JNR/JR Shinkansen Series 0

This week I shall write about a a train that played a very special and pivotal role in the world of modern transportation. She was the very first high speed passenger trainset to ever go into commercial service 50 years ago at a whopping 130 mph (210 km/h). There isn't enough that I can write to pay tribute to this ground breaking electric multiple unit. As you can see in the pictures below, the Series 0 is indeed the original bullet train, dubbed the super express of dreams (夢の超特急) in Japan.


The Series 0 is a remarkable technological achievement in railroad equipment engineering. At the time this high speed electric multiple unit was being designed and tested (1950s), most trains in the world were still passenger cars being hauled by locomotives. Every axle on the Series 0 is powered by a traction motor, making it possible for all cars on the consist to weighing approximately the same, essentially creating a perfectly marshaled consist. This design not only increases acceleration, it evenly distributes pulling forces in the drawbar, lateral forces on the rails, and vertical loads on rails and structures (meaning a lot less destructive to infrastructure). Although it adds complexity to train maintenance at the same time, it grants better running performance all around and permits higher speed than locomotive-hauled equipment given the same track conditions.

This music video below is found on YouTube which a tribute music video for the Shinkansen Series 0. It contains some valuable footages from early research and testing of the high speed train.


Lead by the former Japanese National Railways, a consortium of companies have participated in the design and manufacturing of the Series 0. She is also the Shinkansen trainset that has been produced over the longest period (44 years in fact, from 1963 until 1986), with a number of improvements implemented throughout. The top revenue speed of the trainset was eventually increased to 137 mph or 220 km/h in 1986. The Series 0 ran her final trip in 2008 on the West Japan Railway Company's Sanyō Shinkansen line.

This video below documents some of the last runs the Series 0 has ever made. There are lots more videos of this train available on YouTube.


There is still much more I can go on about this original high speed train, but this post will end here. I do encourage all readers to Google more information on this trainset and have a look at the translated Japanese Wikipedia page on this train. Several cab cars of the Series 0 have been preserved in a number of museums in Japan. If that is a little far, the only Series 0 cab car on display outside Japan is on display at the National Railway Museum in beautiful York, England.

One of the very last remaining Series 0, the text on the nose cone says "thank you, Series 0" (or something along the line)

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