Sunday, October 14, 2007

Faster than a speeding bullet: The Shinkansen.

Oh so pretty: the classic O series Shinkansen

"The Shinkansen (新幹線?) is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by Japan Railways. Since the initial Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened in 1964 running at 210 km/h (130 mph), the network (2,459 km or 1,528 miles) has expanded to link most major cities on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū with running speeds of up to 300 km/h (188 mph), in an earthquake and typhoon prone environment. Test run speeds have been 443 km/h (275 mph) for conventional rail in 1996, and up to a world record of 581 km/h (361 mph) for maglev trainsets, in 2003.

Perhaps for christmas: the N-scale Tomix Shinkansen.

Shinkansen literally means "New Trunk Line" and hence strictly speaking refers only to the tracks, while the trains themselves are officially referred to as "Super Express" (超特急 chō-tokkyū?); however, this distinction is rarely made even in Japan. In contrast to older lines, Shinkansen are standard gauge, and use tunnels and viaducts to go through and over obstacles, rather than around them."
Japanese Manga hero Cyborg 009 (a.k.a Joe Shimura) races the local Shinkansen-and wins.

The popular English name bullet train is a literal translation of the Japanese term dangan ressha (弾丸列車), a nickname given to the project while it was initially being discussed in the 1930s. The name stuck due to the Shinkansen locomotive's resemblance to a bullet and its high speed.
The "Shinkansen" name was first formally used in 1940 for a proposed standard gauge passenger/freight line between Tokyo and Shimonoseki, using steam and electric locomotives with a top speed of 200 km/h. Over the next three years, the Ministry of Railways drew up more ambitious plans to extend the line to Beijing (through a tunnel to Korea) and even Singapore, and build connections to the Trans-Siberian Railway and other trunk lines in Asia. These plans were abandoned in 1943, as Japan's position in World War II worsened. However, some construction did commence on the line; several tunnels on the present-day Shinkansen date to the war-era project.
The Japanese Sonny Chiba film: "The Bullet Train" via its German Lobby card.
Existence as a Shinkansen train is tough; though most rail equipment has a service life of thirty or more years, Shinkansen sets are retired after fifteen, and they are generally removed from service after that point. All 0 series cars are now past fifteen years of service; therefore, few are left. The only 0 series sets now in use are 6 car sets used on JR West Kodama services between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, and on the Hakata Minami Line, which is technically not a Shinkansen line. Outside of Japan, the leading vehicle from a 0 series set can be found at the British National Railway Museum in York. It was donated to the museum by the JR West company in 2001.
During the Shinkansen's 40-odd year, 6 billion passenger history, there have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions (including earthquakes and typhoons). Injuries and a single fatality have been caused by doors closing on passengers or their belongings; attendants are employed at platforms to prevent this.

There have been suicides by passengers jumping both from and in front of moving trains.

Even perfection can have a bad day: Toki No. 325 has fallen and can't get up.

The only derailment of a Shinkansen train in passenger service occurred during the Chūetsu Earthquake on October 23, 2004. Eight of ten cars of the Toki No. 325 train on the Jōetsu Shinkansen derailed near Nagaoka Station in Nagaoka, Niigata. There were no casualties among the 154 passengers. [2]PDF (43.8 KiB) In the event of an earthquake, an earthquake detection system can bring the train to a stop very quickly. Experimental Fastech 360 trains have ear-like air resistance braking flaps to assist emergency stops at high speeds.

Nice kitty: The Fastech 360 perks its ears for the camera.
Noise pollution concerns mean that increasing speed is becoming more difficult. Current research is primarily aimed at reducing operational noise, particularly the "tunnel boom" phenomenon caused when trains exit tunnels at high speed.
JR East has announced that new trains capable of up to 320 km/h are to be introduced coinciding with the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen extension from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori in early 2011. Extensive trials using the Fastech 360 test trains has shown that operation at 360 km/h is not currently feasible due to problems of noise pollution, overhead wire wear, and braking distances. This may indicate the limits to railed Shinkansen technology, and eventually maglev or another technology will need to replace it. Operation at speeds of up to 320 km/h between Utsunomiya and Shin-Aomori is expected to allow journey times of around 3 hours for trains from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori (a distance of approximately 675 km)."
If I eat over three dozen child's bentos at my local sushi bar I get to keep the dish, I'm up to 13 as of today...a third of the way there, such is the depth of my devotion.


s.j.simon said...

:) You know, the swiss were very late to lay rail tracks. check this out

Anonymous said...

The Shinkansen bento is super cool.... did you get it??

ADA Grosir said...

waaaaw nice post