SAFETY - There has never been a death on the bullet train system since it's inception in 1964, other than that caused by deliberate passenger misadventure.
SPEED - Holds the current world records for the fastest average speed between two station stops - 261.8km/h between Hiroshima and Kokura (192.0km in 44 mins), and the fastest average speed between starting and terminating stations - 242.5km/h between Shin-Osaka and Hakata (553.7km in 2hrs 17mins). These records are from the 500 series "Nozomi" trains running at a maximum speed of 300km/h between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, which commenced in March 1997. A magnetic levitation test vehicle has also clocked the fastest manned run at 531 km/h.
PUNCTUALITY - Most trains arrive at their destination (after several hours) to within the SECOND! In one year, the total time that ALL bullets trains were late by was 12 seconds!
'100' Series The second generation bullet train, built from 1984 to 1991, when speeds where increased to 230km/h.
'300' Series bullet train, built in 1990 to replace older '0' sets on the Hikari service and introduced the 270kmh 'Nozomi' service.
'500' Series bullet train, introduced by West Japan Railways in March 1997, and running at 300kmh!
'700' Series bullet train, introduced by Central Japan Railways in 1999. West Japan also run an 8 car version in a different colour scheme called the 'Hikari Railstar', between Hakata and Osaka.
'200-2000' Series was an updated version built in 1987, with cab design similar to the '100' series.
'400' Series bullet train, coupled to a '200' Series, run by East Japan Railways to Yamagata (400) and Morioka (200).
'E1 MAX' Series (Multi Amenity Express) run by East Japan Railways from 1994 as the first full double-deck train to relieve commuter overcrowding.
'E2' Series, introduced by East Japan Railways for the route to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.
'E3' Series, used on the new Akita to line from 1997. Like the 400 series, this is a mini-shinkansen running on converted existing lines. E3's is a different colour scheme are also used on the Yamagata line.
'E4 MAX' Series, started running in 1998 as an 8 car set that can be run in pairs on the Tohoku line.
Photos courtesy Tomix, JRE, JRW or Dave Fossett