Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 62 (p47-p52)
Establishment of Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC)
Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC) started operations on 2 April 2012 as a wholly owned rolling stock manufacturing subsidiary of East Japan Railway Company (JR East). Its forerunner is Tokyu Car Corporation (TCC) with a 63-year history as a pioneering manufacturer of stainless-steel rolling stock in Japan (Table 1).
|Background to J-TREC Establishment|
On 27 October 2011, JR East announced its acquisition of management rights to TCC’s rolling stock manufacturing business and J-TREC was established when the business transfer was completed on 2 April 2012.
|Table 1: J-TREC Corporate Profile
Table 2: JR East Corporate Profile
Figure 1: Production to Date
Photo: Series E7 Shinkansen Design
|Business History and Overview|
TCC was established as Tokyu Yokohama Plant Co., Ltd., in August 1948 to restore war-damaged rolling stock. It changed its name to Tokyu Car Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in 1953 and then built Japan’s first stainless-steel-skin Tokyu 5200 EMU in 1958 followed in 1962 by Japan’s first all-stainless-steel Tokyu 7000 series of rolling stock using a technical joint venture with Budd Company in the USA. Using these and other accomplishments, TCC established a firm footing as the top manufacturer in Japan of stainless-steel rolling stock. J-TREC has produced some 8000 stainless-steel rolling stock to date (including those built previously by TCC) and about 60% of commuter trains in Greater Tokyo today are now stainless steel. Work is now underway on developing the next generation of stainless-steel rolling stock.
|Photo: Kiha E200 Hybrid Train|
|In its October 2012 JR East Group Management Vision V, the JR East group of companies adopted ‘globalization’ as a means of ‘pursuing unlimited potential’. This vision sets out the policy of establishing rolling stock manufacturing as a ‘fourth pillar of operations’ and spreading Japanese railway technology to the world.
Japan’s population is already declining and the environment for various JR group businesses looks bleak in the longer term. However, at the same time, there are many business chances outside Japan. In addition to the so-called ‘Big Three’ general railway equipment manufacturers (Alstom, Siemens and Bombardier) outside Japan, the rapid rise of Chinese and South Korean rolling stock builders stands out. Many rolling stock builders, especially in Europe, have characteristics that distinguish them from competitors, making it a tough challenge to compete with them.
Production of rolling stock for overseas markets during the TCC era started with rolling stock for Argentina in 1961. So far, the company has exported about 600 finished rolling stock to Asia, North America, South America, Europe, and elsewhere. The last rolling stock produced for markets outside Japan were EMUs for Irish Railway in 2004.
Looking at the total market for railway equipment outside Japan, although there is some market for high-speed rail such as shinkansen, most equipment is for urban railways (Figure 3). Against this market background, J-TREC decided to actively market its premium stainless-steel urban railcars including for subways. Simultaneously, the company is perfecting design and manufacturing abilities for high-speed cars implementing the latest technologies through design and manufacture of the Series E7. By focusing on the importance of brand image when entering overseas markets, J-TREC branded its stainless-steel urban railway rolling stock ‘sustina’ to promote product excellence.
The ‘sustina’ brand name is derived from a combination of ‘SUS’, which is the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) abbreviation for stainless steel, and the word ‘sustainable,’ evoking the durability image of stainless steel (beauty, safety, reliability, recyclability).
The main features of ‘sustina’ are high reliability, low cost, long life, and low environmental burden. The rail network in Greater Tokyo carries 40 million passengers each day using about 20,000 cars (60% of which are stainless steel) with headways as short as 2 minutes on some lines (Figure 4). Achieving such a high transport density depends on high reliability and J-TREC’s latest rolling stock achieve a mean distance between failure (MDBF) of more than 1.5 million km and a high availability of more than 99% (counted as delays of 1 minute or longer due to breakdown of cars in commercial operation).
Stainless steel is very corrosion resistant, offering a long service life without painting or corrosion repairs. Also, the body is lighter because reinforcings to resist corrosion are unnecessary.
Thanks to use of the latest technologies, running costs are greatly reduced through lower maintenance and labour costs in areas including running gear and driving devices, streamlined maintenance equipment, energy savings offered by lightweight rolling stock and reduced track maintenance through less wear and tear on rails. The stainless-steel cars also incur low environmental burdens because no paint is used and the materials can be recycled (Figure 5).
The ‘sustina’ brand image was specifically promoted at the InnoTrans 2012 international railway technology trade fair in Berlin, Germany, in September 2012, and J-TREC is also considering establishing ‘sustina’ as a brand in Japan by developing it further as a product for the JR operators and other private and public railways.
In recent years, projects outside Japan have become the focus of attention because they provide a maintenance and operation management package as well as supply of rolling stock. As a JR East subsidiary, J-TREC can access JR East’s huge know-how in maintenance and operations, consolidating the ability to provide maintenance, operations, and rolling-stock packages.
J-TREC is targeting new business in markets outside Japan based on its broad range of high-quality and low-cost technologies centred around its premier sustina stainless-steel rolling stock, as well as high-speed, urban railway, diesel, and hybrid trains. At the same time, the company can provide comprehensive packages of railway technologies backed by other members of the JR East group of companies to contribute to global development by spreading Japan’s railway technologies.
| Figure 2: J-TREC Manufactured Containers and Turnouts
Photo: Sustina design image
Figure 3: Projected Changes in Scale of Global Railway Market (2020)
Figure 4: Transport in Tokyo Area
Figure 5: Features of Stainless Steel
Mr Miyashita is President and Representative Director of Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC). Prior to his current position, he was an Executive Director, and Deputy Director General of Railway Operations Headquarters at JR East.