Libmonster ID: JP-1229
Author(s) of the publication: I. Yu. AVDAKOV



Candidate of Economic Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: Japan, Shinkansen, railways

Almost half a century behind the leading countries of Europe and the United States, Japanese rail transport has historically not only quickly reached the European level of development of this industry, but already in the 1960s it became one of the world leaders. Japan became the first country in the world to introduce a brand-new Shinkansen train-the result of scientific and technological progress in passenger transportation and technical re-equipment of railways. Japan was followed by the Netherlands, France and a number of other European countries. It took a little less than half a century for the Asian states - China and the Republic of Korea-to also start building high-speed steel trunks1.

In many respects, and most importantly - in the field of research in the field of railway transport, Japan retains a leading position in Asia.

The importance of shinkansen, mini-shinkansen and other high-speed trains for the Japanese economy cannot be overstated. Superexpresses that run regularly with an interval of 10 - 15 minutes. with an average speed of 200 km per hour, they have become a common vehicle for millions of Japanese people.


Japanese rail transport is different from Western Europe or North America. It accounts for a much larger share of passenger traffic than in any other developed country - 21%. In France, this figure is 10%, in the UK and Germany-6%, in the USA-1%2.

In some Asian countries, the share of rail transport in passenger transport exceeds the Japanese level; in China, for example, it is 30%3.

In the course of its evolution, railway transport has had an exceptionally large impact on both the socio-economic life of the country and the cultural life of the Japanese. Railway companies that provide commuter services to the country's largest cities-Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, Kyoto - have created cultural institutions near their transport lines - theaters, art galleries, and sports facilities. They are conducting unprecedented construction of residential neighborhoods and even small towns, large department stores, hotels and restaurants near their terminals. These companies take part in the development of tourism, invade the information business, including cable TV and computer networks. Such a comprehensive impact of railway companies on the cultural life and everyday life of people has never been known in history.4
Japan was one of the first countries to start large-scale privatization of state-owned railways, and the Japanese model of privatization was very successful. After a ten - year decline (1976-1986) in the activities of the state-owned Kokutetsu company, the newly formed 7 large railway companies quickly entered self-sufficiency mode.

The privatization of railways has increased competition in the field of transportation. But the development of Japanese rail transport even after privatization remains under the control of the state, which regulates transportation tariffs, makes recommendations and partially finances new construction on a commercial basis. The flexible combination of state and market levers of regulation of the industry gives noticeable positive results 5.

The world's first high - speed Shinkansen-Tokaido line was built by the Kokutetsu State Corporation and opened in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Its high economic impact stimulated the start of construction of the 572-kilometer Sanya line, which runs from Osaka to Hakata. The maximum speed of trains on this route was 260 km per hour. It passed through many tunnels, including the 18.7-kilometer Sin Kammon Tunnel under the Kammon Strait.

Interest and demand for Shinkansen have increased in many parts of the country. As a result, a Law on the National development of Shinkansen Superfast Lines was passed in 1970. In accordance with the-

page 34

Length of shinkasen lines (km)

Chart. The length of shinkasen lines.

In accordance with this Law, the 497-kilometer Tohoku Line (Tokyo - Morioka - North) was built. Honshu) and the 270-kilometer Joetsu Line, which runs from Omiya Station (30 km north of Tokyo) to Niigata on the coast of the Sea of Japan. In total, by 2000, it was planned to increase the total length of such lines to 7 thousand km, including those already built in Tokaido and Sanya (see diagram).

This milestone could not be reached, as it was discovered that not all planned lines would be profitable; construction of some of them was suspended. Nevertheless, the creation of the Shinkansen network was a revolutionary revolution in Japanese rail transport, which later had a huge impact on the development of rail transport in Europe, and then in Asia. The main credit for this belongs to the management and engineers of Kokutetsu.

The high-speed railway tracks built after Tokaido are different from those of the first high-speed railway. If the rails on the first one were laid mainly on earthen embankments, then the main part of the rails of the Sanya, Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen was laid on viaducts and bridges.

