The Tokaido Shinkansen, the world's first inter-city, high-speed railway system, began operations on its route of over 500 kilometers between Tokyo and Osaka more than thirty years ago, in 1964. After its establishment, the Tokaido Shinkansen made a major contribution to Japan's rapid post-war economic growth as the country's principal transportation artery. Today (1997), more than two hundred and eighty Shinkansen trains operate between Tokyo and Osaka each day, with eleven departures an hour at peak times, and a daily ridership of more than 360,000 passengers.
The Shinkansen can be summed up as an inter-city passenger transportation system that has been developed by constantly seeking to expand the limits of the special advantages of railways, including safety, reliability, high speed, and large transportation capacity. The success of Japan's Shinkansen has led to the reevaluation of railways round the world, and a number of nations are now operating and planning high-speed railways based on concepts similar to that of the Shinkansen.