I have posted a variety of pictures of the Tokaido Shinkansen system from my visits to Japan. Tokyo Station is the end of the line for JR Central. However, it isn’t the only Shinkansen service from this station. JR East Shinkansen services also serve the station. They head north out of the station while JRC heads south. The lines are not connected so this is a terminus for both companies. However, when you look down on the station, you can see both operators. I took these pictures from our office window looking down on the station and you can see a variety of Shinkansen equipment on the JR East Platforms as well as a JRC train passing underneath.
The Tokaido Shinkansen service requires regular inspection of the track to ensure it is up to the high standards required of high speed service. JRC operates an inspection train called Doctor Yellow. It is a highly instrumented version of the current trains. I have seen the current Doctor Yellow when I was at one of JRC’s maintenance facilities. However, the original Doctor Yellow was based on the Series 0 trains. It is now preserved in the SC Maglev museum in Nagoya along with many of the other Shinkansen designs.
The Japanese Shinkansen trains introduced in the 1960s became known around the world as bullet trains. The shape of them was well known, often photographed with Mt Fuji in the background. While other countries developed high speed rail, the Japanese bullet train was often the first one people would associate with the topic. These first trains are known as the Series 0. There have been several iterations of design since. However, the Series 0 is still very recognizable to me and probably others of my generation.
I had seen a Series 0 vehicle once before. I visited the Nippon Sharyo factory is Toyokawa many years ago and they have a cab vehicle on display by the main gate. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a photograph of that then. Seeing an example at the SC Maglev museum was my second opportunity. It was displayed alongside a number of the more recent iterations of the Shinkansen but, judging by the number of people taking photos of it, it still has a strong level of recognition.
One thing that Japan is famous for is their high speed rail network. The Shinkansen has been in service since the 1960s and has expanded to cover far more of the country while also becoming more popular and faster. I was heading from Tokyo to Toyohashi which meant taking a ride on the original line that runs to Osaka. This is the busiest line both from the perspective of passengers and frequency of service. The trains are very modern and comfortable running at speeds of close to 200mph. The speed is not the most interesting thing for me. Plenty of countries have fast trains these days. What is impressive is just how many of them are running.
There are fast and stopping services along the line. My first trip was on one of the stopping services. We would get to a station and stop for several minutes and would have one of two trains blast past us. Then we would be on our way again. One of my colleagues checked out the timetable and noted in one hour that 21 trains passed through Toyohashi. Our return leg was on one of the minimal stopping trains and it made the journey back in about one hour less than our outbound trip. Timing is everything it seems. The volume of trains traveling that fast was something else.
I did manage to get a few pictures of the trains while I was there. These were mainly as they pulled in to our station as we were traveling but I did get to see some of them come through at full speed. They really are motoring. They crest the hill and come into view quite a way off but that doesn’t give you much time. They are upon you in a heartbeat. I was stuck between wanted to get a picture and wanting to have an image that conveyed the speed. Unfortunately, with little time to experiment, I was pushed into making sure I got something.
I did also try to get passing shots of other trains while we were traveling. This was a crap shoot since they appear and disappear very fast. I was aiming to get a blurred nose on the view but, even at a high frame rate, this didn’t work out much. All of that said, here are a few Shinkansen shots.
I also got to see one of the original Series 0 cab cars while visiting the company we were seeing. They built it and have it as part of their collection. I was aiming to get a shot of it the day we left but the schedule got busy so that one will have to be a memory only.