Tokyo, Japan | C.1964

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Japan’s first railway line opened in 1872, plying the tracks between Shinbashi in Tokyo and Yokohama in the Kanagawa Prefecture to the south. A little over a century later, technological advancements lead to the introduction of the Shinkansen, or “bullet train” – a network of high-speed railway lines that can reach top speeds of 320 kilometres-per-hour.

Initially built to connect remote areas of Japan with Tokyo, this rail service has maintained an impeccable track record (pun intended) of punctuality and safety in its five-decade history. In 2016, the average delay from schedule per train was a mere 24 seconds – including delays due to uncontrollable causes such as natural disasters. Contrast this with the New York City subway, where approximately one-fourth of weekday lines have gaps in service.

The Shinkansen has not seen one accident or passenger fatality in its history, despite transporting over 10 billion passengers since its maiden voyage. This rail network has thus earned a reputation as the most efficient passenger rail in the world.

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