How Japan’s Bullet Trains Changed Travel

Today high-speed trains are comparable to air travel in price and door-to-door speed for shorter journeys. But decades ago locomotives faced fierce competition from air planes and private cars. Then came Japan’s bullet trains.

Then This Happened is a series about the numbers, people, and stories behind decisive moments that changed history.


  1. Why don't we have it in the UK?
    Our trains are like 30 mins late, made of old bits of bus and then charge us an arm and a leg.
    Fuck sake. Sort it out.

  2. In many cases the fast train travel is much more comfortable than flying. Like in Italy, where the 2X shuttle bus to the airport can de more expensive, than the tickets from train station to train station.

  3. Then Elon Musk is planning for a Hyperloop. The US can't even build a a single operational bullet train, let alone plan for an ambitious hyperloop! Good on paper, no chance for execution. ?

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