Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) was the 50th anniversary on October 1, 2014.
According to news reports, the total running distance of all Shinkansen trains for 50 years is equal to 13.3 times the distance between the earth and the sun. And they carried 5.6 billion passengers.
But, the one thing that’s more important than anything else is no accident death for 50 years.
Shinkansen is very safe.
In addition, though about 120,000 trains are operated for one year, the average delay time is only 36 seconds.
The punctuality of Shinkansen is the number one in the world.
Shinkansen is earthquake-proof
Japan is one of the earthquake countries.
But Shinkansen is earthquake-proof.
When a great earthquake comes, “P-Wave” moves faster than main quake.
Shinkansen train has the P-Wave detection system.
When it detected a P-Wave, it puts on the brake automatically. And by the time main quake reaches some seconds later, the train is slowed down in safety.
In 2004, a great earthquake occured in Niigata area.
A Shinkansen train was running around the earthquake center.
The P-Wave detection system operated and the train slowed down, but some wheels of the train derailed by strong quake.
It was only one of derailment accident. (Of course, no death and no injured)
In response to the accident, some improvements are added on the track to prevent from derailment.
In the result, when the greatest earthquake on record in 2011 occured, all 27 trains in the quake area stopped safely.
Progress of Shinkansen
There was the plan of high-speed railway in the WW2.
Because the railways in Japan were narrow-gauge, there are limitations to the speed of train.
It meant the limitations of transportation power.
After the war, railway transport had already been a declining industry, but excellent engineers in Japan National Railways started the development of high-speed railway in 1958.
Then, they developed the new high-speed train and constructed the new line.
In 1964, the Asia’s first Tokyo Olympic Games were held.
The first day was October 10th. And Shinkansen opened on October 1st, just before the Olympic Games.
Opening of Shinkansen and the Olympic Games were exactly the big events to show new Japanese power to the world.
The highest speed at that time was 210 km/h.
But the world was surprised that a small country in Asia completed such advanced railway with the unique technology.
Inspired by this, some European countries developed high-speed railway.
The next one was TGV of France and was opened in 1981, after 17 years of Shinkansen.
The first route of Shinkansen was between Tokyo and Osaka (The station name is Shin-Osaka).
After that, many route have been constructerd and the total distance is about 2,600 km now.
The maximum travel speed is 320 km/h on Tokoku-Shinkansen.
On the oldest Tokaido-Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, it is 270 km/h because of tight curve.
In March of 2015, the new route between Nagano and Kanazawa will be opened.
Japanese sense about Shinkansen
Japanese people feel Shinkansen as a common express train.
We use it as the train for long-distance tour or business tour.
Some people use it as commuter train.
Especially, on the route between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, 7 or 8 trains are operated per hour.
We can take a train soon when we reach Shinkansen station. That is exactly the sense of commuter train.
In addition, we think there is no wonder that Shinkansen runs punctually.
Therefore, if Shinkansem causes several tens of minutes of delay, that makes national news.
The future of Shinkansen
As I have already said, the route between Nagano and Kanazawa will be opened.
And the route to Hakodate in Hokkaido Island is scheduled to be opened in 2016.
Aside from current Shinkansen, the construction of “Linear Shinkansen” by magnetic levitation train system starts this year.
It runs not on rail but levitating by the power of magnetic energy.
In the world, there is the train running at a speed of 350 km/h.
But that may be the limitation of the speed to run by wheels on rail. If the train runs faster, more difficult technology will be required to provide assurance of safety.
Japan began the development of this new railway system in the 1960s when the current Shinkansen was opened.
In 1990s, the test line for Linear Shinkansen was set up, and experimental runs had been repeated a number of times.
Around 2005, they achieved the practical use of Linear Shinkansen.
The first route is between Tokyo and Nagoya, and the distance is about 280 km.
The maximum speed is 505 km/h and the train covers the distance in only 40 minutes. (It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes by current Shinkansen.)
The route is set up nearly straight. Therefore, over 80% of the route are in the tunnels.
The open will be in 2027, 13 years from now.
When the train will start to run, transportation system in Japan may be changed revolutionarily.