The 500 Series Shinkansen are the fastest, most powerful and most expensive trainsets yet to run on Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail network. They are designed to be capable of 320 km/h (200 mph) although they currently operate at a maximum of 300 km/h (186 mph) in service. The first set was delivered for testing in 1995, entering passenger service in March 1997. The entire fleet of nine sets was delivered by 1998. They are normally used only on the premium Nozomi services, but are also used on Hikari Rail Star services during the busy holiday periods.
West Japan Railway Company (西日本旅客鉄道株式会社, Nishi-Nihon Ryokaku Tetsudō Kabushiki-gaisha) , also referred to as JR West (JR西日本, Jeiāru Nishi-Nihon), is one of the Japan Railways Group (JR Group) companies and operates in western Honshū.