JR East Shinkansen lineup at Niigata Depot

A line up of Shinkansen trainsets. From left to right: E-5; E-3; 400; 200; E-4; & E-2 series trainsets.

Shinkansen (meaning "New Super Express" in Japanese), known as "bullet trains" in English due to their overall shape resembling that of a bullet, is Japan's high-speed-rail network, which opened in 1964. The whole network has been purpose-built, to the standard gauge (4 ft 8½ in [1,435 mm]), with an exception being the Yamagata branch line (see History).


The first line to open was the Tokaido line on Honshu. This line stretched between Tokyo and Osaka; about 250 miles (400 km) away. Nagoya and Kyoto are the only stops in-between. Then the Sanyo line running south from Osaka opened. Followed by the Joetsu line from Tokyo to Niigata in the north of Honshu. Then the Tohoku line heading north from Tokyo to Morioka. A branch line was then added to the network built from the Tohoku line to Yamagata. This is the only line that has been upgraded, and regauged to fit into the network.

List of modelsEdit

Full production setsEdit

  • 0 Series are the original series trainsets that ran from 1964 and retired in 2008.
  • 100 Series trainsets ran the semi-fast services on the Tōkaidō and San'yō lines, but were downgraded to slower services and retired in 2012.
  • 200 Series were built for the Jōetsu and Tōhoku lines, but were retired in 2013.
  • 300 Series ran the semi-fast Hikari services on the Tōkaidō/San'yō lines, but were retired in 2012.
  • 400 Series were short narrow sets which ran on the Yamagata Shinkansen, but retired in 2010.
  • 500 Series ran the super fast Nozomi service on the San'yō and Tokaidō lines. They have been downgraded since 2010 due to the introduction of more modern trains.
  • 700 Series is a current San'yō/Tōkaidō line trainset, used on Nozomi and Hikari services.
  • N700 Series are used on the Tōkaidō, San'yō and Kyushu lines. These are also very up-to-date and are mostly used on Nozomi services on the Tōkaidō and San'yō Shinkansen and the Mizuho and Sakura services on the Kyushu Shinkansen.
  • 800 Series have been built for use on the Kyushu Shinkansen.
  • E1 Series sets are the first double-deck trainsets used on the Tōhoku and Jōetsu lines, but have been retired as of 2012.
  • E2 Series are used on the Tōhoku and Hokuriku Shinkansen.
  • E3 Series have been used on the Yamagata/Akita Shinkansen lines.
  • E4 Series is the second generation of double-decker trainsets.
  • E5 Series sets are some of the most up-to-date Shinkansen trainsets.
  • H5 Series sets are the first sets built for JR Hokkaido and are almost identical to the E5-Series sets.
  • E6 Series are similar to the E5-Series, but designed for the Akita Shinkansen instead.
  • E7 and W7 Series sets are jointly developed by JR East and JR West. Both trains are very similar to each other and are built to very similar specifications. The sets are used jointly on Kagayaki and Hakutaka services.
  • L0 Series sets are maglev-type sets to be introduced on the Chuō Shinkansen currently under construction.

Experimental setsEdit

  • The Class 1000 Shinkansen sets were the first prototype sets used for testing before the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened. Both sets were converted to inspection trains once the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened.
  • The Class 951 Shinkansen was used to test technologies for future high-speed trains operating at 250 km/h after the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened.
  • The Class 961 Shinkansen was used to test technologies for future high-speed trains to be used on the Tōhoku and Jōetsu Shinkansen.
  • The Class 962 Shinkansen was the prototype for the 200-Series sets to be used on the Tōhoku and Jōetsu Shinkansen. The set was later converted to become the Class 925 Shinkansen "Doctor Yellow" set S2.
  • "Doctor Yellow" sets are inspection trains that run on Shinkansen Lines. They earned this nickname due to their role of inspecting track and overhead lines and their yellow coloration.
  • The WIN350, STAR21 and 300X were all built by JR West, East and Central respectively for the same purpose; to test technology to be incorporated in future Shinkansen train sets operating at speeds of 350 km/h or higher. All three set numerous speed records throughout their testing, with the 300X setting a national railed vehicle speed record in 1996 that remains unbeaten till this day.
  • The Fastech 360S and Z were a pair of high-speed sets meant to test technology to be incorporated into next-generation Shinkansen rolling stock.
  • The Gauge Change Trains are high-speed EMUs with variable gauge axles which allow them to run between standard gauge (4 ft 8½ in [1,435 mm]) and narrow gauge (3 ft 6 in [1,067 mm]) tracks. The project has been on hiatus since 2014.
  • The ALFA-X is a future experimental Shinkansen set to test technologies of next-generation Shinkansen sets operating at speeds of 360 km/h or higher; it is a spiritual successor of sorts to the Fastech 360 sets.


Active JR West 500700N700W7
JR East E2E3E4E5E6E7
JR Central 700N700
JR Kyushu N700800
JR Hokkaido H5
Withdrawn JR West 0100300
JR East 200400E1
JR Central 0100300
Future JR Central L0
Non-revenue JNR Class 951Class 961Class 962Class 1000
JR West Class 922Class 941WIN350
JR East Class 925E926ALFA-XFastech 360SFastech 360ZSTAR21
JR Central Class 923300X
RTRI FGT-9000GCT01GCT01-200ML100ML500ML500RMLU001MLU002MLU002NMLX01