Rolling Out New Super-Fast Trains (Video)

Video: New Shinkansen N700 from Youtube

While the U.S. is finally planning to spend some $8 billion to start thinking about high-speed rail services, Treehugger has noted that other countries are way ahead. Case in point: Japan is now extending its widely popular Shinkansen super-fast train network to the island of Kyushu, with new N700 Series trains from Hitachi and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. If you like fast trains, the N700 has a maximum speed of 300 km/h (185 mph). The video notes that these new trains are "ecology" and the N700 reduces power consumption by 19%.

shinkansen 500 700 japan photo

Photo: Comparing the Shinkansen 500 and 700 series, from wikipedia

The TGV and the Eurostar also clock in at around the same speeds. Tilting of up to one degree allows trains to maintain 270 km/h even on 2,500 m radius curves that usually has a maximum speed of 255 km/h.

Another feature of the N700 is that it accelerates quicker than other Shinkansen trains, with an acceration rate of 2.6 km/h/s. This enables it to reach 270 km/h in only three minutes.

sakura shinkansen japan photo

Photo: N700 Shinkansen from The Mainichi

Since 2008, the N700 is already in daily service on two lines, between Shin-Yokohama and Hiroshima stations, and between Tokyo and Nagoya stations. A third N700 Hikari run was added in October 2008 to a morning service from Nagoya to Tokyo. The new service to Kyushu will start in spring, 2011.

The N700 was jointly developed by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and West Japan Railway Co. at the cost of $2.1 billion. What I like about the N700 is not that it can go faster, but that it can go full speed over more of the track than the previous trains could. Smooth.

Noting that the stimulus package allocates 8-9 billion for rail, I wonder why the United States is still going to spend $27.5 billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation). With rising oil prices and peak oil about to hit us all hard, that just does not make much sense. Speaking of making sense: is the US really spending $537 billion on the military (and that doesn't even seem to include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan)?

More fast, sustainable trains:
Railroads for Sustainability: What Can We Do?
Hitachi Super-Express Trains Coming To Britain
Shinkansen: Introducing The Five Fastest Regular Super Express Trains In Japan
Project Transit: Restoring the Romance of Public Transportation
Making Trains Fun, Sexy, And Romantic in Japan
MagLev Trains by 2025 In Japan
High-Speed Trains Coming To California

Written by Martin Frid at

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