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Railway industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japan opened its first railroad in 1872 between Shinbashi in Tokyo and Yokohama. Evers since, the railway industry has radically influenced the course of people’s life and their country. Japanese railway systems, infrastructure, and rolling stock move many million tons of cargo via conventional rail and billions of passengers moreover via rapid transit like metros and monorails, or the widely recognized Shinkansen, one of the longest high-speed railways globally.

A train like a bullet: the Shinkansen

In 1964, the first Shinkansen commenced operations linking within three hours and ten minutes the countries’ two populous regions Kanto and Kansai. Nowadays, the fastest Tokaido Shinkansen merely needs two hours and 21 minutes and runs almost as precise as the clockwork.
The total network has six more lines beside the Tokaido. The latest line opening was the Hokkaido Shinkansen in 2016, although its construction is still in progress until March 2031. The other oncoming additions to the high-speed railway network will be the West Kyushu Route of the Kyushu Shinkansen by March 2023 and an extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen by March 2024.
The suppliers of the respective Shinkansen trains are domestic rolling stock manufacturers - Nippon Sharyo, Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, The Kinki Sharyo, or Japan Transport Engineering Company. Some of their high-speed models also serve on regional express railways. Hence, these lines carry the name Shinkansen although they formally do not count as one with top operating speeds below 200 kilometers per hour.

The landscape of railway operators in Japan

Among the 214 domestic railway operators, the Japan Railways (JR) Group companies originating from the state-owned Japan National Railways (JNR) are the largest. Following a breakup and partial privatization in the 1980s, JNR evolved into six regional JR passenger companies and several other entities, including a railway freight company. Five of the six passenger JR companies operate Shinkansen. While JR East, JR Central, JR West, and JR Kyushu have undergone complete privatization, the shares of JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku are still in possession of an independent administrative agency. Yet, the JR Group is treated as distinct from public operators and private railways, which transport even more passengers. These private railways have a history almost as old as the national railway. The largest include Tokyu Corporation, Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, and Kintetsu Group Holdings, which engage besides in real estate, department stores, and many other services. Private railways have accordingly assumed the role of urban developers.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Railway industry in Japan" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Tokyo Metro

Tokyu Corporation

Railway accidents

Rolling stock maintenance

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Railway industry in Japan".

Railway industry in Japan

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Railway industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japan opened its first railroad in 1872 between Shinbashi in Tokyo and Yokohama. Evers since, the railway industry has radically influenced the course of people’s life and their country. Japanese railway systems, infrastructure, and rolling stock move many million tons of cargo via conventional rail and billions of passengers moreover via rapid transit like metros and monorails, or the widely recognized Shinkansen, one of the longest high-speed railways globally.

A train like a bullet: the Shinkansen

In 1964, the first Shinkansen commenced operations linking within three hours and ten minutes the countries’ two populous regions Kanto and Kansai. Nowadays, the fastest Tokaido Shinkansen merely needs two hours and 21 minutes and runs almost as precise as the clockwork.
The total network has six more lines beside the Tokaido. The latest line opening was the Hokkaido Shinkansen in 2016, although its construction is still in progress until March 2031. The other oncoming additions to the high-speed railway network will be the West Kyushu Route of the Kyushu Shinkansen by March 2023 and an extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen by March 2024.
The suppliers of the respective Shinkansen trains are domestic rolling stock manufacturers - Nippon Sharyo, Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, The Kinki Sharyo, or Japan Transport Engineering Company. Some of their high-speed models also serve on regional express railways. Hence, these lines carry the name Shinkansen although they formally do not count as one with top operating speeds below 200 kilometers per hour.

The landscape of railway operators in Japan

Among the 214 domestic railway operators, the Japan Railways (JR) Group companies originating from the state-owned Japan National Railways (JNR) are the largest. Following a breakup and partial privatization in the 1980s, JNR evolved into six regional JR passenger companies and several other entities, including a railway freight company. Five of the six passenger JR companies operate Shinkansen. While JR East, JR Central, JR West, and JR Kyushu have undergone complete privatization, the shares of JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku are still in possession of an independent administrative agency. Yet, the JR Group is treated as distinct from public operators and private railways, which transport even more passengers. These private railways have a history almost as old as the national railway. The largest include Tokyu Corporation, Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, and Kintetsu Group Holdings, which engage besides in real estate, department stores, and many other services. Private railways have accordingly assumed the role of urban developers.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Railway industry in Japan".

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