The Type N700, a new bullet train jointly developed by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and West Japan Railway Co., made its debut Sunday on the Tokaido Shinkansen and Sanyo Shinkansen lines.
At Shinagawa Station in Tokyo at 6 a.m., top executives of the two railways celebrated the departure of the Hakata, Fukuoka-bound Nozomi No. 99, which was packed with 1,300 passengers despite its early Sunday morning departure.
The Nozomi No. 99 was added to the timetable in line with JR's scheduling changes that took effect Sunday.
Excited train buff Koichi Inoue, a 40-year-old civil servant from Yokohama, said before his departure, "No matter what, I needed to be aboard this very first train. During my ride, I plan to examine how much the car will tilt" on curves.
Also at 6 a.m., a Type N700 bullet train departed for Tokyo from Shin-Osaka Station.
JR officials are touting the Type N700 as the fastest bullet train ever. It will travel between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations in two hours and 25 minutes - five minutes less than before. It will barrel between Tokyo and Hakata in four hours and 50 minutes, saving about 10 minutes.
JR Tokai President Masayuki Matsumoto said at the launch ceremony, "These train cars are no doubt top-end cars, designed with our cutting-edge technologies."
It is the first bullet train revamp in eight years, since the original Type 700 was introduced in 1999.
Effective on Sunday, JR West and JR Tokai are offering eight train services a day using the Type N700 and plan to increase the number to more than 30 by the end of March.
Gallery of images here