JR East will debut ALFA-X train to develop next-generation shinkansen model


East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday that it will introduce a 10-car test train, dubbed ALFA-X, in spring 2019 with the aim of developing a next-generation shinkansen model.

The company hopes to achieve a maximum operating speed of 360 kph for the new shinkansen.

ALFA-X stands for “Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation,” according to JR East, which operates the Tohoku, Joetsu and other high-speed lines.

“We’ll complete the next shinkansen model by around fiscal 2030,” JR East President Tetsuro Tomita told reporters, referring to the planned extension of the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line to Sapporo by the end of the fiscal year.

The Hokkaido Shinkansen Line, operated by Hokkaido Railway Co., opened in March 2016 running between Shin-Aomori Station in Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido. The bullet-train line links seamlessly to the Tohoku Shinkansen Line at Shin-Aomori, allowing passengers to travel between Tokyo and Hokkaido without changing trains.

Currently, JR East’s E5 series, used for Hayabusa trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, is the fastest shinkansen, traveling at operating speeds of up to 320 kph.

To develop a faster shinkansen, noise created from running trains needs to be reduced.

The ALFA-X test train is expected to have two different front cars as JR East will check technologies for reducing air pressure when the train enters a tunnel. One of them will have a nose that is longer than that of the E5 series front car, and the other will have the same nose length but a different shape.

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