Japan's Perfect Bullets

Mindful of an Amtrak that's in an ongoing struggle towards profitablity and public acceptance, CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen went searching for something for the company to emulate.

He found perfection in Japan's super-fast bullet trains.

When the Japanese want to get somewhere fast, they use the bullet train. ItÂ's no wonder, because some models go as fast as 200 miles an hour.

When Japanese board the trains, they may be worrying about everything from work to the weather. But thereÂ's one concern that rarely crosses any passenger's mind, and thatÂ's safety.

That's because since the first bullet train ran 35 years ago, there has not been a single fatality. ThatÂ's a stunning figure for a system that daily rushes three-quarters of a million people across Japan.

First of all, bullets run on elevated tracks, and they never meet other rail traffic. Freight and local trains are never allowed on these tracks.

Sensors along the track monitor wind, weather and earthquakes and sometimes actually control the train. On steep curves, they slow it down, and the driver just watches.

Bullet driver Kousuke Hayakawa acknowledges the importance of the sensors, saying, "Making the thing go is easy. It's bringing the train to a halt, which is the more important thing for drivers."