When it comes to rail transport, no country in the world garners as much praise for speed and efficiency as Japan. Railway companies take special pride in providing the number one form of transport in the country and are constantly working towards ambitious goals to raise the bar. JR East, for instance, has recently announced a new venture to make their bullet trains run even faster.
The speed bump will benefit the JR East Tohoku Shinkansen, which runs from Tokyo to Aomori. Though Tohoku Shinkansen runs at different speeds in different sections of its route, this new undertaking will only boost the train’s speed in the final portion of its journey from Morioka, Iwate to the terminal at Shin-Aomori Station. Currently, the Tohoku Shinkansen runs at 260km per hour in this last section, but will soon ramp up to 320km per hour.
While the train is already travelling at 320km per hour in the penultimate portion of its route, maintaining that speed until it reaches the final destination will involve a lot more than just making a few engine adjustments. Additional work has to be done along 24 sections of the track to mitigate noise pollution, such as improving sound-absorption in tunnels. For this, JR East says it will take a full seven years to make the improvement.
It’s a mammoth operation, but will it all be worth it? Well, that depends on how much you value five minutes of your time. That’s right: by accelerating in the last 178.4km of its journey, the improved shinkansen will only get you to Shin-Aomori Station a modest five minutes earlier. For those who value time more than money, the spare few minutes might prove to be invaluable, but you’ll still have to wait until 2027 to reap the benefits.
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