Marking half a century of high-speed rail | International Railway Journal
-- nice editorial by David Briginshaw.
THIS month we celebrate the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen in October 1964, the world's first dedicated high-speed railway. The event was a momentous step forward not just for Japan but much further afield because it was a vivid demonstration to the rest of the world that rail transport had a future at a time when cars and jet aircraft were widely regarded as the way forward.
It is between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan's two biggest urban areas. He concludes:
The railway world owes Japan a great debt of gratitude for placing its faith in rail transport and pioneering high-speed rail. Without this, railway history might have been very different.
It did take a couple decades for the rest of the world to catch up. The first high-speed line built outside of Japan was Italy's Direttissima between Florence and Rome, designed for 250 km/h duty. It was built in 1978, and by then, Japan had built its original high-speed line further southwestward from Osaka to Fu-ku-oka. The next one was France's LGV Sud-Est between Paris and Lyon, opening in 1981 and 1982. Japan went even further, with a line northward from Tokyo to Morioka and northwestward from Tokyo to Niigata.
Was the rest of the world condemned to one-off efforts? France demonstrated otherwise in the early 1990's, with Paris - Tours / LeMans, Paris - Lille - Chunnel, and Lyon - Valence lines. Germany and Spain also completed some high-speed lines about then. In the years to come, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan would continue to expand their networks, and be joined by several other nations: Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. The United States is barely worth mentioning, it must be pointed out. its route with the highest top speed is the Northeast Corridor, and only a little bit of it has a top speed more than about 200 km/h / 125 mph.
There are now several high-speed routes in various stages of planning and construction in several places in the world, including in Japan, where it all started. So the revolution continues.