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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shinkansen Supreme

When I think of "Supreme" I tend to think of fashion accessories... The Supremes music group... a Taco Bell product... but now I suppose I'll have to think of shinkansen (bullet trains) made in Japan for Japan.

Earlier this week, Central Japan Railroad Co. (JR Central) rolled out its newest shinkansen, the Shinkansen N700S, aka the Shinkansen Supreme.

That's all well and good as far as it's nickname goes, but it leaves very little, if any, room for improvement.

While test trains will begin running later this month, the Shinkansen Supreme is expected to be put into full service in 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

Back in 1964 when Tokyo last had the Olympics, it debuted the first shinkansen.. the first true high-speed bullet train... just in time for the world to have a look-see.

Shinkansen Supreme Green Cars (First Class) with superior leg room.
The Shinkansen Supreme will run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka... though the company does hope that its train will attract foreign buyers, too.

Compared to the more square N700A series, which entered service in 2013, the new Supreme series will have a curvier head profile, featuring a sharper nose called the Dual Supreme Wind (a silly name considering it is causing the wind to flow over it), which will better reduce noise when entering tunnels and lessen air resistance.

That front end (see image at top) kindda makes it look like a duck... or a platypus.

Does anyone else wonder what happened to N700B thru N700R series? I do. But I don't have an answer.

Thanks to the Dual Supreme Wind profile, less air resistance means better "fuel" economy, faster speeds and thus shorter travel times.

Shinkansen Supreme - regular class seating.
If the Shinkansen Supreme utilizes the 16-car variation (it can also run as a 12-car variant) , it will be 11 tons (22,000 pounds/ 9,979 kilograms) lighter than the previous generation's N700A series.

The lower weight is achieved, in part, from use of a silicon carbide material on the semiconductors, as well as from use of a natural air cooling system.

Sleeker, lighter and with better fuel consumption, the Supreme also has a better braking system enabling it to stop quicker and smoother, though I personally never felt that was an issue, even on the bullet trains I traveled on back in the early 1990s. Stopping power was superb then, but I trust that with the Supreme's new system it is even safer with a quicker response time should a cow somehow wander onto the tracks conveniently located some 50 feet (15.24 meters) overhead.

And, while I have postulated that the sleeker, lighter train would allow it to travel faster, I was wrong. The railway company has capped its top speed at 300 kilometers (186.411 miles) per hour, as all the other shinkansen can travel at... perhaps for safety reasons... maybe the rails aren't equipped to handle anything more for long journeys multiple times a day.

Still... the importance here is its greener aspect of requiring less fuel.

As for the passenger seating, there are some nice updates:
  • More leg room - 15% - in the special Green Cars (aka First Class);
  • Smoother reclining of the seats;
  • Each seat will have its own power sockets... but only for electronic devices, so I don't think you can plug in a toaster or electric blanket, but you can plug in your phone... so I suppose that's cool.
All seating aboard the Shinkansen Supreme will allow you to get a charge out of it, with an outlet to plug your digital device into. It's a nice touch!
 And, with apologies to The Supremes, while you can't hurry love, you can hurry to Osaka.

Andrew Joseph

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