A Japanese railway company on Friday unveiled a new Shinkansen bullet train featuring an improved brake system that can reduce the stopping distance to 300-400 meters while speeding at 270 kilometers per hour. The Central Japan Railway Company said the upgraded brake system would enhance safety during emergencies like earthquakes. A large number of railway users witnessed the departure of the company’s first upgraded train — N700A — from the Tokyo station on Friday morning, Japan’s NHK broadcaster reported.
The new model’s top speed remains at 270 kilometers per hour, but its improved brake system can reduces its stopping distance from top speed by 300 to 400 meters while the current model requires three to four kilometers to stop. The railway has been focusing on faster speeds to reduce travel time between Tokyo and Osaka, but the new model instead emphasizes safety in the event of earthquakes or other contingencies, when stopping time is crucial in avoiding serious accidents.
The new model’s computer-controlled system also maintains a constant speed regardless of terrain. The company plans to operate the new train between Osaka and Hakata in western Japan also from March 16.
Earthquakes have long posed a major safety challenge for Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains, which operate at speeds close to 300 kilometers per hour. A magnitude-6.8 quake in Niigata prefecture in 2004 caused a bullet train to derail. The accident alerted railway officials to the need for safer high-speed trains.
The Central Japan Railway Company has also developed a monitoring system that detects earthquakes early and automatically stops the trains. Steel plates have also been installed along the tracks to prevent derailments.
To create the new system, the railway developed a mechanism in which the brake disks do not deform under strong pressure. When brakes are applied at high speeds, the disks can become deformed by the resulting heat friction. It took six years for the company to develop the new system.
Kei Sakanoue, who headed the project, said modifying a brake system was a big challenge, but one that was needed to protect this major transport system from earthquakes.
Why can’t we design cool space ship looking trains like this? What’s the hold up?
LA to the Bay area in a few hours? Sounds great, but the people of California, it seems, don’t want to spend the money because they wouldn’t use the trains. This is obviously because most of the people answering this p0ll were too fat to fit on trains or because there are no plans for the trains to have rubber testicles hanging from the back. Build it anyway!