Back a long, long time ago, in December 2010, the new Shinkansen line to Aomori prefecture in northern Japan was opened. Shin Aomori station is about as far as you can get in a hurry from Tokyo, but that also means people "up there" are now able to go to meetings and conferences, if they really have to, in the big city. (I'm sure they all mostly prefer to stay up there in Aomori and enjoy the slow life...)
Japan likes fancy commercials and even dramas about things like this. The "CM" as it is called here sometimes contain a certain element of drama, with characters that carry a message of hope, concern, love.
In the case of the Aomori Shinkansen, they have put all of that into a series of 30 second long TV commercials.
The main guy is a young JR employee who gets selected to be transferred to Aomori prefecture - not a great move at first sight. His nick name is simply "Tokyo" and he has a lot to discover. But, the real reason he is here is that the Shinkansen will be forthcoming, thus a new breed of staff will be needed. The old guard, who have kept the stations and the lines open during all kinds of snow storms and whatnot, are proud enough, but it will be the young ones, like Mr. fresh face station worker, played by heart throb Miura Harume (from Nagano prefecture), that can make it happen!
And, if you really want to know, here is a fun behind-the-scenes video that shows how the above commercials were made:
Did I mention love? Mr Tokyo has falled in love, but his gf is going to enter a university in Tokyo. Thanks to the new Shinkansen, they will be OK...?
Back in Sweden, we have the same concept of a "trunk line" 幹線 (kansen) that connects my home town Malmö in the south to the capital city, Stockholm. We never quite made the leap to dedicated tracks. That is the reason Japan's fast "bullet trains" can run on schedule. In most other countries, the cargo trains have right-of-way as goods are considered more important than people. Since 1964, Japan put people first, and thus the success of the Shinkansen. Another feature of course is safety. No accidents in almost 50 years of service.
But, you need something else. To make trains part of the pathos of a country, I wonder if you can just import the technology, and hope that magic will happen. One of the reasons that a series of CMs like the above can move people here, is the hidden messages. You almost missed it, but isn't that old guy in a white uniform a captain of a ship, in another era...? And the way they salute...? The play on strings that move people will have to be different, depending on which country adopts fast and safe trains. Especially when dealing with people, potential passengers, in rural areas. Watching this CM I was wondering how far they would push the hints of the Imperial Navy legacy.
All that of course is a moot point. If you just need to go from A to B, it is either drive, and you will arrive a mess, too tired to make any difference. Planes? Too complicated. At least with great train connections, you can have a nap in a comfortable seat, and a bento meal, and still have time to read all you need to read before that darn meeting...