INTRO: Series 500 trains are poised to cut journey times on the Sanyo Shinkansen, but JR West’s long-term plans envisage high performance trains to replace Kodama services, and ultra-high-speed trainsBYLINE: Masataka IdePresident, West Japan Railway CoTHIS YEAR marks the 25th anniversary of the 161 km Sanyo Shinkansen which opened in 1972 between Shin Osaka and Okayama. From that date high speed trains largely replaced services over the 180 km conventional narrow gauge route between the two cities. Later, the line was extended from Okayama to Hakata, taking the total length from Shin Osaka to 554 km, compared to 645 km on the original narrow gauge route.Today, more than 200 trains a day use the line, and traffic has risen to 16 billion passenger-km a year. Accounting for 40% of JR West’s total traffic revenue, the Sanyo Shinkansen is a vital part of our network. The line runs through the western part of Japan forming a major artery linking several cities with over one million people – Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu and Fukuoka.The line has become established as a prime means of business, tourist and commuter travel. Much of it enjoys a straight alignment, permitting sustained high speed running, and around half of it runs in tunnel. Most of the open sections run through residential areas, and almost half the total track length is laid with slab track.The growth of air and road travel has made both increasingly serious competitors for the railway. Rail has 60% of the rail/air market between Shin Osaka and Hakata. For comparison, the ratio between Tokyo and Osaka, an equivalent distance, is 85% rail and 15% air. JR West has therefore been working to strengthen its competitiveness by raising operating speeds and improving service through the introduction of new trains such as the Series 100N and 300.300 km/h and beyondIn 1990 JR West established a project team with the goal of running at much higher speed by developing the Series 500 Shinkansen able to operate at over 300 km/h. Many factors had to be considered when increasing operating speed on the Sanyo Shinkansen – noise reduction, measures to reduce aerodynamic effects such as micropressure waves in tunnels, and better ride quality.JR West put major effort into research and development in these areas. Many new technologies were developed, making it possible to achieve an operating speed of 300 km/h while maintaining ride quality and paying heed to environmental concerns. The results of this research have been incorporated into the first Series 500 train which will start one or two daily round trips on the Sanyo line on March 22. Series 500 will reduce journey times between Shin Osaka and Hakata by a further 15min, to 2h 17min.Growing competitionSocial conditions in Japan are changing. The population is getting older, families are having fewer children and the rate of population growth is slowing. Improved airport facilities and deregulation are resulting in better air services. Bridges between the islands of Honshu and Shikoku are nearing completion, as is a highway through the Chugoku region, greatly expanding the road network in western Japan. All these factors can be expected to have a great impact on the railway’s ability to compete.JR West therefore needs to anticipate accurately the operating conditions the Sanyo Shinkansen will face in the future, and develop aggressive operational strategies that will give the company a lead over other modes.For long-distance direct travel on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen, JR West is working to provide more journey options where point-to-point travel times are less than 4h – high speed rail is competitive with air over this range.Series 500 trains travelling at 300 km/h will be taking over the Nozomi workings, which are the fastest services. Four trains are due to be in service by the autumn, starting direct services to Tokyo.Current plans are for a total of nine sets to be introduced, running at two hour intervals, and preparations are being made with JR Central to run Series 500 trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen as well.Trains with a top speed of 270 km/h made available by introduction of Series 500 will be transferred to Hikari services, replacing units capable of only 220 or 230 km/h.Using technology developed for the Series 500, we are working with JR Central on the development of the Series N300 train, which will be used on both the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen. Combining technology used in the Series 500 and JR Central’s Series 300X experimental train, Series N300 will be a high performance, low-cost train. A prototype is scheduled for completion in the autumn. JR West’s goal is to achieve operating speeds of 270 km/h or more for Series N300 trains, which is expected to improve the performance of direct services.Local services will also be speeded up, and we are working to improve operations to provide more flexible services, with more direct trains and better connections between local and express trains. Traffic volume declines gradually as it progresses further west, and JR West must work to ensure the most efficient operations by matching capacity closely to demand.As JR West works to improve its rail network, we are examining carefully all aspects of our operations, from equipment to management, including conventional lines connecting with the Sanyo Shinkansen.Kodama replacementSince inauguration of the line, Series 0 trains have been used for local Kodama services. This is another area where JR West is planning to develop a specialised Shinkansen train with better performance.Several factors must be taken into consideration. As the train will make frequent stops, high maximum