Travelling by train in Japan is getting faster and quieter. A new high-speed bullet train, capable of reaching speeds of up to 350 kilometres an hour, has been developed and tested. The new model is more aerodynamic and faster than its predecessor.
For 32 years, The Shinkansen or bullet train, has been providing long distance rail transport throughout Japan. The trains are renowned for safe, high speed comfort. The current version of Shinkansen operates at a ceiling of 275 kilometres per hour. In 1990, West Japan Railway Company began research to develop the next generation model with cruising speeds well over 300. A full size test vehicle called "Win 350" was built. Test engineers were able to reduce noise pollution while still achieving a stable operating speed of 350 kilometres per hour.
Because Japan is so mountainous, there are numerous tunnels on the Shinkansen lines. When a high speed train enters a tunnel, an effect called "wind shock" can exert dangerous stresses upon the driving car and coaches. The blast of air also produces a loud noise out the far end of the tunnel. During the initial period of research and development, models were tested extensively in wind tunnels and a prototype was designed to resolve the problem of wind shock.
A device called a pantograph, or electricity collector, enables most electric trains to receive current from overhead lines. The problem is that at high speeds this frame whistles loudly in the air. Researchers found a natural aerodynamic design to minimize air disturbance - the staggered feather pattern of an owl's wing.
VS old bullet trains;
West Japan Railway Company computer graphics of new train;
Test Train WIN 350- people testing train;
vs testing train at speeds of 350 km/h;
Graphic showing shock waves when train enters tunnel;
Railway Technology Research Institute video of train models and design;
Computer graphics showing new aerodynamics of new bullet train;
VS new bullet train on tracks;
new train under construction;
Photographs of owl's wings;
new pantograoh design based on owl's wings;
Exteriors of new trains, showing doors and undercarriage;
Aerial of new train;
vs train being tested;
VS new bullet trains;
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