On 03.12.3 10:> Message: 10
> Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 07:28:12 -0800
> From: Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...>
> Subject: HSR
> Was recently on the bullet trains in Japan. 2000-passenger loads
> leaving every twenty minutes from downtowns everywhere, the station a
> short subway or taxi ride from anywhere in any town (think twenty
> minutes max), three levels of service (pay a little more for fewer
> stops). And they turn a profit!
Actually, that's every twenty minutes during the off-hours. During peak
hours the trains run every *five minutes*--and that's just the bullet
On my trip three years ago, I was planning to take the train from Tokyo to
visit some friends in Kamakura (home of the emblematic Great Buddha), which
is perhaps 40 miles south. I phoned my friends to make arrangements and said
that I would have to find out when the trains left.
"Don't bother," my friend said. "The trains run every 12 minutes. Just give
us a half-hour window of when you plan to leave Tokyo Station, and we'll be
there to meet you."
On that same trip, I road a country train that literally served as a school
bus for junior and senior high school students who lived in villages that
were too small to support a secondary school.
Japan truly is transit heaven. On my last trip (spring 2002), I found a
whole new railroad line running into Tokyo Station that had not been there
before, and the subways are constantly under construction. They also have a
second Shinkansen bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka on the drawing board
(it would pass through different cities), because the existing one is
Despite their huge auto industry and some regrettable trends in the
direction of car-oriented development in suburban areas, Japanese will be as
ready as anyone in the world when the oil runs out.