Friday, August 06, 2010

New Shink

Am I being obsessive about Japanese trains, especially the Shinkansen? Probably the reason being that I am jealous. Why can't we have such trains in Australia?

We travelled on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hachinohe. You can see the line in red on the right of the map, up the top on the east coast. From there we changed to a limited express train to Aomori and then on to Hirosaki. Aomori is further north of Hachinohe in about the middle of the main island. For the purposes of this, let us just say we are travelling to Aomori only.

The one way fare costs around $220, which is why every foreigner who is going to use the trains buys a Japan Rail Pass for under $380.

We departed at 10.00am from Ueno in Tokyo and arrived at Hachinohe at 1.00pm, so trip time of 3 hours to cover 630km. We changed to the Limited Express at 1.10pm and arrived in Aomori at 2.10pm, just on another 100km. Total time, just over four hours and about 730 km covered.

On December the 4th this year, the Hachinohe (Tohuko) Shinkansen extension will open and run on new track to Aomori, bringing the time down to 3 hours and twenty minutes, a full forty minutes less and without a change of train.

But wait, it gets better. When this beastie below, the E5 Shinkansen, starts running in March 2011, it will cut the time even further. Once it is really let loose in 2013, it will be running at 300km/h or about 190mph. The E5 has a very spacious interior and can carry 731 passengers. Planes and airports, bah. Cars and buses, bah.

Btw, if you think it is too expensive for you, there is the option of the overnight express sleeper train or a road coach.

Later edit: A feasibility study has been proposed for a high speed train in Australia. By the time it is feasibilityised, discussed ad infinitum, planned, postponed and constructed, I'll be too old to ride on it. I have heard too many proposals of high speed trains to Sydney, or even a quick train to our airport.

Here is a vid of the new Shink in action.


  1. I smiled at the vision of the officials measuring the gap between the carriage and the platform. (At least I think that was what they were checking.)

    In Sydney you could slip down the gaps at some stations.

  2. Not obsessive, Andrew, we had a complex but thorough metro and regional rail infrastructure built from the gold boom onwards that's been nibbled and gnawed away at by succeeding govts who are too lazy to plan ahead.
    Boot 'em all out on their backsides, get this Japanese train mob in to sort our system out, it's the only way to get anything constructively achieved!

  3. Victor, while different models of trains have to be allowed for, I don't why such large gaps are needed.

    I just had a silly thought Jayne. Wouldn't it be nice to have a rail system to be proud of. Never happen here of course.

  4. Maybe if some of the billions wasted by Rudd on roof batts, and the like.. or the billions we waste supporting retired!
    But then again Australia is a vast country with a small population whereas Japan is a small country with a massive population - their income tax would be huge in comparison to ours -
    maybe one day we can at least have this between Melbourne and brissie... if ever we get anyone in power who cares about the long term future and not just the next five years.

  5. Anonymous8:58 pm

    Mia loves this "Bullet train", she wants to drive one! haha

  6. Clearly we can't have a network of them T, but with the number of flights between Melb, Syd, Bris, it must be viable.

    Pretty cool looking hey Caz.