PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe recently laid the foundation stone of the Ahmadabad-Mumbai bullet train project. The project, the first of its kind in high-speed trains of Japan. The Shinkansen has become the symbol of the power of the Japanese economy and its swift revival following the devastating Second World War.
Unveiled only nine days before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the first Shinkansen line connected Tokyo and Osaka, reducing the travel time between the two cities by 3 hours.
The first Shinkansen trains ran at speeds of up to 210 km/h while today they run at over 300 km/h with a world record of 603 km/h set in April 2015 by Japan’s maglev train. The network’s length was 515.4 km in 1964; today, it is 2,763.6 km and continues to expand.
The original Tokyo-Osaka line holds the destination of being the world’s busiest high-speed rail line, with 151 million passengers per year. At peak times, the line carries up to 13 trains per hour in each direction with sixteen cars each the highest frequency in the world.
Railways using Shinkansen technology are not limited to those in Japan. Taiwan, China, and the UK already have similar bullet trains. Similar technology is under contract or has been proposed in the USA, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, and now, India.
The Shinkansen bullet trains personify the Japanese spirit of innovation and perfection how their introduction in India will play out remains to be seen.