What Shinkansen would be like? Types of train and railway in Japan
When staying in Japan, train is an indispensable transportation method as it runs throughout the country. This article will introduce trains in Japan. Understanding the points will make your travel simple and easy!
Waku WakuPublished on 25 Aug 2020, 12:00
Differences of railways
There are three major types of Japanese railways: JR, private railways and subways.
JR → Originally, it was a national railway ("JR" stands for "Japan Railways"), but it is now privatized.
Private railways → An originally privately operated railway.
Subways → It runs underground in major cities and is operated by the local government.
"JR" is the largest railway company in Japan and runs around most of Japan area. So there is a high chance that you would use it during your stay in Japan.
The operating status of "subway" and "private railway" varies depending on the cities.
Multiple railway lines are operated at one major station in a big city, like Tokyo capital area. You can transfer to a different railway line to reach your destination.
Be careful! The train won't stop at that station.
Each JR, private railways or subway company operates different types of trains. And which station to stop is vary, depending on the type of train. Basically, they are classified according to the speed the train runs.
For example, if you get on the wrong train by a mistake, you may miss your stop where you want to get off.
So, let's see what kind of trains are there in Japan:
- Local: It stops at all stations on the line.
- Rapid: It stops at fewer stations than the local train.
- Express: It stops at less stations than the rapid train. The stations are major stations. In addition to boarding tickets, extra charges may be incurred.
- Limited express: This train runs fastest and stops at the least stations. Obviously, you can arrive at your destination quickly. In most cases, extra charges are incurred in addition to the ticket.
Not all four types of trains run on the same line, but there are various types of lines too. For example, there is a line which only local trains run, or other line which operates 2 different trains, such as, local train and express trains.
Therefore, make sure which stop you want to get off, and whether your train will stop or not before getting in. Check it on the map or ask the staffs.
Shinkansen for long-distance travel
The high-speed "Shinkansen" train is operated by JR, and it is the very convenient option for long-distance travel in Japan.
It is no longer uncommon that Shinkansen runs 300 km/h, the newest Tokaido Shinkansen "N700" reaches 360km/h at max. It is available for you to move from Tokyo to Osaka in two and a half hours, or from Tokyo to Fukuoka within five hours.
What's great about the Shinkansen is its punctuality and stability, those which the result of technical development which has been continuously progressing. It is already said that the ordinary train system of Japanese railways is quite wonderful, but the Shinkansen train is the highest peak.
The Shinkansen is intended for long-distance travel. So unlike the other ordinary trains, drinks and foods are available inside of the train, and you can purchase them. A washstand and a rest space are also installed.
Besides, the cleanliness and the meticulous customer service are also attractive points of the Shinkansen.
Although Japanese trains are very convenient, even local people often make a mistake because of the complication of trains and railways.
There are always station staffs at each station, so if you have any problems, feel free to ask them.
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