The Shinkansen bullet Train is a network of interconnected high-speed railway lines that have interconnected the distant provinces of Japan with its capital Tokyo. Although the actual meaning of the word “Shinkansen” is “new trunk line” or “new mainline”, the high-speed train is popularly known as the Bullet Train. This nickname is used since the 1930s. The nickname became very popular within days because of the bullet-like high speed of Shinkansen. This technologically advanced high-speed rail system has revolutionalized the economy and transportation system of Japan. It has reduced the time and money required to travel from one province to another.
01. Construction of Bullet Train
In the 1950s, most of the Japanese nationals used to believe that the railway was going to be outdated and replaced by air travel and highways just like in the west. But the president of Japanese National Railways had different opinions about the future of railways. He proposed the construction of high-speed Bullet Train. The Japanese government approved his idea in December 1958. The construction of the Shinkansen Bullet Train started in April 1959. Finally, on 1 October 1964, Japan was able to serve its people with the ultra-fast speed of the Bullet Train.
02. Purpose and Impact of The Construction
The main purpose of introducing the bullet train in Japan was to make the distant Japanese regions interconnected with its capital Tokyo so that Japan can see an economic boom. The Bullet Trainsavedmore than 400 million hours because of its high speed. It also contributes more than ¥500 billion yen per year in the Japanese economy. Bullet Train has greatly reduced the dependency on imported fuel.
03. Total Expenses of Shinkansen Bullet Train
In the beginning, the expected cost of the Shinkansen Bullet Trainwasnearly 200 billion yen. The Japanese government collected this huge amount of money by taking loans, issuing bonds. The world bank also helped the project by offering a low-interest loan of US$80 million. But unfortunately, the actual expenses of the project doubled to 400 billion yen causing a budget shortfall. The Shinkansen project is modified and extended regularly to cope up with the most recent advanced modern technology. As a result, the cost of the Bullet Train project keeps increasing. For example, right now, the Shinkansen bullet Train is being extended from Kanazawa to Tsuruga, which will cost more than 3.04 trillion yen.
04. Bullet Train Technology
Shinkansen is packed with advanced Bullet Train Technology. To ensure a high standard of safety and comfort Shinkansen Bullet Train comes with more extensive features compared to other conventional rails. It has an earthquake detection system, which can make the train stop very quickly. It has recently installed the anti-derailment system, which will prevent the high-speed train from the derailment.
The Bullet Train comes with an ATC (Automatic Train Control) system. As a result, it does not need any trackside signals. It also has a Complete Automatic Train Protection system. All train operations are managed by centralized traffic control. All tasks relating to train movement, track, station, and schedule are computerized and managed remotely through the network.
In comparison to a car, the Bullet Train produces 84% less carbon dioxide when traveling from Tokyo to Osaka. As a result, it saves 15,000 tons of CO2 per year.
05. Bullet Train Speed
Shinkansen H5 and E5 have an average speed of 224 mph, making it third in the list of the fastest trains in the world. Currently, the fastest train in the world is Shanghai Maglev with a high speed of 267 mph. The speed of Bullet Train has been reduced because of the sound pollution laws imposed in Japan. The Japanese government has given clear direction about the maximum speed of rails.
06. Highest Annual Passenger Ridership
According to the statistics of 1992, Bullet Train was carrying 23,000 passengers on an average in each direction. As a result, the bullet Train became the busiest high-speed rail line of the world. It had carried over 353 million passengers in 2007. This made the Bullet Train older of the prestigious record of the highest annual passenger ridership of any high-speed rail network until 2011. But later on, the Chinese high-speed railway network broke this record by carrying over 370 million passengers annually. Chinese high-speed railway network carried over 1.7 billion annual passengers in 2017. Bullet Train’s daily passenger traffic rose to 391,000 in 2014.
Apart from having a very fast speed, Japan’s Bullet Train network is very renowned for being on time on each station. According to the report of 2016, an average delay from the schedule per train was 24 seconds. But this slight delay was occurring due to natural disasters. However, the delay from the schedule per train was 18 seconds according to the report of 1997.
08. Zero Passenger Fatality Record
The Bullet Train has carried more than 10 billion passengers over the last 50 years. But there has been zero record of passenger fatalities due to train accidents. However, a few records of injuries have been reported as a result of accidental doors closing. The train authority has employed attendants at train platforms to prevent such accidents.
There have been two incidents of derailments. The first one occurred on 23 October 2004because of an earthquake. Fortunately, all of the 154 passengers were safe. The other one happened on 2 March 2013 because of the heavy snowfalls. Again, there were no passengers causulty.
09. Threats of Bullet Trains
The Shinkansen bullet Train network has been expanding on a daily basis. However, Japan’s population is declining at a very fast pace. As a result, there might be a decline of readership in the future. Although Japan’s tourism business has flourished in recent days, there has been little to no boost in the ridership of the Bullet Train.
The Bullet Train has been related to a few unfortunate incidents like passenger suicide incidents. Few suicidal passengers jumped out of the moving trains. A few others jumped in front of the train to commit suicide. On 30 June 2015, a passenger committed suicide inside the Bullet Train by setting himself on fire. This also killed another passenger and seven other people were severely injured.
The train speed is connected to noise pollution. The more the speed, the more the noise. The sound limit is now less than 70 dB in the Japanese residential areas. As a result, the Bullet Train is failing to use its full capacity.
High frequency of earthquake and heavy snow in Japan has also become a matter of great headache for the Shinkansen Bullet Train network.