Japan's high-speed railways celebrated their 40th birthday party this week.

The bullet trains - Shinkansen - were introduced as the world's fastest train service in the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Trains on the original Shinkansen route between Tokyo and Osaka along Japan's Pacific coast have carried 4.2 billion passengers and travelled a total of 1billion miles.

The Shinkansen network, partly funded by the Japanese government, has now spread around Japan's main island of Honshu.

Its current maximum speed is 186 miles per hour, compared to the first Shinkansen train's top speed of 130 miles per hour.

Next year, a Shinkansen train will begin operating in Taiwan.

"We will go on by enhancing the Shinkansen's brand image of safety, punctuality, amenity and convenience," said JR Tokai's managing director Takashi Tategami.

"Our service has supported Japan's economic growth in the past 40 years."

Many other countries have now developed high-speed rail routes.

But the oil lobby has fought against making rail more competitive with gas-guzzling cars.

In Florida which has a dubious record on both elections and public transport, Governer Jeb Bash, the US president's brother, is fighting to stop a high-speed rail line being built.

Surpporters of high-speed rail in Florida have their own website at http://www.floridabullettrain.com/