KYUSHU SHINKANSEN LINE
High-Speed Service Starts on Yatsushiro-Kagoshima Section (April 5, 2004)
A section of the Kyushu Shinkansen railway line linking Shin-Yatsushiro
Station (in the city of Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture) and Kagoshima-Chuo Station
(in the city of Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture), a distance of about 127 kilometers
(74.6 miles), opened on March 13, with the Tsubame bullet train providing the
high-speed service. As a result, the rail journey from Hakata (Fukuoka) in the
north of Kyushu to Kagoshima-Chuo in the south using this Shinkansen section takes
just 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is 1 hour and 40 minutes quicker than by conventional
service. Eventually the Shinkansen line will stretch all the way from Fukuoka
to Kagoshima. Local people in Kyushu hope that bringing the northern and southern
parts of the island closer together will have an economic effect, stimulate the
tourist industry (Kyushu's attractions include many hot springs), and boost the
sale of local specialties, such as distilled liquor.
|The Tsubame Shinkansen (KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY)
Kagoshima Gets Closer
Work on the Shin-Yatsushiro - Kagoshima-Chuo section of the Kyushu Shinkansen
commenced in 1991, and total construction costs amounted to ¥640 billion ($5.8
billion at ¥110 to the dollar). The Tsubame, which operates on this section,
has a maximum speed of 260 kilometers per hour (161.6 mph) and takes just 35 minutes
to cover the distance, compared with 2 hours and 10 minutes by conventional special
express. The section runs through extremely undulating topography, with the gap
between the highest and lowest points amounting to about 200 meters (656 feet).
In order for the Shinkansen train to run smoothly over such terrain, each of the
six coupled carriages carries a motor and various other high-tech apparatus, including
a device to ease horizontal shaking.
|Inside the Tsubame (KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY)
The second half of the Kyushu Shinkansen route, linking Hakata
and Shin-Yatsushiro over a distance of about 130 kilometers (80.8 miles), is currently
under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2012. When the whole line
is open, the journey from Hakata to Kagoshima-Chuo will take just 1 hour and 20
minutes. Until the opening of the whole line, there will be a shuttle train service
operating on the Hakata - Shin-Yatsushiro section that links up with the Tsubame
for the rest of the journey to Kagoshima. For the convenience of passengers, these
services use the same platform at Shin-Yatsushiro. The single reserved-seat fare
for the journey between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo using the new Shinkansen section
is ¥9,420 ($85.60), ¥1,150 ($10.50) more than the conventional special
The Tsubame carriages have a simple exterior design of white with red stripes.
In contrast, the interior is Japanese style. The passenger seats are covered in
traditional Nishijin brocade, the armrests are made of wood, the windows have
cherry-wood blinds to shut out the sunlight, and the lavatories are located behind
The Kyushu Shinkansen is proving to be extremely popular. According to Kyushu
Railway Co., or JR Kyushu, the 270 reserved seats for the first Tsubame to leave
Kagoshima-Chuo at 06:00 on the opening day were completely sold out in just three
seconds after they went on sale from 10:00 a month before that date. Within a
couple of hours, 80% of the reserved-seat tickets for all 64 journeys up and down
the route on that day had been sold.
Related Web Sites
Tsubame bullet train (site is Japanese only)
Nishijin in Japan Atlas
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
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