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Original Bullet Trains Retired


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In 1964 Japan introduced the first high speed train to the modern world with the Shinkansen Series 0 that ran the route between Tokyo and Kyoto. It gained world wide attention and highlighted Japan's industrial and technical achievements since the end of WWII. (this was only 19 years) These trains have caught the imagination of millions of train enthusiasts around the world over the decades.

In the United States and I assume the rest of the western world this train was known as the bullet train. I am not sure if that is because of its speed or the shape of its nose. The nose in fact was modeled after a DC-8 or so the rumor goes as that was considered by the Japanese at the time to be a very aerodynamic shape. The Series 0 trains continued to operate in Japan until they were retired at the end of 2008. There have been many refinements to the Shinkansen trains since those days. The current series is the N700 which entered into service over the last year or so.

I actually have taken a Shinkansen on the Tokyo to Kyoto route, but it was in fact a Series 300 as they stopped running the Series 0 on this route in 1999.

I've attached a Japanese video with English subtitles that describes more about this train. It's rather fascinating in that it includes a sequence from the driver's seat. Notice there are no fancy electronic displays.

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It is a shame that we don't have a system like this in the US. This is truly an alternative to flying, and I would imagine that you wouldn't have to arrive one hour prior to departure to take this train either. If the US should look to anyone on how to create successful nationwide rail, they should look to Japan.

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