Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Hey folks, welcome back to the channel! This is *the* high speed rail explained you have

  • been waiting for, covering easily the most influential nation in the history of this

  • incredible mode of transportation - Japan. We don't have time to spare so let's get

  • into it.

  • If you're not already, consider supporting the channel on Patreon to help me bring you

  • more content like this video, get direct access to exclusive transit chats, and for behind

  • the scenes content. You should also consider following me on Twitter and Instagram for

  • all the latest updates.

  • Japan has long had an extensive rail network but, given the difficult terrain in the country

  • and that it's railway network is built using narrow gauge, unlike in many other countries

  • - Japan's ventures into high speed rail were built upon the construction of brand

  • new lines dedicated to high speed trains using standard gauge, which is the origin of the

  • wordShinkansenwhich translates tonew trunk line”, electrification of all

  • lines is 25 Kv AC.

  • As discussed in my Chuo Shinkansen Demystified video which will be linked in the top right

  • corner, the implementation of the Shinkansen, which has come to refer to the high speed

  • rail system as well as the lines - was not only spurred by a desire for more speed, but

  • also for more capacity for the critical route between Tokyo and Osaka, the Tokaido mainline.

  • Of course, this was all done in the lead up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, as we often see

  • for transport megaprojects. As mentioned in our French high speed rail video, Japan was

  • certainly an influence for the TGV - but truth be told the Shinkansen has influenced every

  • major high speed rail network in the world, as it was truly the first modern high speed

  • rail system to be built, and in my eyes is probably still the best system per capita

  • in the world.

  • In fact, the system led to the origination of the termbullet trainwhich is used

  • to casually describe high speed rail and which is noted for being inspired by the bullet

  • shape of the 0 series Shinkansen.

  • As mentioned earlier, the first line of Japan's High Speed System to open was the Tokaido

  • Shinkansen, which connected Tokyo with Osaka in 1964.

  • The Tokaido Shinkansen currently has a maximum speed of 180 mph or 290 kph, and is operated

  • by JR Central.

  • The second Shinkansen to open was the Sanyo Shinkansen, which opened in phases in the

  • early 1970's connecting Osaka to Fukuoka. The Sanyo Shinkansen currently has a top speed

  • of 185 mph or 300 kph, and is operated by JR West.

  • In 1982 the first section of the Tohoku Shinkansen opened from Morioka to Omiya north of Tokyo.

  • Later that same year the first portion of the Joetsu Shinkansen opened from Omiya north

  • to Niigata.

  • In 1985 the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen were extended south from Omiya to Ueno Station

  • in Tokyo. This left a small gap between the lines and the Tokaido Shinkansen which extended

  • to Tokyo Station.

  • Six years later in 1991, the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen were finally extended all the way

  • to Tokyo Station to meet with the Tokaido Shinkansen.

  • In 1992 services on the Yamagata Shinkansen began, this line was unique as it was a new

  • Mini-Shinkansen style line (stay tuned as I'll break down what this is later). The

  • line connected Fukushima on the Tohoku Shinkansen with Yamagata.

  • In 1997 the second Mini-Shinkansen, the Akita Shinkansen opened between Morioka on the Tohoku

  • Shinkansen and Akita, the Akita Shinkansen has a top speed of 80 mph or 130 kph and is

  • operated by JR East.

  • In 1997 a new regular Shinkansen line opened connecting Nagano, host city for the 1998

  • Winter Olympics, to Tokyo via the Joetsu Shinkansen which the new line called the Hokuriku Shinkansen

  • meets at Takasaki Station.

  • Just before the turn of the millennia in late 1999 the successful Yamagata Shinkansen was

  • extended north to Shinjo. The Yamagata Shinkansen has a top speed of 80 mph or 130 kph and is

  • operated by JR East.

  • In 2002 the first Shinkansen expansion of the 2000's saw the Tohoku Shinkansen extended

  • from Morioka to Hachinohe.

