Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central) started the commercial operations of its N700S bullet train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line on Wednesday.
The N700S is the first all-new Tokaido Shinkansen train in 13 years. It offers improved functions for passenger seats, with a power outlet installed at every seat, among other features.
The number of N700S trains in operation will increase to 40 by fiscal 2022 from an initial four.
Indirect lighting inside N700S train cars creates a relaxed atmosphere while the seat and backrest move together when reclining to help passengers rest during long rides, according to JR Central officials.
The N700S is quieter and does not vibrate as much as previous Tokaido Shinkansen models, the officials said. To prevent passengers from leaving their belongings behind, overhead baggage racks light up when trains arrive at a station.
The new model is equipped with improved functions for dealing with emergency situations. The trains have lithium-ion batteries that enable them to travel to the nearest evacuation area along the tracks when a power outage occurs due to a natural disaster.
Each car is furnished with four or six security cameras, up from two for conventional Tokaido Shinkansen train cars.
A ceremony to mark the departure of the first N700S train was held at Tokyo Station, with JR Central President Shin Kaneko among the participants.
The N700S is “full of our technological achievements,” Kaneko said. “I’m sure passengers will feel comfortable to take a ride on the train,” he added.
Rail enthusiasts and reporters rushed to take pictures of the first train as it left the station at 6 a.m. for Hakata Station in Kyushu’s Fukuoka Prefecture.
“I want the N700S to thrive because it is a shinkansen that serves the next generation,” a 20-year-old male university student from Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward said excitedly before his ride on the first train.
The Tokaido Shinkansen line links Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture. It seamlessly connects to the Sanyo Shinkansen line, which extends to Hakata from Shin-Osaka.