The iconic image of majestic bullet train blasting past the snowcapped peaks of Mount Fuji has become a symbol of Japan’s growth into an economic and technological juggernaut. This month, the blue-and-white liveried Shinkansen Bullet Train that stars in the photo above is officially 50 years old.
Over the past half century, the Bullet Train has become inextricably linked with the nation and the people it has served so diligently. Since its debut in 1964, the Shinkansen has grown from a single line connecting Tokyo and Osaka to lines linking all parts of the country. These days, the BBC reports that one bullet train leaves Tokyo for Osaka every 3 minutes.
When the Shinkansen first appeared, it was unlike anything people had seen before. So they simply referred to it by the shape of its design.
The Shinkansen's record for reliability and safety is impeccable. There have been no fatal accidents in the network's 5 decades of service.
There's even a dining car. However, as the trains get faster and trip times grow shorter, there is concern the days of the Shinkansen dining cars may be numbered, as the there may not be enough time for an onboard meal.
As the Bullet Train celebrates its 50th birthday, where will train technology go in the next 50 years?
One possibility is this -- magnetic levitation. A train that rides on an invisible force field of magnets may sound farfetched to many. Then again -- to people 50 years ago -- so did a high-speed electric train shaped like a bullet!
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