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International Railroad Discussion > Tokaido Shinkansen Meet

Date: 01/31/23 11:14
Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: cchan006

My brother joined me in Japan (May 2016 trip), and we went hiking near Toyohashi, located about 180 miles west of Tokyo, or about 45 miles SE from Nagoya. He's a casual railfan, so he lets me railfan, as long as I don't disrupt his plans. It's easy to mix foaming with other activities in Japan.

G7 Summit was happening that week, in Mie Prefecture about 45 miles away to the SW (straight line) separated by Ise Bay. Lots of security presence in Tokyo and Nagoya, with uniformed officers (always in pairs) patrolling the train stations.

We wanted to find a locker to store our luggage, as we were in the middle of doing a JR Rail Pass marathon trip around Japan. This is when we got a hint of how meritocracy works in Japan's most profitable railroad, JR Central, or JR Tokai.

We couldn't quite find the "coin locker" area, so we asked a station agent on the non-HSR side. He was somewhat clueless, suggesting us to leave the station to look. I instinctively headed to the Shinkansen side of the station and asked the younger station agent there. He specifically told us where the "coin locker" areas were, and the best one was only a few yards around the corner from the non-HSR station agent.

In my travels, I've found that employees working on the Shinkansen side tend to be better trained. The difference is more pronounced outside megalopolis areas (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka). That's a travel tip for those planning to travel by rail in Japan.

- We found a nice ridge hiking terrain near Toyohashi, high enough for hang glider launches.
- I couldn't find Waldo, but I found a Shinkansen.
- Video to be described next post.

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Date: 01/31/23 11:30
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: cchan006

To reach the trailhead, we rented a car out of Toyohashi Station. On our way to hiking, I picked a random location (based on looking at "Car Navi" or the GPS Navigation system included in the rental) and found an elevated angle to my liking.

The westbound that shows up first, is the Class 700 ("duck-billed, platypus-faced") Shinkansen set, no longer in service on the Tokaido Shinkansen. They can still be found on the Sanyo Shinkansen west of Shin-Osaka, running as 6 or 8 car sets, painted in the "Hikari Railstar" scheme.

The eastbound (Tokyo-bound), newer Class N700 shows up next for a block and a meet, both running at track speed.

The remaining two clips are at Toyohashi Station, eastbound, then westbound, both N700s. We had finished our hiking and returned to the station for the next segment of our trip.

Here's a trivia I learned from a railfan in Japan: Toyohashi is one of the very few stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line that's actually ground level. All other stations (except Maibara) are elevated. So the second clip shows the ROW descending to the station, and with a zoom lens, you can capture the train set "arching."

There's speculation as to why Toyohashi and Maibara are ground level, while others are elevated to minimize grade changes of the ROW. Both Toyohashi and Maibara have road bridges that go over the ROW and the stations, and they existed before the Shinkansen construction started. I suspect that instead of dismantling the bridges to disrupt road traffic, Shinkansen planners decided to lower the ROW and keep the bridges intact.

Hope people enjoyed the side stories and trivia. That's it for the report.

Date: 01/31/23 11:37
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: symph1

Are there any stations where an express flies through the station on the track nearest the platform?

Date: 01/31/23 12:03
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: cchan006

symph1 Wrote:
> Are there any stations where an express flies
> through the station on the track nearest the
> platform?

I know of one, Atami, but the express "flies" at reduced speeds - 185 km/h or 115 mph.

Due to the station located on steep hilly terrain, tracks through Atami has no passing tracks, and are curved, hence the reduced speeds. It was very important for the Shinkansen planners to build Atami Station right next to the non-HSR one, because Atami is a popular hot springs resort town with a very nice ocean view, and getting that ridership was important.

The safety barrier and gates ("home door" or "ホームドア") were first implemented in Japan at Atami in 1974, to protect the passengers from passing Shinkansen trains. Back when Shinkansen top speed was "only" 210 km/h, 185 km/h was still plenty fast.

Previously, there were passing trains at Shin-Kobe, next station west of Shin-Osaka. Since there are no passing tracks there either, the express would "fly" adjacent to the platforms. Less curvature there, so one source claims trains passed at 230 km/h (143 mph). All trains stop at Shin-Kobe now.

Date: 01/31/23 12:55
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: cchan006

Silly me. I forgot about what I did last year, because I was too busy thinking about 2016...

Here are some video captures at Shin-Omura Station on the brand new Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen service ("Nagasaki Shinkansen"). I visited there 3 weeks after they started service in September 23, 2022.

There are several stations on this and the longer-running Kyushu Shinkansen Line where there are no passing tracks, so the express trains fly by adjacent to the platforms. Top speed is 260 km/h (162 mph), and going by the "byun byun" passing sounds, they seemed be running slower than that, closer to 240 km/h?

I'll post a report on this later, as I still have to go through so many materials from 2016-2021.

Date: 02/03/23 07:47
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: symph1

Ah-ha, that's where I'd seen one go by on the platfrom track. My son got married in Ito, so we changed trains in Atami.

Date: 02/03/23 17:48
Re: Tokaido Shinkansen Meet
Author: cchan006

symph1 Wrote:
> Ah-ha, that's where I'd seen one go by on the
> platfrom track. My son got married in Ito, so we
> changed trains in Atami.

For TO members who don't know, Ito is located on the beautiful Izu Peninsula, very popular for tourists. I've visited the peninsula from both the west side (Mishima) and east side (Atami), and drove on the Izu Skyline toll road, and rode a boat around Irouzaki, cape on the southern tip of the peninsula. That was years ago before I was a TO member.

Congrats on your son for picking a very memorable location for a wedding, in Ito.
I hope to visit Atami specifically to railfan in the near future. There's an interesting story behind Atami and the next stop to the west, Mishima. Needless to say, it makes total mockery of the lame "business vs. experiential travel" debate we had in the Passenger Discussions on TO years ago. JNR thought getting ridership was important, catering to every facet of travel, ignoring the business travel snobbery.

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