speed, acceleration and deceleration will be essential so that it does not delay other trains. We aim to develop a short train with automatic couplings to provide efficient and flexible operations to different destinations. JR West aims to ensure that the train has low capital and operating costs.Ultra-high-speed trainJR West is also working to lift train speeds further in a continued effort to raise rail’s market share between Osaka and Hakata. Our goal is to offer a 2h timing by 2007, and we are already examining the feasibility of an ultra-high-speed train for use on the Sanyo Shinkansen.Many steps are being taken to improve train performance and achieve maximum operating speeds. These include revising the cross-section of the train body to improve aerodynamic performance, and greatly reducing body weight. JR West is also making excellent progress in the research and development of technology such as tilting trains for use on the Sanyo Shinkansen.Today’s Sanyo Shinkansen has been made possible by the support and patronage of all our customers. JR West will continue to respond to customers’ needs and work to refine further all areas of service. Our aim is for JR West and the Sanyo shinkansen to be chosen as the best means of transport in western Japan, both now and in the future. oKey factsn Sanyo shinkansen provides 40% of JR West revenuen Series 500 enters service at 300 km/h this monthn Kodama replacement train on the drawing boardn Ultra-high-speed train plannedCAPTION: Shinkansen trains on the Sanyo line. From left to right: Series 0, Series 100N, WIN350, Series 300, and Series 500CAPTION: Series 500 enters service on March 22 between Shin Osaka and Hakata, cutting fastest timings to 2h 17minIntroduction of Series 500 will allow Series 300 units to be cascaded on to Hikari duties, which will in due course be retimed to run at 270 km/h
Hodgson, who resigned after Monday’s game, repeatedly questioned why he had to attend a news conference yesterday.But he said: “One particularly bad game has caused a lot of damage to me personally and the team going forward.”Hodgson, 68, added: “We have a major bridge to repair – had we played better last night that might not need repairing.”England won just one of their four games at the tournament in France, qualifying second from their group behind Wales to reach the last 16, where they suffered the humiliating defeat by a nation with a population of just 330,000.Hodgson said there were no “magic answers” to explain England’s performance at the European Championship, where they also drew with Russia and Slovakia and beat Wales with a last-minute winner.Glenn did not rule out appointing a foreign manager as Hodgson’s successor, adding: “We are looking for the best person, not necessarily the best Englishman.”But he said the key thing to address was England’s regular failure, which has seen them reach only three semi-finals at a major tournament since they won the 1966 World Cup as hosts.“We need to punch our weight in tournaments in a way that we have not done in 50 years,” added Glenn.“When we get to the business end of a tournament, England seem brittle and we need to understand why that is.”Hodgson read a statement to announce his resignation after the Iceland game which he felt was “sufficient” – and four times during Tuesday’s news conference he said he should not need to face the media again.“I am still a little bit unsure what I’m doing here,” said the former Fulham, West Brom and Liverpool boss. ” I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows.”When BBC sports editor Dan Roan suggested Hodgson had been forced to attend, Hodgson replied: “I wasn’t forced to come. I was anxious to make certain no-one in this room can say I was worried to face the media.”Hodgson faced heavy criticism following the goalless draw against Slovakia for making six changes to the side that had beaten Wales, despite knowing a victory would mean England topped the group.He was also criticised for the tactic of having Tottenham striker Harry Kane take corners during the tournament and starting Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling against Iceland.During yesterday’s news conference, England captain Wayne Rooney released a statement saying reports the players had lost faith in Hodgson are “completely untrue”.When asked about the reports, Hodgson added: “If it was true, they disguised it very well from the players and coaching staff.”Glenn described the dressing room as a scene of “devastation and personal grief” after the defeat at the Allianz Riviera in Nice.He added: “Let’s scotch that one – it’s not about a lack of passion amongst our players.”England scored only four goals in four matches at Euro 2016 and Hodgson felt his side were not “ruthless” enough in France.He said: “We did not play well last night and I take full responsibility for that.“We showed signs of good football in the first three games, which gave us confidence, but last night we didn’t reproduce.“I’m disappointed. I didn’t see it coming. I had no indication that we were going to play that badly.”He added: “I’m sure those players will live up to expectations and one day I’m sure we’ll see England do well in a tournament – I’m hoping in 2018 [at the World Cup in Russia].“They have shown they are worthy of wearing an England shirt and they have shown myself and my coaches that in this tournament.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Former England manager Roy Hodgson ‘unhappy’ with England media callRoy Hodgson says England’s 2-1 loss to Iceland and exit from Euro 2016 will cause longer-term “damage” to the team.And Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said it is now “imperative” to find out why England are “brittle” at tournaments.