  • Two years later the first segment of the new Kyushu Shinkansen opened between Kagoshima

  • and Yatsushiro.

  • In 2010 the Tohoku Shinkansen gained its final extension to Aomori. The line has a top speed

  • of 200 mph or 320 kph but it may be upgraded for operations as fast at 225 mph or 360 kph,

  • and is operated by JR East.

  • In 2011 the Kyushu Shinkansen was finally completed all the way to Hakata, this linked

  • the line with the Sanyo Shinkansen. The line has a maximum speed of 160 mph or 260 kph

  • and is operated by JR Kyushu.

  • In 2015, the Hokuriku Shinkansen received its most recent extension from Nagano to Kanazawa.

  • This means the line is operated by JR East to the East of Joetsu and by JR West to the

  • West. The line has a maximum speed of 240 kph or 150 mph, however it is being upgraded

  • to 275 kph or 170 mph, similar to the Tokaido Shinkansen.

  • In 2016 the newest Shinkansen opened in the Hokkaido Shinkansen, the line connects from

  • Aomori on the Tohoku Shinkansen to Hakodate in southern Hokkaido via an undersea tunnel.

  • The line is operated by JR Hokkaido, and has a maximum speed of 260 kph and 160 mph and

  • of 160 kph or 100 mph in said tunnel.

  • Of course, the Shinkansen is still aggressively expanding to improve network connectivity,

  • link major cities, and improve travel times. There are a number of projects currently under

  • construction including:

  • A new route linking Nagasaki to Tosu in Western Kyushu. This route would be islanded upon

  • opening.

  • An extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen southwest to Tsuruga.

  • The Northern extension of the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Sapporo.

  • The Chuo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya.

  • There are also a number of projects which are currently in the official plans involving

  • three of the projects we just talked about, including:

  • Connecting the Western Kyushu Shinkansen to the Kyushu Shinkansen south of Hakata.

  • Extending the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Osaka via. Kyoto.

  • Extending the Chuo Shinkansen to Osaka.

  • Of course, there are also other long range plans for the network, but given Japan's

  • declining population and the relatively long timelines for even the official plans these

  • remain mainly the musings of enthusiasts.

  • As you can see with the current network, the Shinkansen is almost completely linear with

  • one line working its way from Hokkaido all the way to Kyushu with branches connecting

  • to other major cities and destinations.

  • Given Japan's long and slender shape this works fairly well, if Chile ever develops

  • a high Speed Rail network this would be a great model.

  • Interestingly, when all the officially planned expansion happens, the network will suddenly

  • have three routes between Osaka and Tokyo, which will be the biggest change in the network's

  • existence.

  • One of the greatest successes of the Japanese High Speed Rail System is its ridership, despite

  • being fundamentally a linear network the network is incredibly intensely used, especially on

  • trips between Tokyo and Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen which carries nearly twice the

  • passengers of any other line.

  • In total, the entire network now carries almost half a billion passengers every year, comparable

  • to the ridership of many medium sized metro systems. The cumulative ridership, which until

  • recently was the greatest in the world (now surpassed by China) and sits at over 10 billion.

  • Now I get to talk about perhaps my favorite feature of the Shinkansen, the rolling stock.

  • Japan has developed all of its high speed rolling stock indigenously and it is easily

  • the most unique and varied in the world.

  • Unlike France who we talked about in the last video, all of the Shinkansen rolling stock

  • consists of multiple units, meaning there are no locomotives.

  • The trains are up to 400m long and can consist of up to 16 25m cars.

  • Since there are essentially 2 distinct networks that make up the Shinka nsen so I'll talk

  • about the rolling stock in 2 groups. If you've ever wondered why there seem to be multiple

  • variations of modern Shinkansen, this is why.

  • First the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen.

  • The original Shinkansen model was the bullet shaped 0 series introduced in 1964, capable

  • of up to 140 mph or 225 kph.

  • Next came the 100 series which entered service in 1985 and had an even more aggressive bullet

  • shape, and were the first rolling stock to include bilevel carriages as part of the train.

