The Shinkansen network

Big in Japan

Always on time.


In Japan, if you travel with the Shinkansen, which is the Japanese equivalent of the German ICE, make sure you arrive at the platform on time because the trains always do. The operator, JR Central, even advertises with the fact that you can set your watch by the Shinkansen. The punctuality legend began with the on-schedule completion of the fi rst stretch of line in time for the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo in 1964. The trains on this Tokaido-Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka are still incredibly punctual to this day, averaging just a 36 second delay – unforeseen events such as typhoons, earthquakes and Godzilla included! In any one day, the total delay time of all Shinkansen trains in operation is less than five minutes.

The main reason for this punctuality is that the fast trains don’t have to share their tracks with freight trains and slower trains, as is the case on most German routes. The lines are also free of level crossings, and in through-stations there is a centre track away from the platform. This means that the Shinkansen never has to slow down. Train drivers whose trains are delayed by more than fifteen seconds have to submit a written explanation.

Passenger boarding and alighting at stations is also precisely organised and designed to prevent delays. The areas where the numbered doors of the train come to a stop are marked on the platform, so passengers can wait at the precise spot on the platform where the carriage with their seat reservation will stop. In Germany, trains often travel backwards, causing a migration of travellers across the platform as they look for their carriage. This doesn’t happen in Japan. The platform markings also sometimes include instructions about how to queue, so that the people getting off the train aren’t obstructed. As a result, lateness simply isn’t an issue with Japanese trains. And travellers who arrive too late don’t have to worry either, because trains leave every 3 to 10 minutes from big cities – so there’s never a long to wait for the next Shinkansen.

Mitsubishi Electric traction transformer and Converter-Inverter support the operation of the Shinkansen network.

Changes No. 7

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