The Shinkansen network of high-speed railway lines connects most parts of Japan with each other and it’s the most convenient long distance traffic method within Japan.
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 Tōhoku Shinkansen).
To enable high-speed operation, Shinkansen uses advanced technologies compared with conventional rail, and it achieved not only high speed but also a high standard of safety and comfort. Its success has influenced other railways in the world and the importance and advantage of high-speed rail has consequently been revalued.
The first Shinkansen model
The first Shinkansen trains (the 0 series) were built to run on Japan’s new Tōkaidō Shinkansen high-speed line which opened in Japan in 1964. The last remaining train sets were withdrawn in 2008. The original trains were introduced as 12-car sets, with some sets later lengthened to 16 cars. Later, shorter trains of 6 cars and even 4 cars were assembled for lesser duties. Production of 0 series units continued from 1963 until 1986. A large number of former 0 series vehicles are preserved or stored in museums and various other locations around Japan. Outside Japan, the leading vehicle from a 0 series set is preserved at the National Railway Museum in York, UK. It was donated to the museum by JR West in 2001.