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International Railroad Discussion > Shinkansen, Old and New

Date: 04/08/24 02:32
Shinkansen, Old and New
Author: cchan006

Every year around March, JR Group of Railroads make major changes to their schedules, add new train sets or retire old ones. JR = Japan Railways, and the group consists of JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku, JR Kyushu, and JR Freight. These used to be part of the nation-wide, government-run Japan National Railways (JNR, or Kokutetsu 国鉄) that were privatized and split up in 1987.

When I visited Japan in late 2022, I stumbled upon the Green Shinkansen, JR East's Class E2 painted in nostalgic beige/green livery to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the start of Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen Lines, and the 150th Anniversary of railroading in Japan:


As mentioned in the above link, many of the E2 sets are facing retirement, and the Green Shinkansen was just retired last month, in conjunction with the March "rescheduling." I anticipated the retirement, so when I visited Japan in late 2023, I deliberately planned a trip to ride it, then intercept it. I combined that with another railfan trip that I'll report on eventually, plus food tourism in Utsunomiya, famous for their Gyoza (potstickers, or dumplings). That's the first two video clips.

In the first clip, Class E3 set leads the Green E2 set coupled together, departing Utsunomiya.

In the next clip, the same set speeds by the other direction with the E3 trailing. This is at Nasu-Shiobara, one stop north from Utsunomiya.

E3 is called "Mini Shinkansen" due to its narrower body and loading gauge. Runs on the same 1435 mm gauge tracks, but it's narrower to accomodate station platforms on non-HSR ROW where the top speed is lower, 130 km/h (81 mph). This is Japan's compromise solution to provide one seat ride to regions where constructing a HSR ROW is not justified. Current Mini Shinkansen Lines are Yamagata Shinkansen to Shinjo and Akita Shinkansen to Akita, both branching off the HSR Tohoku Shinkansen Line.

In the third clip, an E2 set arrives in Utsunomiya. I learned from my mistake in 2022 and got my camcorder ready beforehand - I missed documenting the Green Shinkansen arriving at Utsunomiya then. I didn't realize that the arriving E2 set had the Tokyo Disney Resort 40th Anniversary wrap. This was on March 14, 2024. The Disney-wrap E2 was also retired, just 2 days after I got the video.

My lucky streak continued when I saw the brand new Mini Shinkansen E8 set parked at Tokyo Station as I arrived. Class E8 is slated to replace the E3, with an improved top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) in contrast to E3's 275 km/h (171 mph). The E8 I documented was on a test run, start of revenue service 2 days away. I barely had enough time to document the E8 departing Tokyo, last clip.

After all this, I hopped on a Class E7 set to Gala Yuzawa, a report I posted yesterday.

I encourage any TO member planning to visit Japan this year, to document the remaining E2 and E3 sets.

- E2 facing E8.
- Closer look at the nose of E8.
- Video as described.

That's it for the report.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/24 02:40 by cchan006.

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Date: 04/09/24 00:07
Re: Shinkansen, Old and New
Author: 55002

Love the video. I enjoyed a trip to Japan some years ago and loved riding the Shinkansen.  Chris uk.

Date: 04/09/24 06:19
Re: Shinkansen, Old and New
Author: broken_link

Thank you for sharing these. I love the rail infrastructure in Japan...top notch. I used to travel there frequently for business and would take the Narita Express into Tokyo and stay in the Park Hotel near the JR East station of Shiodome (Shimbashi) or The Strings Hotel near Shinagawa Station. Both hotels had fantastic views looking down on the rail line where you could watch locals, intercity, and Shinkansen trains come and go. Between the Yamanote Line and subways you could easily access the entire city. Our factory in Kawasaki was reachable with a short train ride and transfer to a local, which would test my Japanese if I didn't have a Japanese colleague with me, and we could access customers in Nagano and Yokohama via rail. I'm trying to get the family there for a vacation before the kids are out of the house.

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