Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 57 (p6-p11)
Feature : Expansion of High–speed Rail Services
Opening of Tohoku Shinkansen Extension to Shin Aomori and Development of New Faster Carriages—Overview of Series E5/E6
In preparation for the December 2010 opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen extension to Shin Aomori, JR East worked steadily from 2002 on technologies to increase speed, finally settling on a commercial operating speed of 320 km/h after various considerations, including running tests using the FASTECH 360 test train. Furthermore, Series E5 preproduction models were built to determine the specifications of carriages used for commercial operations; running tests confirmed the final specifications ahead of introduction of the Series E5 in spring 2011. Moreover, Series E6 pre-production models reflecting development successes using the FASTECH 360 Z were started in June 2010. These carriages will be coupled with Series E5 carriages in commercial operation to run at 320 km/h.
|Figure 1: Path to Speed Increase|
Path to Speed Increase
The Tohoku Shinkansen started operation in 1982 at a maximum speed of 210 km/h. Today, the commercial operation speed is 275 km/h but 20 years have passed since the first 275 km/h operation with Series 200 carriages on the Joetsu Shinkansen in 1990. Full-scale operation at 275 km/h started with the introduction of the E3 and E2 at the opening of the Akita Shinkansen and Nagano Shinkansen in 1997. In the following 13 years, various technical developments to increase speed were conducted including FASTECH, leading to 320 km/h operation with the E5 and E6.
Success of FASTECH 360
As its name implies, the FASTECH 360 test train was built to study speed issues with a goal of 360 km/h as the maximum commercial operation speed. Development targets were to increase running speed, assure safety, satisfy environment friendliness, and increase comfort. The technology barriers and costs of speed increase were evaluated from 3 years of running tests, and a maximum speed of 320 km/h was found to be best. Although safety and comfort were confirmed at about 400 km/h, this higher speed was not feasible in terms of environmental performance and cost.
|Series E5 Pre-Production Models|
Specifications for Series E5 pre-production models were decided in July 2007 and their design and manufacture started. The E5 pre-production models are FASTECH 360 S carriages optimized for commercial speeds of 320 km/h. Development elements were narrowed down from test results to increase the options for equipment with proven track records. The cars were inaugurated in June 2009, and running tests were started to determine mass production specifications.
|Most running tests were between Sendai and Kitakami;environmental performance was the focus of evaluations. To
secure passenger capacity, the major difference from the
FASTECH design was the nose shape, which was shortened to
15 m compared to the 16-m nose of the FASTECH 360 S. The
shorter nose shape was optimized by eliminating unnecessary
equipment in the hood, securing the same aerodynamic performance as the 16-m nose.
The effects of changes were verified carefully using the same procedures (wind tunnel tests and simulations) as the FASTECH development.
Running tests confirmed that environmental standards such as tunnel boom could be met at 320 km/h. Although there were differences in generation of micro-pressure waves depending on tunnel entrance hood length, levels equivalent to FASTECH were confirmed.
To reduce pantograph running noise with the E5, we worked on the premise of using only one < shaped pickup, with the point in the running direction. When the train is run in the opposite direction, the pantograph is switched to another pantograph facing the opposite direction. However, with this design, if a malfunction occurs and a pantograph does not lower, operation would have to be continued with either both pantographs up or with the pantograph facing the opposite running direction. Running tests were conducted assuming such problems to review handling in these abnormal circumstances.
|Figure 2: Features of Series E5 Pre-Production Models
Photo: Bogie Endurance Test Rig (JR East)
|Series E5 Mass-Production Cars|
The running tests verified the design performance
requirements at 320 km/h and specifications for mass–production were finalized. Test elements for bogie components were also finalized in pre-production models
based on performance and maintainability. Although only
E5 sets will run at the start of commercial services, their
performance at 320 km/h is still sufficient to allow mixed
coupling with the E6 now being manufactured.
Because passengers are demanding even more diverse
services, we decided to introduce a GranClass to provide higher-grade services than current Green Car first class.
This service will be in carriage 10 of E5 trains where 18
customers will be served by special attendants.
|Series E6 Pre-Production Models|
JR East Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Yamagata, and Akita
shinkansen trains intersect at Omiya, so the schedule is
determined by the density of traffic between Tokyo and
Omiya. As a result, increasing the speed of the Tohoku
Shinkansen requires increasing the speed of coupled trains.
Consequently, we decided to increase the speed of the
Akita Shinkansen which runs long distances from Tokyo
and where the effects of speed increases would be clear.
To achieve this goal, we developed the E6 as a successor
to the E3 Komachi. Running tests of FASTECH 360 Z (E955
series) test cars were made repeatedly. These carriages
have contradictory requirements for fast speeds on through
operations between shinkansen lines and conventional
lines plus good performance on curves on conventional
lines, so speed increases create new issues. Much time and
effort was required in running tests to evaluate reduction of
lateral vibration on shinkansen sections and lateral force on conventional lines.
|Table 1: Incremental Speed Increase|
|Operation After Start of Service to Shin Aomori|
Currently, six E2 sets are being added to handle the
extension of the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin Aomori; three E5Hayabusa sets will be introduced in March 2011. They have
started limited operation at 300 km/h, increasing to 320
km/h from spring 2013. Production is progressing on the
remaining 20 sets which will be introduced gradually from
summer 2011. Mass-production of the Series E6 will start at
that time, so for now, E3 cars are being coupled with E5 cars
to run at maximum speeds of 275 km/h. As a consequence,
the Series E3 is being modified.
The speed of the Tohoku Shinkansen is being increased beyond 300 km/h after the opening of the extension to Shin Aomori. Concurrently, the Series 200, E1, and other carriages
will start to be replaced, moving forward to a new generation of rolling stock.
Mr Tajima is a Deputy Director in the Rolling Stock Technology Center of the Transport & Rolling Stock Department at JR East.