shinkansen lines; plus Korean and Chinese on selected lines) and inform about upcoming stations.

Most shinkansen trains are served by small food carts with a selection of snacks, drinks and boxed meals (bento) which periodically pass along the aisle. Some trains also have vending machines with drinks and pay phones. Wireless internet is available on the newest train sets between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, however, a subscription or 1-day pass has to be purchased before boarding the train.

All shinkansen are equipped with multiple toilets, which are sometimes separated by gender. The toilets are Western style except on some older train sets. Newer train sets are also equipped with spacious toilets for wheel chair users. Outside the toilets are wash corners with sinks and large mirrors.

Film Duration: 48 min