This spring Kintetsu Railway will introduce a new limited express service called the “Hinotori” which will offer unprecedented levels of comfort for passengers traveling between the cities of Osaka and Nagoya. Hinotori means “phoenix” in Japanese, a name which reflects the new train’s combination of speed and elegant refinement.[Read more…]
JR Hokkaido have introduced two new sightseeing trains called the “Sanshi-Suimei” series on local lines. The trains are renovated Kiha 40 series trains, which have been thoroughly refurbished both inside and out.[Read more…]
As the year draws to a close let’s take a look at some of Japan’s outstanding train designs in 2019. Japan Institute of Design Promotion have selected two beautiful railway vehicles for this year’s Good Design Awards: the Sotetsu 12000 series and Hiroshima Electric Railway’s “Green Mover Apex”, along with Seibu’s Laview express train for a Gold Award.[Read more…]
Tokyo Metro have announced that the new station building and platform for the Ginza Line at Shibuya Station will open for business on January 3rd 2020. First opened in 1938, the Ginza Line Shibuya Station is a busy transportation hub with around 220,000 passengers per day in 2018. Work to relocate the station building has been ongoing since 2009 and is just one part of the ongoing redevelopment projects in and around the Shibuya Station complex. In this case, the Ginza Line stop’s new location should make transfers easier with the other multiple rail lines that make use of the Shibuya Station complex.[Read more…]
Imagine taking a trip through some of Kyushu’s most beautiful scenery in an old fashioned steam train. A plume of smoke flows from the engine as the train runs through the forested countryside and the haunting pipe of the steam whistle echoes through the Kuma River valley.[Read more…]
JR East recently introduced a new sightseeing train, called “Kairi”, that runs along the coastline of Niigata and Yamagata prefectures. The Kairi runs between Niigata Station and Sakata Station on the Hakushin and Uetsu Main lines taking in views along the way of the Echigo and Shonai plains, the Sea of Japan, and the sacred Three Mountains of Dewa. The scenic beauty and culinary bounty of this region is expressed in the name Kairi (海里) whose two characters mean “sea” and “country village”.[Read more…]
To celebrate the opening of a new museum in Arashiyama, Kyoto, the Keifuku Randen Line is currently running a special “Museum Train” which is decorated both inside and out with images from some of Japan’s most famous paintings.[Read more…]
The end of October, 2019 will see the retirement of the railcars currently running on the monorail service at Ueno Zoo. The big question is, will the Ueno Zoo Monorail run again?
The Ueno Zoo Monorail (properly called Ueno Kensui-sen or Ueno Suspension Line) connects the east and west sides of the Ueno Zoo, and has been running since December 1957. It is of some historical significance as it was the very first monorail to run in Japan. At the time it must have seemed quite futuristic, but today the colorful railcars provide an attractive 90 second alternative to walking the ten minute route between the two halves of the zoological gardens. An added advantage of the monorail’s elevated route is the pleasant view it presents over the western garden’s Shinobazu Pond. [Read more…]
Earlier this year JR East unveiled the Class E956 experimental train which has been given the futuristic name: “Alfa-X”. This prototype ten-car bullet train is currently being used to test the latest cutting-edge rail technology with the aim of developing a next-generation bullet train that is much faster than current models while ensuring passenger safety and comfort. The name Alfa-X stands for “Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation”.
Safety features on the Alfa-X include new dampers to ensure stability in the event of an earthquake, with air brakes on the roof and magnetic breaking devices on the undercarriage to enable a swift and safe deceleration. New vibration control devices are fitted to all carriages to ensure a smooth ride and the design of the undercarriage also reduces the accumulation of snow and ice in winter. Two types of pantograph (the rooftop devices that collect power from overhead wires) are also being tested for noise reduction.
However, the most distinctive feature of the new train is its nose. Currently the longest nose on a shinkansen is the 15 meter nose of E5 series trains. Alfa-X actually has two noses: a 16 meter long nose on car number 1 and a 22 meter long nose on car number 10. Both noses are being tested for their effects on pressure and noise levels when passing through tunnels. The longer noses should significantly reduce wind resistance and so also improve energy efficiency.
JR East plans to introduce a new shinkansen train for passengers by spring of 2031. The Hokkaido Shinkansen Line will be extended as far as Sapporo by 2030, so the new train will enable a swift and comfortable direct service between Tokyo and Sapporo. The current maximum speed of shinkansen trains is 320km/h. The aim is to have a new train that runs at a regular speed of 360kms per hour with a top speed of 400km/h.
Testing of the Alfa-X began in May this year between the Sendai and Shin-Aomori stations in northern Tohoku and will continue every week until March 2022.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by Contrail/pixta (1,4). All rights reserved.