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  1. #1
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimR's Avatar
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    Default An Ode to the Shinkansen

    Ahhhhh...the bullet train. I'm not exactly a train geek, but there is something about these trains that I love. Or rather, I love EVERYTHING about these trains (except the ticket price).


    (picture copyright JR Group)
    Fast, safe, efficient, and generally cool.

    I love the little songs they play before they announce the stations, to wake up the sleeping salarymen...


    I love the cute ladies selling overpriced lunches and reasonable beer...


    I love the fact that it's so freaking safe:
    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    Safety record

    During the Shinkansen's 45-year, nearly 7 billion-passenger history, there have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions, despite frequent earthquakes and typhoons. Injuries and a single fatality have been caused by doors closing on passengers or their belongings; attendants are employed at platforms to prevent such mishaps. There have, however, been suicides by passengers jumping both from and in front of moving trains.
    The only derailment of a Shinkansen train in passenger service occurred during the Chūetsu Earthquake on 23 October 2004. Eight of ten cars of the Toki No. 325 train on the Jōetsu Shinkansen derailed near Nagaoka Station in Nagaoka, Niigata. There were no casualties among the 154 passengers.[7] In the event of an earthquake, an earthquake detection system can bring the train to a stop very quickly. Experimental Fastech 360 trains have ear-like air resistance braking flaps to assist emergency stops at high speeds. A new anti-derailment device was installed after detailed analysis of the derailment.
    45 years, ONE derailment, caused by a huge freaking earthquake.

    I love the fact that, in my 6 years and probably 50 trips (counting changes and return trips) on the Shinkansen, not ONCE has the Shinkansen been late. In fact, here's how reliable these trains are...

    In every train station (not only Shinkansen) in Japan, there are lines and arrows telling passengers where to line up, and exactly where the doors will open when the train stops. The space is about 1 meter wide...the width of the door. There's maybe 4cm buffer. In all of my train trips in Japan, NEVER has a train stopped anywhere but where it was supposed to. The doors opened exactly where they should, when they should, every time.

    Ahhhhh...makes me want to take a trip.

  2. #2
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    I have not yet had the opportunity to travel by shinkasen, but I have been remarkably impressed by the everyday train system in Japan as well. Most everything you say about on-time, arrrows for where to wait for the doorways, etc, etc. If the schedule says the train will be there at 4:13, it will be there at 4:13.

    Here in Boston, the subway is random. A train could come by at any time, you may wait 1 minute, you may wait 20 minutes. Two trains may come one directly after the other.....a complete mess.

  3. #3
    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Back in the 70s when I was in Japan in the Navy I used to travel by train all over the place. Boy did I have a ball.
    Every day without fail one should consider himself as dead-Tsunetomo

  4. #4
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    Arrow

    I reckon the ticket price pays for the advanced technology and efficiency. That's really impressive. Never doubt the quality and performance of Japanese technology.

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    Member ZethLent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    In every train station (not only Shinkansen) in Japan, there are lines and arrows telling passengers where to line up, and exactly where the doors will open when the train stops. The space is about 1 meter wide...the width of the door. There's maybe 4cm buffer. In all of my train trips in Japan, NEVER has a train stopped anywhere but where it was supposed to. The doors opened exactly where they should, when they should, every time.

    I tell you what though, when a train misses the "line-up" area by 20 or more cm, I often find myself thinking "What is with this crappy train driver? He can't even stop where he is supposed to!"

    Than I recall the bus and train service in the city where I grew up and went to school.
    Last edited by ZethLent; 01-13-2010 at 07:08 AM.
    笑う門に福来たる。

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    Senior Member Frankenstein's Avatar
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    I love the Shinkansen too. But the prices are ridiculous. You can actually have a three day holiday overseas with accommodation and return flights for the price it costs to go about about 400 or 500 miles on the Shinkansen.

    Anyway, here are some shots from my last trip:
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    I love the smell of shaving cream in the morning!

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    Senior Member Frankenstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigspendur View Post
    Back in the 70s when I was in Japan in the Navy I used to travel by train all over the place. Boy did I have a ball.
    Local trains are also great - but it's 'Jumper' season now and nearly every day some poor, depressed sap decides to throw themselves in front of the train which causes the whole system to breakdown. Literally thousands of people queued up at the big stations - no idea when things will return to normal. I would encourage JR et al to run a 'suicide express' at midnight for the benefit of these people.
    I love the smell of shaving cream in the morning!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Frankenstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiRed8 View Post
    Never doubt the quality and performance of Japanese technology.
    I see you're forgetting the old office tea/coffee machines.
    I love the smell of shaving cream in the morning!

  9. #9
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankenstein View Post
    I love the Shinkansen too. But the prices are ridiculous. You can actually have a three day holiday overseas with accommodation and return flights for the price it costs to go about about 400 or 500 miles on the Shinkansen.

    Anyway, here are some shots from my last trip:
    This is true...yes. BUUUUUT, not once have I ever thought "Where does that money GO?" after riding the Shinkansen. Because you can see why it's so expensive-riding the Nozomi is like getting onto the enterprise! The doors even sound the same! Not to mention, it's way more comfortable than flying coach on any airliner I've seen.

    I do wish it was cheaper so I could take it more, but then again, not at the expense of losing service.

    I bet, though, with the recent toll reductions, we might see a wee bit of a price change.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankenstein View Post
    Local trains are also great - but it's 'Jumper' season now and nearly every day some poor, depressed sap decides to throw themselves in front of the train which causes the whole system to breakdown. Literally thousands of people queued up at the big stations - no idea when things will return to normal. I would encourage JR et al to run a 'suicide express' at midnight for the benefit of these people.

    Thousands lined up to jump in front of the train?????

    What ever happened to good ol' seppaku?

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