National Geographic : 1969 Sep
Running a robotized shuttle IN A SWEEPING ELECTRONICS-AGE PANORAMA, lights flicker along a 70-foot panel at a Tokyo control center, revealing the frenetic movements of New Tokaido Line trains. Whirring computers dictate every arrival and departure, diverting locals onto side tracks as expresses blink by. Highly trained controllers guard consoles aglow with countless safety dials and maintain radiotelephone contact with each train's operator (below). Here a motorman eases the throttle forward to accelerate-the only instance in which manual operation proves smoother than automation. In a buffet-car bar (above), passengers sip beer or tea without fear of its sloshing, while a wall speedometer records nearly top speed, 210 kilometers-130 miles-an hour.