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Japan Is Readying a New Bullet Train in Time for the 2020 Olympics

May 26, 2019
3 min read
Japan Is Readying a New Bullet Train in Time for the 2020 Olympics
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Amid preparations for the Tokyo Olympics next year, Japan is about to introduce a new model of its famed shinkansen, the "bullet trains" that pioneered high-speed rail transport in the 1960s. The newest model, the N700s, has reached a record speed of 360 kilometers (224 miles) per hour, the fastest ever achieved by a commercial model of Japan's bullet trains.

According to rail operator JR Central, the N700s is undergoing testing before it enters service in 2020. It is expected to run when in service at 285 kilometers per hour (177 mph), the current top speed possible on the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka.

Passengers can expect to see it in service before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. According to a Japanese rail blog, the new trains will have more comfortable seating and power ports at all seats.

On the outside, the N700S can be distinguished by, among other new features, a sharper nose. The new train's speed record is not the absolute maximum ever reached by a Japanese bullet train; an experimental unit hit 443 kph, or 275 mph, in 1996.

KAWASAKI, JAPAN - JUNE 25: A N700S Shinkansen bullet train test runs between Shinagawa and Shin-Yokohama stations on June 25, 2018 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Manabu Takahashi/Getty Images)
N700S Shinkansen bullet train on a test run in 2018 in Kawasaki, Japan. (Photo by Manabu Takahashi/Getty Images)

According to Bloomberg, JR Central has invested 240 billion yen ($2.2 billion) into the new train. Texas and Taiwan may be the next destinations to experience this model, as JR Central looks to export the bullet trains. (A private company is working on a high-speed train connection between Dallas and Houston, but it's nowhere near certain that it will happen.)

Many countries invest money into venues and transportation for the influx of visitors during the Olympics, and Japan is no different. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics was when Japan debuted its first bullet trains.

Japan is also preparing for the Olympics by adding a new temporary terminal to Narita International Airport (NRT). If you are interested in visiting Japan for the event, check out TPG's breakdown of everything attendees need to know, from purchasing tickets to the event to booking flights and hotels.