  • The 100 series also had a max speed of roughly 140 mph or 225 kph.

  • Following the 100 series came the 300 series which entered service in 1992 and had a maximum

  • speed of 170 mph or 270 kph. The 300 series is probably my least favorite Shinkansen and

  • was inarguably an aesthetic downgrade.

  • Next up was the 500 series, which for many (myself included) was the pinnacle of Shinkansen

  • design with its needle-like shape. As expected the sets were the fastest yet at up to 185

  • mph or 300 kph when they were introduced in 1997, you probably expected this because these

  • trains just LOOK fast. The series was tighter on the inside than

  • other models due to the tight curved profile, and was very expensive. Only 9 trains were

  • built.

  • Then there was the 700 series, which took the design direction back towards the 300

  • series, however now adding the iconic duckbill like nose. The 700 series was introduced in

  • 1999 and despite that had a slower top speed when compared to the 500 series, at 175 mph

  • or 285 kph.

  • After the 700 series came the 800 series which were introduced in 2004 for operation on the

  • Kyushu Shinkansen. Compared to the 700 series the 800 series had a more streamlined look,

  • but much like the 500 series very few were built. The trains have a maximum speed of

  • 160 mph or 260 kph.

  • Of course, the next model to be rolled out was the iconic N700 series, which took significant

  • design elements from the 700 series, but which had a more aggressive nose. The N700 is the

  • most produced Shinkansen model and was introduced in 2007. Like the 500 series it has a maximum

  • speed of 185 mph or 300 kph.

  • The model's newest variant the N700S or Supreme was introduced in time for the delayed

  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The model aimed to harken back to the Shinkansen's introduction for

  • the LAST Tokyo Olympics, and featured numerous technical improvements over the regular N700

  • model.

  • Second, we have the Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Hokkaido, Akita, and Yamagata Shinkansen rolling

  • stock.

  • The first model of Shinkansen used upon introduction of service on the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen

  • was the 200 series in 1982. This model had a maximum speed of 150 mph or 240 kph and

  • strongly resembles the 100 series. You may notice the small snowplow fitted on this model,

  • due to the possibility of significant snow on these routes.

  • The next model was the E1 Shinkansen which was the first full bilevel Shinkansen as was

  • introduced in 1994. These trains also had a top speed of 150 mph or 240 kph.

  • Following this we have the E2 Shinkansen which has design inspiration from the E1, but is

  • single decker. This model was introduced in 1997 and has a top speed of 170 mph or 275

  • kph.

  • Next up is the E4 series which I actually really like the design of, this model like

  • the E1 is fully double decker but takes more modern design inspiration from the E2 model.

  • The E4 was introduced in 1997 and has a top speed of 150 mph or 240 kph.

  • This model is the highest capacity high speed train model in the world when operating as

  • 16 car trains with capacity for over 1500 passengers.

  • The E5 was the next shinkansen model introduced over 10 years later in 2011, with a very different

  • design and a maximum speed of 200 mph or 230 kph. The E5 has a very aggressive swept back

  • nose, and a new premium class known as Gran Class, which is a step above regular green

  • car service akin to business class, being roughly equivalent to first class on an airline.

  • This premium class features large 3 abreast seats, and better suspension than other cars

  • for a super smooth ride.

  • Following the introduction of the E5 came the E7 and W7 in 2014 and 2015 respectively,

  • whose 160 mph or 260 kph trains were deployed on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The models take

  • inspiration from the E2 Shinkansen, and like the E5 feature Gran Class.

  • The latest mainline Shinkansen model is the H5 series which was introduced on the Hokkaido

  • Shinkansen service in 2016, and which has a maximum speed of 200 mph or 320 kph.

  • The H5 is largely similar to the E5, and as such features Gran class and other design

  • improvements. Notably though, the H5 has a different exterior

  • color scheme with the pink stripe traded for purple.

