The Tokaido Shinkansen (Japanese: 東海道新幹線, Hepburn: Tōkaidō Shinkansen, lit. 'East Sea Route New Trunk Line') is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen line, opened in 1964 between Tokyo and Shin-Ōsaka. Since 1987 it has been operated by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), prior to that by Japanese National Railways (JNR). It is the oldest high-speed rail system in the world and one of the most heavily used.
A JR West N700 series train passing Maibara Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen, January 2011
|Locale||Tokyo; Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu, Shiga, Kyoto, and Osaka Prefectures|
|Depot(s)||Tokyo, Mishima, Nagoya, Osaka|
|Rolling stock||N700A series|
|Opened||1 October 1964|
|Line length||515.4 km (320.3 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV AC, 60 Hz, overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||285 km/h (175 mph)|
The line was named a joint Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and IEEE Milestone by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2000.
Times shown are fastest timetabled journey from Tokyo.
- Nozomi: limited-stop services, since March 1992
- Hikari: semi-fast services
- Kodama: all-stations shuttle services
There are three types of trains on the line: from fastest to slowest, they are the Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. Many Nozomi and Hikari trains continue onward to the San'yō Shinkansen, going as far as Fukuoka's Hakata Station.
700 series and N700 series train sets operate on the line in any of the three service patterns. The Hikari run from Tokyo to Osaka took four hours in 1964; this was shortened to 3 hours 10 minutes in 1965. With the introduction of high-speed Nozomi service in 1992, the travel time was shortened to 2 hours 30 minutes. The introduction of N700 series trains in 2007 further reduced the Nozomi travel time to 2 hours 25 minutes. As of 14 March 2015[update], after a speed increase to 285 km/h (177 mph), the fastest Nozomi service now takes 2 hours 22 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka.
As of August 2008[update], Hikari services travel from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka in approximately 3 hours, with all-stopping Kodama services making the same run in about 4 hours.
Kodama trains stop at all stations. Nozomi and Hikari trains have varying stopping patterns (some Hikari trains stop at stations marked "▲"). All trains stop at Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Shin-Osaka.
- N700A series 16-car sets, since 1 July 2007 (owned by JR Central and JR West, modified from original N700 series sets)
- N700A series 16-car sets, since 8 February 2013 (owned by JR Central and JR West)
- N700S series 16-car sets, since 1 July 2020 (owned by JR Central) 
The last services operated by 700 series sets took place on 1 March 2020, after which all Tokaido Shinkansen services are scheduled to be operated by N700A series or N700A series sets. N700S series sets were then introduced on Tokaido Shinkansen services from 1 July 2020.
Past rolling stockEdit
- 0 series 12/16-car sets, 1 October 1964 to 18 September 1999 (owned by JR Central and JR West)
- 100 series 16-car sets, 1 October 1985 to September 2003 (owned by JR Central and JR West)
- 300 series 16-car sets, March 1992 to 16 March 2012 (owned by JR Central and JR West)
- 500 series 16-car sets, November 1997 to February 2010 (owned by JR West)
- 700 series 16-car sets, March 1999 to March 2020 (owned by JR Central and JR West)
The predecessor for the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines was originally conceived at the end of the 1930s as a standard-gauge dangan ressha (bullet train) between Tokyo and Shimonoseki, which would taken nine hours to cover the nearly 1,000 kilometer distance between the two cities. This project was planned as the first part of an East Asian rail network serving Japan's overseas territories. The beginning of World War II stalled the project in its early planning stages, although three tunnels were dug that were later used in the Shinkansen route.
By 1955, the original Tokaido line between Tokyo and Osaka was congested. Even after its electrification the next year, the line was still the busiest in Japan's railway network by a long margin, and demand was more than double the current capacity. In 1957, a public forum was organized to discuss “The Possibility of a Three-hour Rail Trip Between Tokyo and Osaka.” After substantial debate, the Japanese National Railways (JNR) decided to build a new standard gauge line alongside the original narrow gauge one to supplement it. The president of JNR at the time, Shinji Sogō, started attempting to persuade politicians to back the project. Realizing the high expenses of the project early on due to the use of new, unfamiliar technologies and the high concentration of tunnels and viaducts, Sogō settled for less government funding than what was needed.
