(AFP) – Dec 14, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — The first ever model of Japan's world-famous bullet train Sunday enjoyed its farewell run, its operator said, 44 years after it transformed overland travel.
The first bullet trains -- known as the Shinkansen in Japan -- were rolled out to the world's awe for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as one of the symbolic events to mark the nation's recovery from the ashes of World War II.
The first model, the zero-kei (zero-series), was called the "dream superexpress", and attracted legions of train fanatics around the globe.
As technology progressed, so did the bullet trains, becoming lighter and faster, with the latest N700-series running as fast as 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour.
The zero-series, which runs at 220 kph, was pulled from commercial service in late November before the symbolic last run on Sunday, operator West Japan Railway Co. said.
Another bullet train operator, Central Japan Railway Co., hopes to put magnetically levitated trains into operation by 2025 as a successor to the bullet trains.
The planned maglev line would whisk passengers from Tokyo to central Nagoya at more than 500 kph.
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