Even The Mighty Bullet Train

Tuesday, 27 Jun, 2017

Even the super-reliable “shinkansen” bullet train has a glitch sometimes. Here’s what happened…

We’re fortunate in Japan to have such an uber-reliable train system. It is pretty stress free to use, because you can expect that the trail will indeed mostly arrive as advertised.

Sometimes things go awry, which is to be expected for such a major system that spans the entire nation. Delays and outages can be caused by mechanical failures such as a signal not working, emergencies such as people getting sick (bound to happen, given the millions that ride every day), or “suicides by train”, and even natural causes like a lightning strike.

One thing we don’t hear about very often is deliberate acts that are intended to damage the train system. The JT article, linked below, indicates that the power line somehow got severed. It made me wonder, did someone vandalize it? I hope not. The “shinkansen” bullet train is simply the crown jewel of Japan’s rail system, and the possibility of such an act kind of freaks me out.

Last year there was an incident in which, instead of committing suicide by jumping in front of the train, a guy lit himself on fire inside the train. Unfortunately it was in the shinkansen, which goes about as fast as a plane and is hermetically sealed. Fire in the cabin wasn’t something the rail authorities were thinking about, but, I bet they are now! Currently the shinkansen is super convenient still, in that you can just get a ticket and get on. There is no security screening.

That JR allowed stranded travellers to spend the night in the shinkansen cars triggered a memory. It reminds me of my teens, when I toured around in the summers with drum and bugle corps. Because of that, I can fall asleep anywhere, and I would be down for sleeping in the Shinkansen, too.

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