The Diet approved the plan in December 1958, agreeing to fund ¥194.8 billion out of the ¥300 billion required over a five-year construction period. Then-finance minister Eisaku Satō recommended that the rest of the funds should be taken from non-governmental sources so that political changes would not cause funding issues. Construction of the line began on 20 April 1959 under Sogō and chief engineer Hideo Shima. In 1960, Shima and Sogō were sent to the United States to borrow money from the World Bank. Although the original request was for US$200 million, they came back with only $80 million, which was still enough to fund 15% of the project, and could not use the loan for "experimental technology". Severe cost overruns during construction forced both of them to resign. The opening was timed to coincide with the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which had already brought international attention to the country. Originally, the line was called the New Tokaido Line in English. Just like the original railway line, it is named after the Tokaido road that has been used for centuries.
On 1 October 1964, the line was officially opened, with the first train, Hikari 1, traveling from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka with a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). Initially, there were two services: the faster Hikari (also called the Super Express) made the journey between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in four hours, while the slower Kodama (or the limited express) made more stops and took five hours to travel the same route. In November 1965, both services were sped up by an hour to achieve their current times of 3 hours for the Hikari and 4 hours for the Kodama.
In 1988, one year after the privatization of the Japanese National Railways, the new operating company, JR Central, initiated a project to increase operating speeds through infrastructure improvement and a new train design. This resulted in the debut of the 300 Series and the Nozomi, which is still the line's fastest service, on 14 March 1992. At first, it took two and a half hours to traverse the route with a top speed of 270 km/h (170 mph). Speeds have been increased to 285 km/h (177 mph), except for lower limits applying between Tokyo and Shin-Yokohama and in densely populated urban areas around Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka stations.
All Tōkaidō Shinkansen train services to and from Tokyo make mandatory stops at Shinagawa and Shin-Yokohama. (Before March 2008, alternating Nozomi and Hikari services stopped at either or both of these stations.)
A new station, Minami-Biwako, was planned to open in 2012 between Maibara and Kyoto to allow a transfer to the Kusatsu Line. Construction started in May 2006, but in September 2006, the Ōtsu district court ruled that the ¥4.35 billion bond that Rittō city had issued to fund construction was illegal under the local finance law and had to be cancelled. The project was officially cancelled in October 2007.
From 1964 to 2012, the Tokaido Shinkansen line alone carried some 5.3 billion passengers. Ridership increased from 61,000 per day in 1964 to 391,000 per day in 2012. By 2016, the route was carrying 452,000 passengers per day on 365 daily services making it one of the busiest high speed lines in the world.
|Year||1967||1976||2004||Mar 2007||Nov 2010||2012|
|Year||1967||April 1987||April 2007||April 2008||April 2009||April 2010||April 2011||April 2012|
It was announced in June 2010 that a new shinkansen station in Samukawa, Kanagawa Prefecture was under consideration by JR Central. If constructed, the station would open after the new maglev service begins operations.
In December 2013, JR Central president Yoshiomi Yamada announced the operating company's intentions to raise the maximum line speed beyond 270 km/h (170 mph), with a revised timetable to be introduced in spring 2015. In February 2014, JR Central announced that, from spring 2015, the maximum speed would be increased to 285 km/h (177 mph) for services using N700A or modified N700 series trains. Initially, just one service per hour would run at 285 km/h (177 mph), with more services gradually added, as the older 700 series is phased out.
By May 2020, all 700 series train are planned to have been retired from service on the line, completing the transition to 285 km/h operation.
Shizuoka Prefecture has long lobbied JR Central for the construction of a station at Shizuoka Airport, which the line passes directly beneath. The railway has so far refused, citing the close distance to the neighbouring Shin-Fuji and Shizuoka stations. If constructed, travel time from the center of Tokyo to the airport would be comparable to that for Tokyo Narita Airport, enabling it to act as a third hub airport for the capital. As the station would be built underneath an active airport, it is expected to open after the new maglev line.
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