Hayabusa bullet trains began running Saturday at a new top speed of 320 kph on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, equalling France’s TGV as the world’s fastest train in operation.
Meanwhile, a new red E6 series bullet train debuted on the Akita Shinkansen Line the same day and part of local train lines in Miyagi Prefecture resumed operation for the first time in two years, providing a sliver of good news for the disaster-hit Tohoku region.
The E5 series Hayabusa, which links Tokyo with Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of Honshu, now reaches speeds of 320 kph between Utsunomiya and Morioka — the capitals of Tochigi and Iwate prefectures.
The first of a new generation of high-speed, magnetic levitation trains has been unveiled in Japan, designed to operate at speeds of more than 310mph.
The front car of the Series L0 maglev measures nearly 92 feet long – of which 49 feet forms an aerodynamic nose section – and is fitted with 24 seats. A full 16-carriage train will be able to carry 1,000 passengers.
Designed by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), the state-of-the-art trains are scheduled to go into use in 2027 and link Shinagawa Station, in central Tokyo, with Nagoya.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Japanese premier Yoshihiko Noda met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia on Tuesday, reaching an agreement to discuss the potential of bringing Japan’s shinkansen (“bullet train”) technologies to the populated South Asian country. Specific conditions have yet to be set, but India has been looking into a high-speed railway project for the future.
Japan’s experience and developments with bullet trains would specifically be applied to a 680 kilometer (422 mile) route that would connect the Indian cities of Pune, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad, running through several highly populated areas. This would be the central focus of India’s plans, which include six different high-speed train routes across a total of 4,100 kilometers (2,548 miles). The expectation of the Indian government is that equipment be manufactured locally, a strategy that would cut costs, attract investments, and provide new job opportunities.
A representative from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism commented that the sideline meeting between the two countries’ leaders may have given the country a leg up over bidders for the project. Japan’s bullet train technologies and rail cars have only been exported to Taiwan, but earlier this year Hitachi landed a deal to bring $7 billion worth of high-speed trains to the U.K. In addition, several Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, as well as Brazil in South America, are looking into high-speed train advancements in order to serve their growing economies and populations.
Japan is set to launch at the weekend its next-generation high-speed train, featuring sleek green and silver cars with pink stripes and named for the peregrine falcon.
The "Hayabusa," the first upgrade of Japan’s bullet train fleet in 14 years, has sparked such excitement among railway buffs that one ticket for Saturday, when it debuts, sold for thousands of dollars on the internet, media said.
The train clocks in at a top speed of 300 km (180 miles) an hour, making it the fastest train in Japan — and just short of China’s Harmony Express, a cross-continental rapid transit line that hits a high of 350 km an hour.
"It is indeed a bullet train that represents the high level of our company and Japan’s technology," said Tomoyuki Endo, manager of the Shinkansen Group at East Japan Railway Company.
"Not only with its speed but also with its eco-friendly, speedy, reliable and comfortable mechanical performance as well as its fine passenger service."
A government panel approved a plan Wednesday to build a magnetically levitated train line over the shortest proposed Tokyo-Osaka route.
The panel at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry gave the green light to a midterm report that states Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) is responsible for constructing and operating the route on a virtual straight line through the Southern Alps.
Because it has a more favorable cost-benefit ratio, the panel favors that route over other proposals that would divert the line north of the mountain range.
The travel time between Tokyo and Osaka under the plan is expected to be 67 minutes at the shortest.
The railway, known as JR Tokai, said it plans to start construction in fiscal 2014, complete the line between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 and finish the full line reaching Osaka in 2045.
I never tire of the uses for wii remotes. Below are two videos featuring some cool geekery and even a shot from a shinkansen. The windows are actually dual 46 inch monitors mounted vertically and powered by a mac book pro, controlled with an iphone, and rigged for sound and more using an infra-red necklace that points the direction of the viewer out to the wii remote while moving the window’s view in the opposite direction of the viewer and making it seem like you are seeing out a real window. Cool!
Walt Disney World in Florida may be the next stop for bullet-train makers in Japan and China.
Central Japan Railway Co. and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. are competing for the $8 billion President Barack Obama granted for 13 high-speed corridors across the U.S., including a Tampa-Orlando line that may include a station at the Walt Disney Co. resort in Orlando. The Japanese company, also known as JR Central, is eyeing North America as a shrinking population at home limits its growth.
France’s Alstom SA, Germany’s Siemens AG and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. also want to sell trains, tracks and operating equipment under an initiative that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHoodcalled “an absolute game-changer for American transportation.” The high-speed corridors include New York- Buffalo, New York; Los Angeles-San Francisco; and Chicago- Detroit.
“High-speed rail is going to be a big industry in the U.S.,” said Masayuki Kubota, who oversees the equivalent of $1.8 billion in assets at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. in Tokyo. “A lot of companies are going to try and get a piece of the action.”