insights from the ultimate cruising team

Fast Facts for a very fast train: Shinkansen

Fast Facts for a very fast train: Shinkansen

Japan is known for being high tech and this extends to the rail system. When travelling in Japan, a trip on the bullet train (shinkansen) is must-do experience. It’s super quick, super smooth and super-efficient. Today we’ve got some quick facts on the shinkansen:

• Shinkansen have been operating since 1964.

• There have been no fatal accidents involving passengers aboard a shinkansen to date. Pretty impressive considering over 10 billion people have travelled on them!


• The average delay of a shinkansen is about 30 seconds – so don’t be late!

• While test runs have seen the shinkansen reaching 443 km/hr, the maximum speed they usually run at is 240-320km/hr.

• The term “bullet train” was coined in 1939 in the early planning stages due to the shape of the train, as well as the speed.

• Japan was the first country to build dedicated railway lines for high-speed travel.

• Shinkansen travel on separate lines to conventional rail lines (except Mini-shinkansen), meaning they don’t get held up by slower trains or by freight trains.


• Bullet trains passing through tunnels at such high speeds create a sonic boom. The Japanese government have had to install tunnel extenders in many cases to reduce this. The sonic boom is such that there have been restrictions on speeds if any freight trains are anywhere near as it is strong enough to blow them off the rails.

• Maglev trains have been undergoing testing since 1997 and are nearly ready for public usage. These trains can run at speeds of over 500 km/hr. The maglev running from Tokyo to Nagoya is estimated to be working by 2027.


• If you’re travelling in first class, the seats are warmed and you have footrests. Electrical outlets are available in each row throughout the train.

Check out our special package here that includes the Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto. This package includes an 8 night luxury cruise with Ponant, as well as 2 nights pre-cruise in Tokyo and 1 night in Kyoto post cruise. There’s also an air credit in there to go towards your international fares. Click here for details.