High-speed rail is a type of rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialized rolling stock and dedicated tracks. The first such system began operations in Japan in 1964 and was widely known as the bullet train. High-speed trains normally operate on standard gauge tracks of continuously welded rail on grade separated right-of-way that incorporates a large turning radius in its design.
Many countries have developed high-speed rail to connect major cities, including China, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea and Spain.
While high-speed rail is usually designed for passenger travel, some high-speed systems also offer freight service. For instance, the French mail service La Poste owns a few special TGV trains for carrying postal freight.
Multiple definitions for high-speed rail are in use worldwide.
The International Union of Railways states that high-speed rail is a set of unique features, not merely a train travelling above a particular speed. Many conventionally hauled trains are able to reach 200 km/h (124 mph) in commercial service but are not considered to be high-speed trains. These include the French SNCF Intercités and German DB IC.
Served by Shinkansen high-speed rail lines, Tokyo Station is the main intercity rail terminal in Tokyo. It is the busiest station in Japan in terms of number of trains per day (over 3,000), and the fifth-busiest in Eastern Japan in terms of passenger throughput. It is also served by many regional commuter lines of Japan Railways, as well as the Tokyo Metro network.