The next generation of Shinkansen bullet trains has already begun testing. The state-of-the-art ‘Alfa-X’ travels up to 400 km/h (almost 250 mph!) and has a range of groundbreaking features.
Journalists were first treated to a trial run of the experimental craft on 27th October 2020, between Sandai and Morioka stations on the JR East Tohoku Shinkansen line, which links Tokyo with Aomori Prefecture in the north of Honshu, Japan’s largest island.
The new bullet train has an aerodynamic, 22-meter nose (longer than any train’s in history), improved traction control, and is made from ultra-light materials.
It has also been designed to run almost silently with maximum comfort for passengers.
The Alfa-X will become the fastest bullet train in operation. Though its maximum speed will be higher, it will run at around 360 km/h while carrying passengers. The fastest commercial train in the world is Shanghai’s maglev train (431km/h) which uses magnetic levitation.
The official name for the Alfa-X is the E956 Series and they will run in the Tokoku region and Hokkaido. The trains will be finished in bright metallic colors to reflect the stunning local surroundings where they will operate.
Improved energy efficiency has been a key priority in the design of the experimental Alfa-X. The use of silicon carbide power converters, combined with the light design, will ensure the trains are environmentally-friendly. To improve passenger comfort, lateral dampers will reduce side-to-side motion and a ‘tremble protection control device’ will minimize vertical vibrations.
The Alfa-X Shinkansen will also have new safety features which aim to protect passengers if there’s an earthquake. Current bullet trains already automatically brake when there are nearby tremors, the Alfa-X will also have dampers to improve stability and stop the train from toppling over.
The underfloor layout will aim to stop the build-up of ice and snow and the equipment will be designed to reduce the chances of failure or damage in the event of freezing conditions.
The Alfa-X logo will represent the cutting-edge design and its AI features. A digital font will symbolize the use of advanced technology and the idea that it leads us to a brighter future.