Japan's bullet train has a new model that can run even during an earthquake. Here's the history of the country's iconic high-speed railway.

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Shinkansen
The Shinkansen.

AP

The iconic image of majestic bullet train blasting past the snowcapped peaks of Mount Fuji has become a symbol of Japan's growth into an economic and technological juggernaut.

Over the past half-century, the Bullet Train has become inextricably linked with the nation and the people it has served. Since its debut in 1964, the Shinkansen has grown from a single line connecting Tokyo and Osaka to lines linking all parts of the country. These days, the BBC reports that one bullet train leaves Tokyo for Osaka every 3 minutes. 

Earlier this year, the bullet train landed on the news for a totally different reason — ousted Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn reportedly fled Japan using the train, which he snuck on. More recently, the new N700S model started service.

On July 1, the newest model of the Bullet Train, the N700S, started service with the ability to travel safely even during an earthquake.

Here's a history of Japan's bullet train:

Benjamin Zhang wrote an earlier version of this story.

The first bullet train trip left Tokyo for Osaka at 6:00 AM on the morning of October 1, 1964...

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

On its way to Osaka, the train zoomed past Mount Fuji. Four and a half hours later, the Shinkansen arrived at its destination.

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

Today, the newest bullet trains can make the trip in just two and a half hours...

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

Getty/Kyodo News / Contributor

...and the extensive Shinkansen network — operated by Japan Railways — has reached the far corners of the country.

Shinkansen map
Shinkansen map

Central Japan Railway

The Shinkansen's record for reliability and safety is impeccable, and accidents are an extreme rarity.

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

One of the secrets to the Shinkansen's success is its innovative propulsion design.

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

Instead of having a locomotive pull or push the train along engineers placed electric drive motors in each of the train's cars.

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

This allowed for more uniform performance characteristics.

Shinkansen Tokyo
Shinkansen Tokyo

AP

Over the years, the Bullet Train has been popular with celebrities and dignitaries. Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger...

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shinkansen
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (3rd R) and East Japan Railway's Vice President Masaki Ogata (2nd R) stand beside a 'shinkansen', also known as a bullet train, during his tour of Japan's high-speed train operations at Omiya Station in Saitama, north of Tokyo

Reuters

...to the King and Queen of Sweden have hopped on the Shinkansen.

Swedish King Carl XVI. Gustaf and Queen Silvia
Swedish King Carl XVI. Gustaf and Queen Silvia get into a Shinkansen bullet train at Tokyo station.

REUTERS/Masaharu Hatano

German Chancellor Angela Merkel went for a ride.

Angela Merkel Shinkansen
Angela Merkel Shinkansen

AP

Tom Cruise traveled by bullet train during a press tour for the "Mission Impossible" series.

Tom Cruise Shinkansen
Tom Cruise Shinkansen

AP

Naturally, he got mobbed by fans.

Tom Cruise Shinkansen
Tom Cruise Shinkansen

AP

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and daughter Amy rode with the conductor.

Rosalynn Carter Shinkansen
First Lady Rosalynn Carter and daughter Amy take a look at the engineer’s compartment in Japan’s futuristic 120 mile per hour “Bullet” train, Thursday, June 28, 1979

AP

While the late Senator Ted Kennedy...

Senator Ted Kennedy Shinkansen
Senator Ted Kennedy Shinkansen

AP

...and astronaut/former Senator John Glenn chose to ride in the passenger compartment.

John Glenn Shinkansen
John Glenn Shinkansen

AP

The original and most iconic of the bullet trains was the '0 Series.'

Shinkansen 0 Series
Shinkansen 0 Series

Getty/AFP/STR/Contributor

Incredibly, the 0 Series remained in service from 1964 until 2008.

shinkansen 0 series
shinkansen 0 series

Getty/ Kyodo News / Contributor

The cockpit of the original bullet train was simple but effective.

Series 0 Shinkansen
Series 0 Shinkansen

AP

The oldest bullet trains had a top speed of 130 mph...

Shinkansen Museum
Shinkansen Museum

AP

...today's fastest bullet train, called the 'Hayabusa,' has a maximum operating speed of 199 mph.

Hayabusa Shinkansen
The new Hayabusa shinkansen or bullet train departs from Aomori station in Aomori, northern Japan

REUTERS/Kyodo Kyodo

After the 0 Series came the 100 Series in the 1980s.

shinkansen 100 Series
shinkansen 100 Series

Getty/Kyodo News/Contributor

Other highlights include the menacing 300 Series...

Shinkansen 300 series
Shinkansen 300 series

Wikimedia/toshinori baba

...the sleek 400 Series...

400 series shinkansen
400 series shinkansen

Wikimedia/Sui-setz

...the fighter-jet-like 500 Series...

500 Series Shinkansen
500 Series Shinkansen

Getty/Manabu Takahashi/Contributor

...the duck-bill 700 Series...

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

...and the N700 Series.

N700 Shinkansen bullet train
N700 Shinkansen bullet train

Getty/Manabu Takahashi/Contributor

Japanese Shinkansen technology has been a popular export in recent years.

Shinkansen
Shinkansen

AP

Modern high-speed trains in China like this CRH2...

CRH2 China
CRH2 China

Getty/AFP/MARK RALSTON

...and Taiwan's 700T are based on bullet train technology.

Shinkansen 700T Taiwan
Shinkansen 700T Taiwan

AP

On July 1, the new N700S started service. The S stands for "Supreme."

GettyImages 1253776195
N700S.

Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

The new model has many minor upgrades, plus a lithium-ion battery self-propulsion system, which allows it to move during outages if there's an earthquake.

GettyImages 1253776198
GettyImages 1253776198

Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Source: CNN

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