Monday, June 27, 2011

Super High-Speed Trains (Japan & France)

Shinkansen "Bullet Trains" of Japan

One of the technological icons of modern Japan - "Bullet Trains" (or Shin-Kansen) are capable of super high-speeds with the usual speed of "just" 300 km/h. With the names like "Light", "Hope" and "Skylark" they swoop around Japanese countryside as an extensive rail network

Looking more like supersonic jets than trains, with cool futuristic, slightly sinister forms, they represent the latest in train design and comfort.

JR 800 is the Latest Machine - Does it go to the Asteroid Belt as well?

"In 1964 the first Shinkansen, the Tokaido Line, opened between Tokyo and Osaka, paralleling the renowned Tokaido Road that had linked Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto in samurai times." Here is somewhat older model:

Experimental WIN 350 train:

JR E3:

JR E4:

"Each line has its own name (Tokaido, Tohoku etc.), and each type of train is identified by a name (Nozomi, Hikari etc.). In the almost 40 years since it opened, the Shinkansen network has carried over 6 billion passengers without a single major accident. The Shinkansen network also boasts very high frequency. For example, at least six trains per hour (not per day!) operate between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka Stations during daytime hours."

JR 300:

"Hikari meaning 'light,' was the original Shinkansen service on the Tokaido/Sanyo Line. Since the introduction of the Nozomi trains, it now serves as the mid-level service making a few more stops, but still traveling very fast. Hikari trains link Tokyo and Osaka in about three hours."

JR 500 variation:

"Meaning 'hope,' the Nozomi trains take only about 2.5 hours between Tokyo and Osaka, and roughly 5 hours from Tokyo all the way to the southern end of the island at Hakata (Fukuoka)". The high-speed rail network of Japan is commercially justified by very high population density of these areas, even though each train can cost up to $40 million US dollars.

Storm Trooper's Special:

Blue trains over blue landscapes:



You probably heard about French beating previous train speed record of 515 km/h with the new TGV-based train V-150 with a supercharged engine and extra-wide wheels. New record is 574.8 km/h. Way to go, France! Next record-beating train will just soar into the air, grow some wings and fly across to England, or even overseas :)


I had an opportunity to take a TGV train from Paris to Cote D'Azur, and can testify how smooth and classy these are.
Some of my shots of the train and from the window:

From Brussels to Paris we took another high-speed line - "Thalys", which was even more comfortable:

Europe has some outstanding transportation design (many Japanese Shinkansen trains were designed in Germany). We saw lots of cool trains; here is one on Munich-Fussen line... at Sargans in Austria:

By the way, Austrian QBB plans the High Speed prototype of its own:

... and the view out of the windows is not bad either:

Oh well, in North America we have our SUVs and interstates - I can consider my Jeep a personal train which stops any time and goes anywhere I like.


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