The Shinkansen High Speed Rail Network
The Japanese Shinkansen, or "bullet train" was one of the first high-speed train network to be established in 1964 after beginning construction in 1959. Its initial speed was 220 km/hour, reducing travel times between Tokyo and Osaka by about a half, from more than 8 hours to 4 hours. Two trains per hour were leaving Tokyo (60 per day), totaling 61,000 passengers. Through a set of technical improvements, operational speeds are now above 300 km/hour. By 2000, the travel time between Tokyo and Osaka was reduced to 2.5 hours with 285 trains per day (11 per hour) carrying more than 357,000 passengers. The Shinkansen network now links the most important Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (better known as Tokaido). It has been an effective competitor with air transport and the Shinkansen accounts for about 88% of the market share for passengers between Tokyo and Osaka.