JR East conducted test runs of the 10 car ALFA-X at speeds of about 360 km/h to collect data for development of next gen shinkansen
On October 27, 2020, test runs of the next-gen bullet train ALFA-X broke all previous records by other bullet trains. The ALFA-X attained a top speed of 382 km/h while the current speed record held by a Shinkansen bullet train is at 320 km/h.
The test run was conducted between Sendai and Morioka stations. The Test Train left Sendai Station in Miyagi Prefecture with media at 11:38 pm enroute to Morioka Station in Iwate Prefecture.
It went from Sendai and Morioka stations in around 40 minutes, a trip that usually takes an hour and 15 minutes. The test run was conducted without any passengers so as to collect data for developing Japan’s next gen bullet trains.
ALFA-X attained a top speed of 382 km/h near the Ichinoseki Station in Iwate Prefecture. This caused the train to vibrate slightly, and noise to increase at speeds of 360 km/h, wind noise and noise from the train motors could be heard as the train approached 380 km/h.
However, the ride was as comfortable when compared to any other Shinkansen trains currently in service. Of better comfort, the ALFA-X has been fitted with an improved damper to minimize both horizontal and vertical vibrations.
Aerodynamic Braking System
ALFA-X, short for Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation, consists of 10 cars. The two end cars are shaped differently so that wind pressure can be compared. Car No. 10 is the foremost when the train travels North and is marked by a 72-foot (22-meter) nose section. Car No.1 at the other end gets a 52-foot (16-meter) nose section. The train receives aerodynamic braking system installed on the roof for better braking performance while the train decelerates via an electromagnetic resistance.
This project is being conducted alongside JR East’s Change 2027 Program, under which the railways are seeking to develop high speed new generation of trains for commercial operation at 360 km/h.
For this, several noise protection measures are being developed with double track tunnels as higher speeds result in increased pressure waves on tunnel walls while sonic boom effects at the portals along with increased noise from passing trains also has an effect.
The walls along the 1.3 km route will also be further strengthened with sound absorbing material while existing walls will be raised on the further 3.6 km route. The hoods of the 24 tunnels will be designed to defuse pressure waves and also to mitigate sonic booms.
Once the ALFA-X enters operation sometime around 2030, it will be the world’s fastest bullet train. It will outpace China’s Fuxing train, which runs at 10 km/h slower despite the fact that it is designed with same top speed capabilities as Japan’s ALFA-X.