The reason for this difference was that in the 1960s the construction of embankment tracks was more profitable, since the cost of their construction, maintenance and repair was relatively low due to the low cost of labor. In addition, the rails did not wear out as much as they did later, when trains began to move at higher speeds and at shorter intervals. But the main thing is that the designers did not take into account the probability of earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters, which completely destroyed earth mounds, even reinforced with concrete.

Thus, a major earthquake in 1995 in the Kobe region led to the need for widespread replacement of embankments with reinforced concrete frames, which were filled with earth.

Among other things, the mounds, even reinforced with reinforced concrete structures, occupied much larger land areas, which is important in the conditions of Japan. New railway track designs based on the use of so-called geosynthetic reinforced concrete structures * provided reliable drainage systems, which protected them from heavy rains and flooding. A number of major earthquakes that followed fundamental changes in the design of railway tracks of high-speed lines, as well as prolonged rains and other adverse weather events, fully confirmed the correctness and validity of new engineering solutions.

During engineering calculations, the main attention was paid to the ability of structures to withstand earthquakes with maximum magnitudes. If some sections of these roads were filled up, they were replaced with modern ones based on reinforced concrete structures.


An exceptionally severe test in the form of a powerful earthquake had to withstand the Tohoku railway in the spring of 2011. At the same time, a major radiation disaster occurred at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. The first tremor of magnitude over 9 points occurred on March 11. The epicenter was located 200 km from the north-eastern coast of Honshu Island. A 500-km-long water wall hit the island. In some places, the waves reached 30 m in height and penetrated 10 km deep into the island. The wave swept away dozens of kilometers of conventional railways and many stations, destroyed 1.1 thousand poles and power cables, broke 100 bridge supports and other infrastructure facilities. There were human casualties among railway workers and train passengers.

However, the damage caused to the Tohoku Superfast Railway was minimal.

First, the Shinkansen runs mostly at a considerable distance from the coastline, and the strength of the water that has reached the main line has already been significantly weakened.

Secondly, the highway was laid using particularly strong structures. A joint commission of concrete specialists and civil engineers, subsequently established by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, which examined the condition of the railway, noted that "...the level of damage to construction structures was insignificant relative to seismic activity."6
Third, at the very beginning of the tremors, the earthquake pre-warning system clearly worked, warning the management and staff of the Higashi Nihon Ryokaku Tetsudo railway company, which owns the Tohoku Shinkansen, about a terrible natural disaster, which prevented a possible train crash and human casualties among staff and passengers.

* Geosynthetic structures - building elements made with the use of so-called geosynthetic materials (geosynthetics) - cloths, lattices, grids made of chemical fibers, glass fiber, in some cases impregnated with chemical components. Significantly increase the strength of finished structures and allow you to avoid the use of some expensive materials (author's note).

page 35
This company has 97 early warning points for earthquakes scattered throughout Northeastern Japan, including on small islands. If at least one seismograph detects a high magnitude, the power supply is cut off and the train's emergency braking system is activated.

At the beginning of the 2011 earthquake, the Kinkasan Island seismograph was the first to record a strong 9-magnitude tremor. After just 3 seconds. the emergency braking system was activated, and after 1 min. 7 sec. After the first shock, almost all 26 trains traveling on the Tohoku line, including at a speed of 275 km per hour, stopped 7. However, some parts of the Shinkansen later still had to be repaired.

As for the usual highways of Northeastern Japan, most of them had to be restored or built anew. Serious problems arose due to the fact that those infrastructure facilities in the Tohoku region that affected the timing of repair work were damaged: power plants, water pipelines, roads, gas stations, cellular communication stations, etc.Delivery of cement and building materials was difficult.

Social infrastructure was also affected: many civil engineers and track workers lost their homes - in total, about half a million residential buildings were destroyed in the Tohoku region. The tsunami and earthquake swept away about 15 thousand social facilities, including hospitals.

Still, despite the shortage of Higashi Nihon Ryokaku Tetsudo's own supplies, the supply of electricity, fuel, fuel and cement has resumed. The railway companies Tokai Ryokaku Tetsudo and Nishi Ryokaku Tetsudo, which were part of the Kokutetsu State Corporation before the privatization of 1987, came to the rescue. The large private railway companies Keikyu and Nishi-Nippon Railway, which have the same gauge as the Tohoku Shinkansen, also provided assistance in the delivery of fuel and cement.

