Photo/IllutrationAt the Railway Museum in Saitama’s Omiya Ward, 1:20 scale models of Shinkansen bullet trains are on display. (Atsushi Mori)

SAITAMA--For young and old alike, a special exhibition tracing the development of the Shinkansen trains is being held at the Railway Museum here.

Along with detailed 1:20 scale models, explanatory panels about increases in the speed of the bullet trains, safety measures and other topics are on display.

The event is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the privatization of the Japanese National Railways, the predecessor of the Japan Railway companies.

It has been more than 50 years since the first 0 Series Shinkansen service began commercial operations in 1964, when the high-speed train referred to as “Dangobana” (dumpling nose) became the world’s first commercial train to operate at speeds of more than 200 kph.

In the special exhibition, visitors can learn about the diverse shapes, designs and other charms of the super express trains, whose various models have been developed with the aim of improving speed, noise reduction and other factors.

Commentaries are provided to explain that the shape of the car nose, which characterizes the Shinkansen, has been well thought out to increase speed while reducing noise.

To show how the E5 Series that runs on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line at a maximum speed of 320 kph was given a sleek “arrow-line” profile, two models of experimental lead cars with different nose shapes are on display to compare their performances.

With its thinly elongated nose, the 500 Series became Japan’s first passenger train to operate at a maximum speed of 300 kph on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line.

Also focusing on the pantograph and other parts surrounding it, the exhibition displays an actual E5 Series train whose pantographs remain in contact with the overhead wires while it runs.

Spectators can also learn trivia about the super express trains. For example, the 500 Series is equipped with newly designed pantographs with serrations inspired by feathers of the owl to reduce noise.

The total distance covered by the Shinkansen network when the JR companies were inaugurated 30 years ago was approximately 1,830 kilometers. Currently, it has expanded to about 3,050 km. The exhibition also offers detailed commentaries on changes in travel time and passenger volumes and other data.

The event runs until April 8. The exhibition is free, but an admission fee for entering the museum is required.

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