Fact of the Week
Prefecture: Whole of Japan
Credit to Research Team: Dzarif
Japan Railway System & JR Company
Hello everybody! How are your submissions and presentations going? There is still two weeks till study break. For those who have examinations upcoming, all the best and study hard! For those who don’t, enjoy your extended holiday! Yorokobe, shounen.
This time, I’ll be talking about the train system in Japan, focusing on the JR line. There are many railway systems in Japan. However, the JR Line is the main and only railway system that stretches to almost all of Japan, excluding Okinawa. It is run by the Japan Railways Group (JR Group), made up of 6 commercial companies. It took over the Japanese National Railways (JNR) in 1987, a government-owned company, after the JNR declared bankruptcy and was debt-ridden during the period of an economic downturn. However, after taking over, by implementing new policies and a major overhaul of the old management structure, the train system slowly started to become the main mode of transport in Japan, with more people preferring to ride the train compared to taking the bus or plane.
Currently, the JR train system is the world leader in train services. It is known to have at least 25,000 trains being operated daily, which contributes to a majority of the 7.3 billion train commuters in Japan each year.
There are several kinds of trains, the most popular one being the Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train. The Shinkansen is a high-speed railway system which is used to travel to other areas and prefectures of Japan. It can reach maximum speeds of up to 285km/h to 300km/h during normal operation. However, the trains can reach up to a record 443km/h for Shinkansen on standard tracks and 603km/h for special Maglev tracks and trains. The Maglev train and track system uses the principle of repulsion of like poles in magnets to achieve zero friction between the tracks and the train.
Apart from the JR Line, there are many other private companies that also operate trains, although their routes are generally shorter. In Tokyo, in addition to the JR Line, the Tokyo Metro and the Toei is also frequently used by many commuters. However, while the JR Line operates mostly above ground, the Toei and Tokyo Metro operated underground. Their stations also differ and depending on the destination, one may prefer to take the JR Line over the Toei and Tokyo Metro and vice versa.
P.S: For those planning to go to Japan, especially to Tokyo, here are a few links to quick guides on train passes!
For train pass guide in Tokyo:
For JR Lines and Shinkansen to other prefectures:
If you are going to Japan, I strongly suggest that you buy your train passes first before going there as the price of the tickets and passes will be much more expensive there. Do research which would be best for you!!!