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E5 Series Shinkansen

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Japan has the most sophisticated railway network of any country in the world. Much of Japan’s population is concentrated in a limited number of urban areas, which means that the number of trains running on any given day needs to be greater than that of most other nations. In particular, networks and timetables in the Kanto region, of which Tokyo is the capital, and the Kansai region, of which Osaka in the main city, are becoming increasingly complex.

Operating these complex timetables—scheduled in units of seconds rather than minutes—as smoothly as possible is indeed a challenge. Japan’s railways and the companies that operate them have to achieve a service that is significantly more punctual and reliable than those of other countries. Overseas, a train departing “just” 15 minutes late may well be considered as “more or less on time.” In Japan, leaving just 15–30 seconds after the scheduled time is enough to warrant description as a delay. Japan’s complex network of railways and the timetables they operate are workable only as a result of the precise, safe, and punctual operation of each individual train service.

Japan’s railway is exceptional in many ways, not least because of its systems. Japan also shows exceptional technical skill in the development and manufacture of the trains engines and cars themselves that are at the heart of these systems. One of the best examples of the cutting-edge functionality included in Japan’s rail engines and cars is the E5 Series Shinkansen, otherwise known as the Hayabusa model of the “bullet train.”

The E5 Series Shinkansen was developed as part of railway operator Japan Railways’ (JR) mid-term business strategy, “New Frontier 21,” under the objective of “developing and operating a Shinkansen capable of a maximum commercial speed of 360 km/h.” The E5 Series is manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industry and Hitachi. Operation of the E5 Series began on 5 March 2011 on two services, Tokyo–Shin-Aomori and Tokyo–Sendai.

The new Shinkansen, operating from 2011, has a maximum commercial speed of 300 km/h; trains capable of a new maximum speed of 320 km/h are scheduled to be ready for operation in 2013. At present, completed trains are able to commercially operate at 320 km/h, and speeds of 360 km/h have been achieved at balancing speed on a 3‰ gradient. In order to ensure high speeds can be maintained on tracks with multiple curves, a banking system using air springs is installed on each car, allowing speeds of 320 km/h on curved tracks with a radius of 4 km. JR continues its program of research and development geared towards achieving commercial operation of trains at 360 km/h over the entire Shinkansen network.

The problem of associated noise must be addressed when operating trains at speeds above 300 km/h. The E5 Series has been developed specifically to minimize noise. Innovations include the so-called “long nose” of the end car is a distinctively curved shape, designed to reduce the tunnel boom that occurs at the exit of a tunnel when a train enters at high speed. It also serves to reduce the noise experienced in the end and intermediate cars. Engineers have also been working on reducing the environmental noise generated outside the cars. The entirety of the car body has been covered in sound-absorbing material, and acoustic absorption covers have been fitted on the lower part of the side structure; this will help to reduce the environmental noise generated by the train. The pantograph used has also been selected for its low-noise properties.

The E5 Series has also been designed with the highest level of passenger comfort in mind. The car interiors are smart and neutral, reminiscent of a hotel lobby, and the seats are ergonomically designed for optimum comfort. In addition to the Standard and Green (first) classes found on other Shinkansen, the E5 Series also boasts “Gran Class” seats, an ultra-first class option that includes special customer service unlike anything previously available on Japan’s railway network.

Normally, when a train needs to travel around curves at high speed, the body of the train will tilt, causing discomfort to passengers. The E5 Series, however, makes use of full active suspension, which compensates for the tilting movement of the train unit and helps to mitigate side-to-side shaking, thereby ensuring passengers have a comfortable journey throughout, even at very high speed.

The E5 Series Shinkansen is capable of providing a high speed service and outstanding passenger comfort, thus setting a new benchmark in passenger train services throughout the globe.



Mar 11, 2011

About the author
Eriko Kinashi is a reporter for Japanest NIPPON
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/index.html
(East Japan Railway Company)
"Development of Series E5 Shinkansen Rolling Stock"
JR East Technical Review No. 16.
East Japan Railway Company. 26 April 2011.
Specifications
Trainset
Trainset configuration 10 cars
Acceleration 1.71km/h/s
Maximum operational speed 300km/h (Mar 2011-spring 2013), 320km/h (spring 2013 onwards)
Passenger capacity 731
Trainset length 253m
Trainset weight 453.5t

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