Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 64 (Front Cover)


Tokaido Shinkansen Results

The 2012 statistics for the Shinkansen are. Daily number of passengers: 410,000; Annual number of passengers: 150 million; Daily transportation capacity between Tokyo and Osaka: 320,000 (compared to 30,000 for airlines); Average delay per train: 30 seconds; Energy consumption per seat: About 12% of airlines; CO2 emissions per seat: About 8% of airlines; Passenger fatalities or injuries: Zero. These statistics are objective facts providing just a small glimpse of the ability and might of the Tokaido Shinkansen over the 50 years since it began operation. Renowned architect Kisho Kurokawa once said, ‘It is truly wonderful that the shinkansen was built, but what is even more wonderful is that it continues to operate safely and accurately every single day.’ As Shuichiro Yamanouchi explained in his book Why do Rail Accidents Happen?, it is no exaggeration to say that the history of railways has been a series of failures and measures to overcome such failures. Although there may also be failures on the Tokaido Shinkansen, a series of thoroughly implemented fail-safes continue to be followed to ensure that there are no passenger fatalities or injuries, even in the event of a failure. This system has continued for 50 years and its robustness and integrity are firmly maintained. Shinji Sogo and Hideo Shima may have been the fathers of the shinkansen, but many other people have been involved in the shinkansen’s development and construction, seeking not merely to focus on high-speed technologies, but also filled with a strong human resolve to ensure their railway will never cause any fatalities or injuries. The above results are a testimony to this deep-seated resolve. We seek to take on and continue their philosophy with similar determination.


K. Aoki