Japan has rolled out its latest high-tech bullet train, dubbed Hayabusa (ã¯ã‚„ã¶ã•) which translates literally as "Peregrine Falcon".
The train operates between Tokyo, ÅŒmiya, 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.
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.
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.