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Monday, June 23, 2014

Japan's New W7 & E7 Shinkansen Bullet Train

The West Japan Railway Co. decided to show off its new W7 Series Shinkansen train on June 22, 2014 at its train yard in Hakusan in Ishikawa-ken.

That's it in the photo above - though not from the open media day event.

Let's look at the W7... also known as the E7 EMU (electric multiple unit) - a designation that depends on whether it is owned by the West Japan Railway Company, or the East Japan Railway Company.

Perhaps the best way to note it is by the 7 Series.

This train, is based on the current E2 series of shinkansen - one known as the Nagano Shinkansen series, designed and built specifically to handle the mountainous areas of Japan - and the W7 will indeed replace the E2 for the soon to be completed extension of the Japanese high speed rail network of the current Nagano Shinkansen.

The soon-to-be completed section of the shinkansen network is to be called to Hokuriku Shinkansen (北陸新幹線), and when it is eventually completed, there will be a complete ringining of the main Honshu island of Japan.

This soon to be completed section of track known as the Hokuriku Shinkansen high-speed rail line will open next spring specifically between Nagano and Ishikawa’s Kanazawa - it will extend the existing Nagano Shinkansen Line.

I know it's a bit confusing, BUT:

The Hokuriku Shinkansesn will consist of 4 sections:

1) 1st section called the the Nagano Shinkansen, was opened on October 1, 1997 linking Takasaki and Nagano.

2) 2nd section - isn't quite complete, as it WILL link from Nagano to Kanazawa - scheduled top open on March 2015.

3) 3rd section - only recently begun construction of in 2012 - is supposed to be completed by 2025 - yes, in 11 more years. It will link from Kanazawa to Tsuruga.

4) 4th section - still being debated - will go from Tsuruga to Maibara or Kyoto or Osaka.

There other sections, however: 

5) 5th section - previously completed along the southern coast of Japan - is the Tokaido Shinkansen line, which will go from any of those three stations in point #4 to Tokyo.

6) 6th section - also previously completed as part of the Joetsu Shinkansen line, links from Tokyo up through the starting point of Takasaki.

7) Not related to this ring, but related to the whole train system, is the Tohoku Shinkansen line that runs along (essentially) along the east coast of Japan from Tokyo up to the top of the main Honshu island stopping at Aomori.

8) Not related still, the Akita Shinkansen line goes east west from Morioka to Akita.

9) Still unrelated, but what the hell, from the Osaka/Kyoto area out west to the west coast of Fukuoka, the Sanyo Shinkansen line runs.

There are a few more shinkansen lines... but really... for OUR PURPOSES today, we are talking about a loop around central Japan, and thus points #1-6 are key.

Got it? Good. It is a bit confusing, but hopefully, these maps will will help.

Back to the original story - about the unveiling of the new shinkansen bullet train that will be running on that 2nd section (point #2 above) - the W7 series.

The W7 trains have a TOP speed of 275-kph (170-mph), but...
  • it will run at a maximum speed of 260-kph (160-mph) on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line;
  • will run at 240-kph (150-mph) on the Joetsu Shinkansen tracks between Omiya and Takasaki;
  • and will run at 110-kph (70-mph) on the Tohoku Shinkansen tracks between Tokyo and Omiya;
  • for the steeper grades, the train can maintain increased power output to attain speeds of around 210-kph (130-mph).
The trains known as the Gran Class passenger cars (no, I did not forget the "D") is equipped with full active suspension, and the other cars are equipped with semi-active suspension. The active suspension uses separate actuators which can exert an independent force on the suspension to improve the riding characteristics. The drawbacks of this design are high cost, added complication/mass of the apparatus, and the need for rather frequent maintenance on some implementations.

From what I have read, this W7 shinkansen train will operate on electricity via an overhead catenary at 25 kV AC, 50/60Hz. (see below for more on this).

This new W7 train will actually begin test runs in August of 2014, on a section of track between Kanazawa and Kurobe-Unazukionesen on the Hokuriku Shinkansn line.

The trains look lovely... nice streamlined shape (d'uh) with blue and copper lines along the body.

