N700A Shinkansen Trains Win Eco-Products Award


Rail Update Japan

~ Higher Speed, But Lower Power Consumption ~

19% Less Power Than 700 Series Trains

On November 26, 2014, Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) reported that its N700A Shinkansen railcars had won the 11th Eco-Products Grand Prize (Japanese government's Prize) in the eco-service category. N700A series trains are the newest on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines (Tokyo - Shin-Osaka - Hakata). They began passenger services in February 2013.

Eco-product awards for products and services have been presented since 2004 to salute advances that protect the environment, to spread information on those efforts, to support the companies, and to encourage further development and use.

The 11th Eco-Product Awards were sponsored by the Eco-Products Award Promotion Council with the support of the Japanese government. The award for the new N700A praised its development and launch, and commended it for considerably reducing the ecological footprint of Shinkansen operations.

JR Central says the award will spur it to further efforts to reduce the environmental load of its operations. The company points to the following eco-friendly N700A features:
Lower energy consumption — the railcar design, while based on that of the N700, introduces the latest technologies for greater safety, reliability, rider comfort and environmental protection.
The trains use 19% less power than the 700 series, which is to be withdrawn from service.
Their power converters, which control the motors, are smaller and lighter.
The lights for the lavatories and freshening-up cubicles use LEDs, and consume about 20% less electricity compared with the N700.
The seat cushion material is 100% recyclable.

Half the energy consumption of the original 0 series Shinkansen trains

The Shinkansen started passenger services on October 1, 1964, a good 50 years ago. Back then, maximum speed was 210 km/h, quite a bit less than now. But unlike improvements in external appearance and scheduling, its advances in energy conservation are less well known.

JR Central statistics show that, if the power consumption of the original 0 series trains running at 220 km/h is given a value of 100, the consumption of subsequently introduced trains drops step by step, with the 300 series coming in at 73, the 700 series at 66, and the N700 series at around half, at 51. (The maximum speed of the 0 series trains, which are no longer in service, was 220 km/h.) Today the Tokaido Shinkansen’s maximum speed is 270 km/h, but even at that speed the trains use less energy than the 0 series running at its maximum speed of 220 km/h.

With an energy consumption base value of 100 for 0 series train running at 220 km/h, later trains running at their maximum speed (270 km/h) have values of 91 (300 series), 84 (700 series), and 68 (N700 series). So while maximum speed is 50 km/h higher, power consumption is substantially lower. (The 300 was introduced in 1992 and withdrawn from service in 2012. The 700 debuted in 1999.)

There are two types of N700A trains: newly manufactured ones, and existing N700 cars modified to meet N700A specs. At a glance the exteriors look just about the same, but rail buffs will tell you how they differ: just look at the logo on the sides. The logo with a large “A” indicates the newly manufactured N700A, while a small “A” is for the older, modified N700. Other details, such as the lights on the end cars and the compartment seats, also help solve this little puzzle.

This article appeared in the YAHOO! JAPAN news on Wednesday, November 26, 2014. We thank the publisher, mediavague Co., Ltd., for granting us permission to present the article in translation.


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