Bullet Trains

Bullet trains are capable of travel at 300kph (186mph). They cost less to operate than aircraft and have a lower environmental impact.

Japan invented bullet trains and started acquiring land for their super-fast train in the 1930s, before WWII. In 1959, they broke ground for the first bullet train, or Shinkansen as they’re called in Japan. On Oct. 1, 1964, the first bullet train opened for traffic at 6 AM from Tokyo to Osaka. The train was shown to the world in time for the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo that year.  

By 1975, the Sanyo Shinkansen connected Osaka and Fukuoka. The 611km trip takes about five hours, one-third less than the time required to travel by car assuming no traffic.

Over time, Japan added many lines. Trains featured multi-class service and dining cars.

In 1981, France unveiled the TGV bullet train system and the Inter-City Express opened in Germany in 1991. China has since built countless bullet trains. The most technologically challenging train is the Eurostar, which runs under the English Channel. In 2019, the 50.45 km. (31.4 mi.) remains the longest undersea tunnel in the world. It took six years to complete and cost £4.65 billion (about £12 billion in 2019). The American Society of Civil Engineers label the train and tunnel one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.”

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