Japan's new bullet train to hit speeds of 400 kmph
10 May 2019
Japan's JR East is all set to test-run the next-generation bullet train, which would hit speeds of 400 km per hour (249 mph), faster than China’s Fuxing Hao, which is currently the fastest with 360 km per hour speed.
Test runs of the new train start tonight, with plans to put the new train into service by 2030, around the same time the nation’s bullet train network will extend to reach Sapporo, the main city in Japan’s northern Hokkaido region.
The new 10-carriage Alfa-X train is packed with new technology, and its distinct aerodynamic nose is dramatically elongated to minimise pressure and noise when passing through tunnels.
To cope with massive wind resistance when entering tunnels, the Alfa-Xs first car will mostly be a sleek nose, measuring 22 meters (72 feet). With just three windows, there looks to be hardly any space, if at all, for passengers in the front.
Painted in metallic silver with green stripes, the 10-car bullet train will begin test runs tonight between the cities of Aomori and Sendai.
The new bullet train will have air brakes on the roof and also use magnetic plates near the rails to slow down, in addition to conventional brakes.
The train will have dampers and air suspension to keep it stable when traversing curves, maintaining its balance and comfort for passengers.
Other features include specialist equipment to reduce the impact of possible earthquake tremors.
Alfa-X stands for Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation. The new train is based on JRs E5 platform, which already operates on major routes in Japan.
The train’s 400 kmph speed will easily surpass the world’s fastest bullet trains which are currently in operation in Japan and France, travelling at a maximum speed of around 320 kmph
With the fastest-ever Shinkansen bullet train, capable of speeds of as much as 400 kilometers (249 miles) per hour, Japan is pushing the limits of rail travel..
Rail company JR East plans to operate it at 360 kilometers per hour. That would make it 10 kph faster than China’s Fuxing Hao, which links Beijing and Shanghai and has the same top speed.
Japan’s bullet trains, which made their debut in the same year as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, have become a symbol of the country’s focus on efficiency and reliability. Shinkansen’s are rarely late, even though they depart Tokyo Station every few minutes for Osaka, Kyoto and other destinations across the archipelago, making them a viable alternative to air travel. The Alfa-X is a key part of a plan to offer faster services to Sapporo, the biggest city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido.
The development of the next-generation shinkansen is based on the key concepts of superior performance, a high level of comfort, a superior operating environment and innovative maintenance, East Japan Railway Co., better known as JR East, said in a statement.
While the Alfa-X may be the world’s fastest train right now, it may already be dethroned by the time it goes into service in 2030. Ahead of this a new maglev line is being built between Tokyo and Nagoya with operations starting in 2027. Travelling mostly through deep tunnels, the magnetically levitated train will travel at a top speed of 505 kilometres per hour, cutting the time between the two cities to 40 minutes, from the current 110 minutes.