320-kph Hayabusa Bullet Train Matches World Speed Record

Hayabusa bullet trains began running Saturday at a new top speed of 320 kph on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, equalling France’s TGV as the world’s fastest train in operation.

Meanwhile, a new red E6 series bullet train debuted on the Akita Shinkansen Line the same day and part of local train lines in Miyagi Prefecture resumed operation for the first time in two years, providing a sliver of good news for the disaster-hit Tohoku region.

The E5 series Hayabusa, which links Tokyo with Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of Honshu, now reaches speeds of 320 kph between Utsunomiya and Morioka — the capitals of Tochigi and Iwate prefectures.

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Hayabusa bullet train speeding along

The Hayabusa bullet train debuted Saturday on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, thrilling rail fans and people living in northern Japan, following the route’s extension in December to Aomori.

The green and silver train is the first new model deployed by East Japan Railway Co. since December 1997. It can speed along at up to 300 kph and, at 15 meters, has the longest nose of any shinkansen.

It links Tokyo with Shin-Aomori Station in three hours and 10 minutes on its fastest run, 10 minutes less than the older Hayate. JR East says it aims to raise the top speed to 320 kph and shave the time to three hours and five minutes in spring 2013.

The first train departed snow-dusted Shin-Aomori Station at 6:10 a.m. following a ceremony jazzed up by local festival music.

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