JR East have announced that they are building a new shinkansen train, the E8 series, which will be introduced on the Yamagata Shinkansen Line in 2024. The new train will replace the E3 series and raise the maximum speed of the Yamagata Shinkansen service from the current 275 km/h to 300 km/h. This faster speed is made possible by the 9-meter-long nose of the E8 shinkansen which is a full 3 meters longer than the nose of the E3.
The E8 is a 7-car train with standard seating for 329 passengers and Green Car (1st class) seating for 26 passengers. All cars will be fitted with full active suspension to ensure a smoother ride.
The design of the E8 is being overseen by the industrial designer and Yamagata native Kiyoyuki Ken Okuyama who has previously designed the Saphir Odoriko sightseeing express train and the Shiki-Shima luxury cruise train for JR East, as well as the Revaty series of limited express trains for Tobu Railway.
In this train’s case the E8’s design is clearly inspired by a love of Yamagata. The exterior of the train has three colors: purple, white and yellow. Purple represents Yamagata’s prefectural bird, the mandarin duck; white represents the snow of Mount Zao, a famous mountain in Yamagata; while yellow represents Yamagata’s prefectural flower, the safflower.
The train’s interior is also inspired by Yamagata’s natural scenery. Green Car seating is colored a deep green to evoke the evergreen forests of Mount Gassen while the carpet is intended to represent the flow of the Mogami River. Standard car seating is colored to represent safflowers with graduated shades of red and yellow representing the traditional method of extracting dye from the safflower. The standard car carpet again represents the flow of the Mogami River, but it is colored as if “illuminated by the sun shining through safflowers”.
All cars will be provided with ample baggage space, wheelchair spaces, and all seats will have power outlets.
The first E8 series trains will be completed and ready for test runs by September 2022. Thereafter the new trains will be gradually introduced to the Yamagata Shinkansen from the spring of 2024, with a total of 17 E8 trains due to be completed and in operation by 2026.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos courtesy of JR East. All rights reserved.