posted on 3rd Mar 2023 09:52
On 24 February at the depot in Rifu (east of Sendai), JR East presented the first seven-car Class E8 EMU for the Yamagata Shinkansen, the type announced in 2020. The Yamagata Shinkansen is so-called the Mini Shinkansen, because it is a regauged former 1,067 mm line, which requires Shinkansen EMUs with a reduced loading gauge (bodyshell width of 2,945 mm instead 3,350 mm of a normal Shinkansen train, the cars are also shorter with 20 m in length instead of 25 m).
On the Yamaga (Mini)Shinkansen branch line, the speed is limited to 130 km/h. The line branches from the Tohoku Shinkansen high-speed line at Fukushima. From Fukushima to Tokyo the E8s can run up to 300 km/h. The maximum speed of the train is lower than the maximum speed on the line, which is 320 km/h, but the distance which E8s will run on the Shinkansen HSL at high speed is quite short, 163 km between Utsunomia and Fukushima.
The cars are numbered 11 to 17 because E8s will mainly run in formation with ten-car Class E5 EMUs on the Tokyo-Fukushima section of Tohoku Shinkasen. The wide gaps between the platforms and the car at the stations on HSL are bridged by retractable steps mounted under each door of the train. The 9 m long nose of the train is aerodynamically optimised to reduce noise at high speeds. The EMU is designed to cope with the enormous amount of snow on the line through the mountains to Yamagata. The E8s are to replace the (remaining) Class E3 Shinkansens with a top speed of 275 km/h.
Each E8 unit consists of five powered intermediate cars and two non-powered end cars. It offers 329 seats in "normal class" (second class) and 26 seats in "green class" (first class). The train has a 1,435 mm track gauge and can use 25 kV 50 Hz supply on the Tohoku Shinkansen HSL and 20 kV 50 Hz on the Fukushima - Shinjo section. Pantographs are located on cars 12 and 16.
The first train was delivered to Sendai on 30 January 2023 by sea. Test operation on Shinkansen lines began on 27 February. The Class E8 is expected to enter commercial service on the Yamagata Shinkansen from spring 2024.