So, Just How Great Are Bullet Trains Anyway? Spoiler: Very.

Let’s play a game. Name a thing that this describes: hard, shiny, powerful, intimidating in length, takes your breath away when you ride it. Thought of something? Okay, now open the back of the book and look at the answer section. There are two acceptable answers: 1. A Japanese shinkansen train. 2. Your idea of a perfect penis. I wrote a lot about cocks here, so today I’m going to write about shinkansen, known more probably by you as bullet trains. They’re an iconic feature of Japan, like sushi, Mt. Fuji, and handjob karaoke.

I wasn’t joking.

The first time you see a shinkansen is a memorable moment. She glides into the station like she’s sliding her hand up your thigh. She’s alluring, she’s seductive, she’s sexy. Her nose is long and aerodynamically sloped. Her body – the passenger carriages – is seemingly endless, gleaming in the sun, ready to take another crowd of people into her. But seriously, the efficiency of passengers getting off and on is remarkable. On the ground are painted areas and directions as to where to stand. Depending on your ticket type, you have a specific carriage and seat and the platform designates you a queuing area. When one queuing area is full, there’s a second. When passengers get off, they filter past queuing passengers without any jostling or wasted time. We British are talented at queuing, but the Japanese turn it into a form of carefully-controlled art, like a paint by numbers painting…of a train station.

If you’re wondering if they use the same efficiency to clean Shinkansen, wonder no more:

To ride her is a joy beyond words. You must experience it for yourself. The seats are comfortable, the leg room sufficient, the carriages are clean, yada yada, but the most notable thing about a shinkansen is its speed. They travel at a maximum speed of 200mph and it feels like that or more. At times your ears pop, in the same way they do when you take-off during a flight. To put it into perspective, the fastest shinkansen takes 140 minutes to make the 320-mile journey between Kyoto and Tokyo. To put that into perspective, it takes longer for a BuzzFeed writer to decide that their next article is going to be “We Know Your Personality Based on Your Taste in Eggs”, than it does to travel several hundred miles at high speed between two major cities.

shinkansen are super fast and nearly 50 billion passengers have been moved from point-A to point-B in their history, so you’d naturally assume that there’s been more than a few derailments and deaths and plenty of delays. Well, you’d be wrong. Very wrong. There have been zero deaths from derailments and collisions and the average delay of a shinkansen is less than one minute. And that data includes natural disasters, and Japan gets a lot of earthquakes and typhoons. So even if you’re on a train in the middle of the almightiest downpour your puny mind can fathom, you’d still be able assume that any delay to your train is going to be shorter than the time it takes to write a snarky tweet. For comparison, the US’s main train operator, Amtrak, only manage to get 72% of their trains to their destination on time. I’ve personally been on an Amtrak train that arrived at its destination four hours late. U.S.A! U.S.A!

shinkansen are an amazing example of how public transport should, and can, work. If you ever find yourself in Japan, and need to get from one city to another, take a shinkansen and enjoy the experience. Then go home and use your own country’s slow, dirty, inefficient, miserable experience of a train system and cry. Bye bye.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nonny mus says:

    Organising a sixtieth for an Aunt in Central Park 2016….lol

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  2. Excellent! I did however spend one journey on a Shinkansen between Kyoto and Himeji…in the smoking car. Which is both dreadful or marvellous depending on where you stand re smoking. The rest of the train was fully booked, shame on me to think I would get an automatic seat with solely my railpass. Thank goodness for speed and air-conditioning!

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  3. skytash says:

    I’ve been on an Amtrak that was 6 hours late. That is in part because Amtrak is a low priority user vs the freight train operators it rents the tracks from whereas I assume Shinkansen owns its tracks and always get priority signalling

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