2017 No.20

Railway Journey across Japan


Train Travel Today:
Greater Comfort and Safety

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Experience in the Shinkansen General Control Center Essential to Smooth Operation

“Capacity for sound judgment is critical to operational management using a computer system,” says Hirayama Tsutomu, director of the Train Operation Controllers for the Tokaido Shinkansen, as he explains the importance of on-site decision-making.

Put succinctly, experience for controllers comes when a typhoon or similar calamity throws the train schedule way off. As an example, the extent of congestion on the platform changes constantly with the seasons, days of the week, time of day, and other factors. It’s not possible to determine how to lessen the confusion simply by moving the trains with computers alone. Train operation controllers take a close-up look at conditions on the platform in addition to the monitor in order to make the most appropriate decisions.

Up to 432 services operate on any one day with the Tokaido Shinkansen (results up to October 2016). When something unexpected happens, control personnel from different fields come together to make decisions.

Japan’s Diverse Rail Technology in Action Overseas

The advanced technology in Japan, a major power in rail, is being introduced in earnest around the world. The Taiwan High Speed Rail, which started operation in 2007, uses 700T carriages based on the Series 700 carriages on Japan’s Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. A Japanese rail company with proven results also lends a hand with human resource development to ensure safe and punctual service. Japan’s unique and meticulous practice and training helped foster core human resources as instructors. There has not been a single major accident on the line since it opened almost 10 years ago.

The new edition High Speed 1 train connecting London in the United Kingdom to the Channel Tunnel runs using the Class 395 high-speed cars developed by Hitachi, Ltd. in 2009. The train incorporates Shinkansen technology that enables maximum speed of 225 km/hr. The exceptional reliability and on-time service are on par with Japan’s Shinkansen. It won’t be long before the start of operation of the AT-300, a high-speed hybrid train equipped with a diesel-powered generator under the floor.

Japan-made trains operate on the new high-speed line connecting London to the Channel Tunnel. The trains can run freely on both conventional lines and dedicated high-speed lines.

The high-speed railway in Taiwan has been highly praised for its comprehensive Japanese technology in such aspects as quietness, comfort, and punctual service.

Japan’s rail technology has been introduced in emerging countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar. The used trains, with their role completed following the introduction of new models in Japan, are exported along with maintenance-related technology as a set. Rather than merely handing over used trains, many countries around the world are also given the know-how to continue using the high quality products for a long time to come.

Japanese trains are exported to Jakarta in Indonesia. These trains once operated on the JR Joban Line and Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.

Trains Inspire a Taste for Travel

Japan is teeming with sightseeing trains, each with its own local color. These trains offer panoramic views of the country’s nature in each season and are built using local natural materials to ensure a comfortable space to relax. More than just a means of transport, it’s a joy simply to ride on one of these trains.

Photos: Eizan Electric Railway Co., Ltd., Echigo TOKImeki Railway Company., Kyushu Railway Company, and Mashima Railway Pictures Co., Ltd.

• Cruise train “Seven Stars in Kyushu”

On this cruise train, which travels around Kyushu, passengers stay in luxurious cabins. The interior includes porcelain that is individually hand-made by local traditional artisans as well as kumiko-styled wooden transoms, providing a glamorous feel to the classical interior. (Photo provided by Kyushu Railway Company)

• “Yufuin no Mori”

This limited express resort train heads to the popular hot spring area of Yufuin. The train has big windows so that passengers can take in the best view along the trip. A lounge space boasting a contemporary wooden design provides the perfect chance to chat, which adds to the enjoyment of the journey.

• Eizan Electric Railway’s “Kirara”

The seats face windows that extend to the ceiling for passengers to fully appreciate the northern area of Kyoto’s beautiful nature in comfort. When the autumn leaves cast their crimson color inside of the train, it is truly a sight to behold.

• “Echigo TOKImeki Resort SETSUGEKKA”

On this sightseeing train operating along a local line in Niigata Prefecture, passengers can enjoy the beautiful scenery while tasting local flavors. The train offers spectacular views of the Sea of Japan and Mt. Myoko. Passengers can get a true feel for the natural richness Niigata has to offer.

• “Toreiyu Tsubasa”

This resort train has been introduced on the Yamagata Shinkansen line. One of the key features is a footbath carriage where passengers can bathe their feet in hot spring water. With a carriage featuring Japanese-style tatami flooring and a lounge car selling local food and sake, people on board can experience the atmosphere of walking in a hot spring resort town.