The powerful earthquakes and tsunamis that hit the country in the 21st century set important new challenges for the management of railways, engineering and construction personnel, and other infrastructure departments of the country's economy. It became obvious that conventional railways should be built with the maximum safety margin, which is close in its technical and economic parameters to high-speed roads. True, this will require huge additional capital investments, but it will undoubtedly contribute to an increase in demand for building materials, a construction boom,and an increase in employment.

The preliminary survey and the initial stage of restoration of the high-speed railway clearly showed serious structural defects in the country's economy: electricity and water supply systems were not reliable enough, and difficulties arose with the delivery of building materials in emergency situations. The company that owns the main line's own supplies of such materials and water were insufficient, and alternative methods of delivering electricity and water were ineffective.

Now Japanese specialists are faced with the task of solving these problems as quickly as possible. Although we note that the dedicated and well-coordinated work of the company's management, its engineers and workers, as well as timely assistance from other privatized companies of the Nihon Tetsudo Group, private railway companies and their branches, prefectural and municipal authorities helped to overcome the difficulties faster than expected.

It also turned out that the strength of a tsunami can be so great that even modern and high-quality structures and means of protecting them may be insufficient. It is necessary to consolidate the efforts of national scientists-physicists, civil engineers, as well as use the creative potential of relevant specialists around the world to develop innovative projects to prevent such devastating consequences of such natural disasters.

Quite a few projects have already been proposed to mitigate the devastating effects of the tsunami. This includes the construction of a powerful system of breakwaters along the entire Pacific coast, the new construction of railways away from the seashore, including on mountain slopes, and the construction of wider viaducts and geosynthetic structures. However, there is still no consolidated opinion of scientists and engineers on ways to solve this problem. And the management of public and private companies is in no hurry to build new highways, carefully choosing the most successful projects.

Natural disasters, which have brought unprecedented destruction to the railways, highways and power plants of Northeastern Japan, have sharply raised the question of the need to accelerate the innovative development of the entire production infrastructure of the country.

* * *

Japan is forced to spend huge financial and material resources on the technical re-equipment of a number of industries that are somehow connected with the new construction and ensuring the reliable operation of its high-speed railways, which thanks to all these efforts were and remain the safest in the world.

1 See, for example: Sazonov S. L. The role of transport in the development of China / / Asia and Africa Today. 2015, N 1. (Sazonov S.L. 2015. Rol transporta v razvitii Kitaya // Aziya i Afrika Segodnya. N 1) (in Russian)

2 Un'yu Keizai Tokei Eran. Ministry of Transport. Tokyo, 2012, p. 92.

3 High-speed railways in China -

4 Razvitie zheleznykh dorogov stran Evrazii i rol ' zheleznodorozhnykh companiy Jap'noi v sozdanii infrastruktury turizma, byta i kul'tury [Development of railways in the Eurasian countries and the role of Japanese railway companies in creating the infrastructure of tourism, everyday life and culture]. Railway Development in Eurasian Countries and Role of Japanese Railway Companies in Creation of Tourism Infrastructure, Living Conditions and Culture // Railway Technology, N 3) (in Russian)

5 Railways of Japan: from Westernization to Globalization, Moscow, 2012, pp. 109-121 (Avdakov I. Yu. 2012. Japanese Railways: From vesternization to globalization. M.) (in Russian)

6 Cit. по: Umehara Jun Resuming Railway Operations after the Earthquake // Japan Echo Web. August-September, 2011. P. 87.

7 Ibid. P. 85.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LJapan LWorld Y G


Sigura KawasakiContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

I. Yu. AVDAKOV, JAPAN'S HIGH-SPEED RAILWAYS // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 29.11.2023. URL: (date of access: 19.07.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - I. Yu. AVDAKOV:

I. Yu. AVDAKOV → other publications, search: Libmonster JapanLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Sigura Kawasaki
Tokyo, Japan
42 views rating
29.11.2023 (232 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
6 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
6 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
7 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
12 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
Yesterday · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

ELIB.JP - Japanese Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: JP LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Digital Library of Japan ® All rights reserved.
2023-2024, ELIB.JP is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Preserving the Japan heritage


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android