Japan’s bullet trains were some of the finest examples of rail technology in the world even before they were built to withstand earthquakes.
Operational since July 1, the newest bullet train connecting Tokyo and Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen line of the Central Japan Railway was designed with both safety and comfort in mind. The N700S, for “Supreme,” has an all-new self-propulsion system that allows the train to run on battery for a limited time in the event of an earthquake or other emergency. The new brakes are faster than ever. The lighter, quieter suspension system helps absorb motion, which promises a smoother ride. And riders can recline their seats farther back than ever.
The N700S is also the fastest bullet train to date. It can reach speeds of up to 360 kilometers per hour, reports CNN, though it will only run up to 285 kilometers per hour with passengers on board. It’s the first new model in over a decade for the Tokaido Shinkansen line, which was established in 1964 just before Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics. The N700S was similarly meant to start running in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics, and the launch went ahead as scheduled after the Olympics were postponed until 2021.
Bullet trains were already impressive without the mood lighting, energy-saving 16-car configuration, and ample power outlets the N700S is introducing. But even by bullet train standards, this new earthquake-safe model is pretty cool.
If you have the opportunity to give it a whirl while traveling between Tokyo and Osaka, try not to get too distracted by the unbelievably smooth transit. You’re gonna wanna take a minute to appreciate just how far rail travel has come.