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), or colloquially as "Bullet Trains", 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 [1435mm]), 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.


  • 0-Series are the original series trainsets.
  • 100-Series trainsets run the semi-fast services on the Tokaido and Sanyo lines.
  • 200-Series were built for the Joetsu and Tohoku lines.
  • 300-Series run the fast services on the Tokaido/Sanyo lines.
  • 400-Series are the short narrow sets which run on the Yamagata branch line.
  • 500-Series ran on the Sanyo and Tokaido lines, as the Nozomi. They have been down graded since.
  • 700-Series is a current Sanyo/Tokaido line trainset.
  • 800-Series has been built for use on the Kyushu line.
  • E1-Series are the double-deck trainsets which run on the Joetsu and Tohku lines.
  • E2-Series are for use on the Tohoku and Nagano lines.
  • E3-Series have been used on the Yamagata/Akita branch lines.
  • E4-Series is the second generation of double-decker trainsets.
  • E5-Series sets are some of the most up-to-date Shinkansen trainsets.
  • E6-Series are similar to the E-5, but designed for the Akita line (narrow gauge upgrade).
  • N700-Series are used on the Takaido, Sanyo and Kyushu lines. These are also very up-to-date.


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