Japan's newest Shinkansen bullet train model — called the N700S — entered service today in its maiden journey from Tokyo to Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
The new model offers improved performance, in addition to an upgraded cabin for added comfort. Railway fans congregated at the JR Tokyo Station to see the new model's debut, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
The N700 'Supreme'
The N700S series — the S stands for "Supreme" — is the first fully-remodeled Tokaido Shinkansen train seen for 13 years. It's also the world's first high-speed train that can switch to back-up battery systems if the supporting energy infrastructure fails.
The first N700S departed Tokyo Station at 6:00 AM, local time, following the "all-go" signal from stationmaster Takeshi Matsuki, reports Kyodo News.
"I am confident this is the best shinkansen in every respect — safety, stability, and comfort," said President of Central Japan Railway Co. Shin Kaneko during a ceremony affirming the train's historic debut.
The N700S series is set to run on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Tokyo and Osaka, as well as on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line that extends to Hakata Station in Kyushu.
Safer, more comfortable passenger experience
Amongst the slew of improvements for the N700S are safety features, including lithium-ion batteries that allow the train to continue to the closest station using local, self-generated power in case of electrical outage in the larger transportation infrastructure.
Following several deaths and injuries associated with Japan's bullet train system, JR Central made sure to install additional security cameras on the N700S model, to foster higher visibility and more efficient collision detection.
For the comfort of passengers, there will be improved reclining functionality in addition to an electrical outlet at every seat. The overhead luggage compartment will also light up as the train approaches stations, to remind passengers to take their belongings.
The model update comes on the heels of an unprecedented drop in passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But JR Central no doubt hopes to be carrying many passengers on the new high-speed model for years to come.