23 of the trains are scheduled for production in fiscal 2007, increasing to 54 in fiscal 2009. How fast are they? Shinkansen trains are already fast and these are only a little more so on the slower runs. Reaching 270 kph, which thanks to tilting in turns can be maintained even on curves, they will shave 5 minutes off the Tokaido section between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. West of Shin-Osaka they open up and reach top speeds of 300 kph (186 mph) as they head for Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. The fastest Shinkansen trains have been running at up to 300 kph since 1997, so speed is not the story with the new train.
The new N700 features aerodynamics which make it even quieter for the passengers and the surroundings (and help to hold it to the track at high speeds). They claim it will offer "an even more comfortable interior space". K and I have taken various Shikansen trains over the years and they all offer amazingly smooth, quiet rides, so it's hard to imagine an improvement. The seating is 5 across with aircraft style reclining seats but with lots of leg room. (Seat pitch is 41 inches compared to most US airlines at 32 inches). Green cars, an upgrade, have 4 across seating and business class style seats. The new seats will be wider.
Tray tables will be larger to accomodate computers, outlets for mobile devices will be provided for all green car seats and all window seats in regular cars. High speed internet will be provided as well. All seats will be non-smoking.
Speed and comfort aren't the only games in town on a resource scarce planet. These trains will use 20 percent less power than the present 700 series trains - an amazing leap in efficiency, and that is the really big news.
We're planning a trip to Hiroshima for later in the year and with the N700s entering service this summer, I'm hoping we'll get lucky and be able to check it out first hand.
Take an early morning ride in the cab of an "old" Series 500 train (manufactured 1996-1998) as it accelerates to 300 kph going from Hakata then comes to a stop at Kokura. Not terribly exciting, perhaps, but then it isn't supposed to be, is it? This video has English subtitles - sort of.