Japanese Society and Culture


High-speed railway network, Shinkansen, parallel conventional railway, projected Shinkansen, hybrid Shinkansen

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Japan’s nationwide railway network is narrow gauge (1067 mm). By contrast, the high-speed railway, which started service in 1964, is standard gauge (1435 mm). Narrow-gauge railway lines, or “conventional lines,” and standard-gauge high-speed railway lines, or “Shinkansen,” are independent of each other and do not connect directly or mix. However, as railway technology has advanced and the Japanese government has expanded the high-speed railway network throughout Japan, limited sections of the Shinkansen and conventional lines now operate interconnectedly. Deteriorating market share and labor-management relations led to the Japanese National Railways (J.N.R.), which had operated Japan’s high-speed railway system, being declared bankrupt in 1987. The JR Passenger Company, which took over J.N.R.’s railroad business, also took over the management of the high-speed railways. The Japanese government established clear rules for the expansion plan of the high-speed railway network after reforming the J.N.R. Therefore, this study briefly introduces Japan’s high-speed railway network, starting with the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, the first to open, and explains measures taken for the JR conventional lines that run parallel to the high-speed railways.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.