According to The Asahi Shimbun, as the “bullet train” rumbled on, I could feel the shaking of the car and see the “landscape” flying across the window pane.
With low-rise buildings dotting a vast campus over 73 hectares of land, the Komaki Research Centre of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) has been the cradle of technologies that underlie the safety and comfort of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
During a tour in early March, media representatives were allowed to ride a vehicle dynamic simulator designed to test for comfort in a passenger cabin.
A model cabin, which measures 3.1 meters long, 3.4 meters wide and 2.2 meters tall, is supported from below by arms that move in the six directions of front, back, up, down, right and left to reproduce the roll, pitch and tilt of a train car. The cabin has only 15 seats, in three rows of five seats each.
“We want to know, for example, the best timing and the best angle for tilting a car body along a curve to ensure maximum passenger comfort,” said Masahito Adachi, 49, manager of the centre’s high-speed technology team. “Repeated tests help shorten the development period.”
The Komaki Research Centre, which opened in 2002, has helped develop rolling stock of the N700 series and the N700A model, both being in active service.
A new model, the N700S, will be introduced in fiscal 2020. The vibration control technology for its green (first-class) cars, as well as the shape of its lead car, which reduces air resistance, are the fruits of a series of experiments conducted at this facility.
The low-noise wind tunnel is designed for testing air resistance and noise of a train car that travels at high speeds. Its 72-meter-long wind channel can create winds of 350 kph, which exceeds the actual travel velocity of Tokaido Shinkansen trains.
In a demonstration test, a pair of “horns,” or components at both sides of a pantograph, were exposed to winds of 200 kph. Horns with no holes produced louder wind howls than those with a large number of small perforations.
Perforated horns have been used in trains of the N700 series, which entered into service in 2007, and in later models.
Workers at the centre, which had 125 staffers as of March 1, have also helped produce screen doors for Shinkansen station platforms, earthquake derailment prevention guards and sensors for detecting a rise in undercarriage temperatures.
“We are so proud that we have worked as one with railroad workers on the front lines to make fine products,” said Toshio Otake, 62, general manager of JR Tokai’s Technology Research and Development Department, who is responsible for the centre.
“We hope to contribute to making our operations safer and more reasonable ahead of times when there will be fewer and fewer workers.”
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