What’s lengthy and quick, and might run if there’s an earthquake? Japan’s latest bullet prepare

What’s long and fast, and can run if there’s an earthquake? Japan’s newest bullet train

Japan has launched a speed-record-breaking new Shinkansen, or bullet prepare. Not solely is it extra snug than earlier fashions, however it will possibly additionally run with out exterior energy throughout an emergency, albeit just for a brief distance.

The N700S is the newest incarnation of Japan’s well-known bullet prepare, the title of which references its immense velocity capabilities. It was meant to be put into operation for the primary time throughout the Tokyo Olympics, however when the 2020 competitors was postponed as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, the Central Japan Railway Firm (referred to as JR Central) determined to launch it anyway.

Practice fans flocked this week to Tokyo Station, the place Shin Kaneko, the corporate’s president, led the ceremony to mark the primary business departure of a N700S. Fittingly, the brand new mannequin made its inaugural journey on the Tokaido Shinkansen, Japan’s first bullet-train line.

JR Central plans to spice up its fleet of N700Ss to 12 throughout the present fiscal 12 months, and to 40 by 2022. The “S” in its title stands for “Supreme”. The 16-car mannequin has an improved active-suspension system that delivers a quieter and smoother trip, and a brand new emergency-braking system.

The prepare can be fitted with lithium batteries, which permit it to maneuver with out an exterior energy provide, if, for instance, there’s an outage attributable to an earthquake. The batteries permit the prepare to maneuver away from a harmful a part of the route, comparable to a bridge or a tunnel, and presumably even attain the protection of the closest station.

The N700S additionally has a reworked inside, which incorporates seats with particular person energy shops, baggage racks with lighting that’s routinely turned on throughout every scheduled cease, and different quality-of-life enhancements.

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Bullet trains are a degree of nationwide pleasure for Japan and a discipline of competitors with China, which has developed its personal spectacular community of high-speed trains. Throughout trials final 12 months, the N700S hit speeds of 360kph – a report for Shinkansen trains. Chinese language CRH3 trains, in the meantime, have clocked up 400kph on check tracks.

The world report for business trains working on metal wheels is 574.8kph – a feat achieved by France’s TGV 4402 again in 2007. In observe, nonetheless, high-speed trains run at decrease speeds throughout common operation in each nation that deploys them.

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