The passenger train interior is more or less typical Japanese style, though I can state that there will be a 'gran-class' car with a red lacquer-like design that will contain seats wider than in other cars so fat cats can have extra space to place the same bento food boxes purchased like everyone else at the local train station.

The W7 trains (and E7 trains) will consist of 10 12-car sets - that's 120 vehicles - all on order.

The first W7 (and the one shown to the media) and known as W1 was actually delivered in April of 2014 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., with the second one (W2) arriving in May 2014 from Hitachi Ltd. (see below for more information)

The W7 (E7) design has the traditional Japanese stylings, mixed with futuristic stylings and was overseen by industrial designer Okuyama Kenichi (surname first) and by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Outside, the roof is sky blue in color; the body sides are ivory white with copper and sky blue lines.

Manufacture of the W7 series of trains is to be shared by:
  • Hitachi Ltd. (株式会社日立製作所 Kabushiki-gaisha Hitachi Seisakusho) at its facility in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi-ken;
  • Kawasaki (川崎重工業株式会社 Kawasaki Jūkōgyō Kabushiki-gaisha) at its facility in Kobe; 
  • The Kinki Sharyo Co., Ltd. (近畿車輛株式会社 Kinki Sharyō Kabushiki-gaisha - an affiliate of the Kintetsu Corporation) in Osaka. 
Each train consists of two non-powered trailer end cars, with the remaining 10 cars being motored.

Car 1 - Trailer Car, can hold 50 people, has toilets;
Car 2 - Motored Car, can hold 100 people;
Car 3 - Motored Car, can hold 85 people, has toilets and phone;
Car 4 - Motored Car, can hold 100 people;
Car 5 - Motored Car, can hold 85 people, has toilets;
Car 6 - Motored Car, can hold 90 people;
Car 7 - Motored Car, can hold 58 people; with phone, wheelchair space and wheelchair accessible toilet;
Car 8 - Motored Car, can hold 100 people;
Car 9 - Motored Car, can hold 85 people; has toilets;
Car 10 - Motored Car, can hold 100 people;
Car 11 - Motored Car, can hold 85 people; wheelchair space and wheelchair accessible toilet;
Car 12 - Trailer Car, can hold 18 people, has toilets.

Car #11 - the Green Car, is the First Class passenger car, while Car #12 is the so-called Gran Class luxury car. The rest of the cars are considered Standard cars - you know, the type you and can ride in.

Standard cars are arranged, seating-wise as 3+2 abreast with a seat pitch of 1,040mm (41-inches).
Image from an E7 series - Standard car seating  - from

Green car seating is 2 + 2 abreast with a seat pitch of 1,160mm (46-inches).
Image from an E7 series - Green car seating  - from
Gran car seating is 2+1 abreast, with seat pitch of 1,300mm (51-inches).
Image from an E7 series - Gran class car seating  - from

Is it just me, but does it not look like it's a tight squeeze in the Gran Class for anyone with an ass decidedly NOT Japanese flat? I do like the separate arm rests so one does not have to come close to touching anyone else... except if they are walking by and you are unlucky enough to be in the aisle seat. 

There will be AC power outlets available in all three classes.

Lastly, cars # 3 and #7 on the exterior roof, will have a single-arm pantograph, which is an apparatus used to collect power via an overhead catenary wire, with the return current running through the track.

Well... that's all for now... lots of data for you that, as usual, was not all in one place, but with this blog, is now.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Tnx, @ASJ47! Keep us posted. And if you learn any more of this luxury Shinkansen coming to reality, let us know:

  2. Interesting - so I'll be able to travel by Shinkansen next year all the way from Tokyo to Toyama where I taught English conversation at Toyama Chubu High School in the 1960s.

    1. You taught the Japanese English back in the 60s? How did that come about? For how long? How was it for you? Back then, I suppose being a foreigner (I only assume you are a foreigner), you must have been very rare!
      I was called a gaijin so often, but truthfully, I knew it wasn't said in a disrespectful way... and so it didn't bother me as much as it bothered others... but how about you, Lesdh68? It would seem as though you might have a few tales to tell... fell free! I've had guest bloggers before!