320-kph Hayabusa matches world speed record


Hayabusa bullet trains began running Saturday at a new top speed of 320 kph on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, equalling France’s TGV as the world’s fastest train in operation.

Meanwhile, a new red E6 series bullet train debuted on the Akita Shinkansen Line the same day and part of local train lines in Miyagi Prefecture resumed operation for the first time in two years, providing a sliver of good news for the disaster-hit Tohoku region.

The E5 series Hayabusa, which links Tokyo with Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of Honshu, now reaches speeds of 320 kph between Utsunomiya and Morioka — the capitals of Tochigi and Iwate prefectures.

The Hayabusa’s previous maximum speed — 300 kph — was eclipsed Saturday as operator East Japan Railway Co. revised its service schedules. The bullet trains now cover the 714-km distance between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori stations in two hours and 59 minutes — 11 minutes faster than before.

“I felt the scenery fly by. If more people come and go (to Tohoku) it will help revive the disaster-hit areas,” said Kazuo Saga, a 39-year-old company worker who rode the Hayabusa from Sendai to Tokyo.

The maximum speed of the new E6 series, dubbed Super Komachi, is 300 kph — up from the 275 kph clocked by the E3 series.

Many train enthusiasts took photos as the first Super Komachi departed from Tokyo Station at 6:56 a.m. Saturday.

Also Saturday, operations resumed between Watari and Hamayoshida stations on the Joban Line and between Watanoha and Urashuku stations on the Ishinomaki Line, both of which were badly damaged by the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

  • Chuck

    Tokyo to Aomori is a little further than Los Angeles to San Francisco. California’s “high-speed” train is going to go about half that distance in more than twice the time and the termini won’t be anywhere near Los Angeles nor San Francisco.

    • $32438503

      Faster and cheaper to take a plane to go to SFO, and the planes leave LAX every hour.

  • Steve van Dresser

    I seem to recall that the Maglev train which runs between Shanghai’s airport and the outskirts of the city was moving more than 100 km per hour faster than the new Hayabusa. Is there some reason you are ignoring this Chinese train?

    • It is 350kph not 420kph as what you suggested. It was the fastest at the moment but the Chinese train was lowered to 300kph much later. The 320 kph in this case was what speed it was operated in and since the Chinese train in question is operating in 300kph now, the Japanese train is faster now.

    • Guest

      Since the Wenzhou accident, speed limits were imposed in China of a 300kph maximum. The maglev train can certainly go faster but isn’t permitted to by government safety regulations. So the fastest passenger trains in commercial operation are the TGV and the Hayabusa.

    • $32438503

      The maglev does go faster but isn’t considered a conventional railway train.

    • The Hayabusa will now be the fastest conventional train as chinese trains opperate at 300 kph. This speed limit does not include the Shanghai maglev which runs at several times per day a top speed of 430 kph between city and airport. As mentioned previously the maglev is not considered as a train as it as no rail contact. Therefore the Hayabusa is now the fastest train on regular service.