Japan's latest bullet train emulates airline business class

Japan's latest bullet train emulates airline business class

Japan has rolled out its latest high-tech bullet train, dubbed Hayabusa (はやぶさ) which translates literally as "Peregrine Falcon".

The train operates between Tokyo, Ōmiya, Sendai, Morioka, Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori, three times in each direction daily, with the 675km trip (approximately the distance between Sydney and Melbourne) taking about 3h 10mins at 300km/h. The speed is scheduled to be lifted to 320km/h from 2012.

Japan has the world's largest network of bullet trains across the country, though this route had been closed since 2009.

Photo: Toshinori Baba

Apart from the ultra-high speed of the train, its most extraordinary feature is the "Gran Class" cabin, which emulates the best of business class air travel.

It costs about 16,500 yen ($198) for a one way ticket in Gran Class (fare details here), which provides a leather seat with aircraft-style controls, a reading light, laptop power, a call button for the cabin attendants, and thick woollen carpet underfoot.

Legroom to die for.There's no chance you'll feel squashed aboard Gran Class of the Hayabusa bullet train.The seat wouldn't be out of place on Emirates business class...Each seat in Gran Class has laptop power, though you'll have to bring your own MacBook Pro with the logo on the back of the screen stealthily Photoshopped out.This train even has cabin crew ... or should that be carriage crew?Oh yes, there's wine sold on the train.The seat controls are remarkably comprehensive ... for a train seat!A western-style meal pack in Gran ClassThe Gran Class Japanese lunch.The amenities kit that Gran Class customers get -- better than what's provided in business class on airlines these days!

Japan is also developing a magnetic levitation ("mag-lev") train which achieved a world record speed of 581km/h in 2003 trials, but is still under wraps nearly 10 years later.

High speed trains have been repeatedly rejected as an alternative to air travel in Australia, due to Australian cities' broadly spread geography and a low population density which wouldn't make the huge investment needed viable.

However, in the USA, President Obama has committed US$53 billion to building a high speed rail network to serve 80% of the population within six years.

You can see more details of the Hayabusa bullet train here.


danwarne (danwarne)

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.


22 Oct, 2016 07:44 pm


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