  • The next class of Shinkansen model's are those used on the Mini-Shinkansen, which operate

  • onto the Tohoku Shinkansen.

  • The original mini Shinkansen model is the 400 series, introduced in 1992 and with a

  • top speed of 150 mph or 240 kph. Although top speeds are notably much slower on the

  • mini Shinkansen portion of the route.

  • Superseding the 400 series is the E3 series which had an improved top speed of 160 mph

  • or 275 kph and was introduced in 1997, this model was more angular in design.

  • The most recent Mini Shinkansen model is the E6, which has the same design language as

  • the E5 and H5 Shinkansen. This model was introduced in 2013 and features

  • the same 200 mph or 320 kph top speed of the E5 and H5 series.

  • E6 sets are often paired with E5 or H5 sets for part of their journey.

  • As you can see broadly, there are a number of elements which make the Shinkansen unique,

  • the first and most notable is the long swept noses, these are to help reduce tunel boom

  • which is the loud sound created by a fast train hitting the portal of a tight single

  • bore tunnel, common in Japan.

  • You'll probably also notice the relatively small isolated windows not unlike an airliner,

  • which exist for much the same reason; windows need to be made very strong to resist the

  • high pressure created entering tunnels at high speed.

  • Finally, there are the skirts which if you watched my MTR video, you may recognize, and

  • exist for much the same reason. Many Shinksansen routes travel on viaducts and through densely

  • populated areas and substantial pushback has developed around noise over time, which has

  • led to such noise mitigating design features.

  • One area where Japan has been notably less successful with its high speed rail is in

  • exporting the technology abroad. To be clear, Japan has exported Shinkansen

  • technology, but not nearly as extensively as a country like Germany.

  • Taiwan High Speed Rail is the first and only system to fully adopt Shinkansen design standards

  • and uses a modified 700 series Shinkansen design for its rolling stock.

  • CRH from China based the design of the CRH2 on the E2 Shinkansen.

  • and various Hitachi rolling stock deployed in the United Kingdom, such as the Class 395

  • and 800 features technology developed originally for the Shinkansen.

  • Japan is also exporting its Shinkansen technology and high speed rail expertise to India for

  • what will likely be the most challenging export project yet, given the number of adaptations

  • needed to suit the climate in India.

  • A 12 station line on India's West Coast is being constructed and the line will use

  • E5 series train sets with maximum speeds in excess of 200 mph or 320 kph.

  • Of course, Japan is also working to export the technology to other countries, and perhaps

  • most notably the United States, Texas Central Railway connecting Houston and Dallas is largely

  • bankrolled by Japan, and will use 8 car N700S Shinkansen with a more spacious interior seating

  • layout for rolling stock.

  • As usual, I want to close out the video with mention of the various unique and notable

  • aspects of the Shinkansen. Given Japan's role in originating high speed rail, and its

  • unique geography Japan has had to develop a number of unique technologies and engineering

  • approaches to build its high speed rail network.

  • The first thing I want to mention are the Mini Shinkansen, you may have been asking

  • yourself, besides the low top speeds, why are they called mini?

  • The Mini Shinkansen were created by regauging narrow gauge lines, to standard gauge so that

  • trains could through operate from the Shinkansen onto the lines.

  • That being said the loading gauge or train profile was not changed which is why you may

  • notice that the Mini Shinkansen profile widens out just below the passenger compartment.

  • While the regular Shinkansen lines do not feature mixed traffic with the national rail

  • network or level crossings both exist on the Mini Shinkansen, which shares dual gauge track

  • with some other services.

  • Japan's high speed rail also has to deal with environmental factors that are not super

  • common in other high speed rail systems. Japan is well known to suffer from frequent strong

  • earthquakes, and so the Shinkansen is directly linked to the country's earthquake early

  • warning system, which detects the P-Waves of an earthquake up to a few minutes before

  • the noticeable and damaging S-Waves. Shinkansen trains automatically slow or come to a stop

  • based on information from this system.