We Japanese are proud of our own railway technology. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, train departure times are predetermined in minutes, and if there is no problem, the train will depart on time. Recently, preparations have been made for the opening of a train called a linear motor car, which uses superconductivity and can run at speeds exceeding 500 km/h. The technology was developed at the institute, which I will introduce to you.
1. What is Railway Technical Research Institute?
The Railway Research Institute was established on December 10, 1986 and aims at comprehensive research and development and research related to railway technology and railway labor science. It has contributed to the development of railways and the improvement of culture.
The Railway Research Institute was founded by inheriting the research and development conducted by Japan National Railways. Here, we are developing innovative technologies and improving railway safety.
The technology is the most advanced in Japan. And it is playing an active part as a world leader in the railway world.
2. Where is the Institute?
Where is the facility you are just introducing? It is located in Kokubunji, Tokyo, the capital of Japan.
The nearest station is Kunitachi station.
It’s about 50 minutes from Tokyo station and about 7 minutes’ walk from the nearest station. The festival is held once a year, so if you are interested, please go.
3. Amazingly fast linear motor car.
One of the hottest topics in the train today is the linear motor car.
This is a wonderful train that can run at a high speed of 500km/h or more by lifting the car body by superconductivity to reduce friction with the tracks. The Railway Research Institute has been conducting research to implement this technology. In 1962, They started developing linear motors when he was still JNR.
In 1972, the ML-100 succeeded in surfacing for the first time.
And in 1979 the linear motor recorded 517km/h with an unmanned vehicle. This was the fastest in the world.
Finally, in 2003, the MLX01 recorded the world’s fastest speed of 581km/h in manned driving. This vehicle is designed for test rides and has a door and seats for when it is installed.
In this way, the linear motor car is steadily preparing for opening, and if it goes according to plan, it is scheduled to open in 2027.
4. New type, Fuel cell hybrid train.
A new type of train is being developed at the Railway Research Institute. It’s a train in the image below.
What do you think is the fuel for this train? It’s hydrogen energy. This train is for the future with the aim of saving energy and reducing the environmental burden. The Railway Research Institute is conducting a driving test of this fuel cell hybrid vehicle and is also taking measures to consider the global environment.
As mentioned earlier, the Railway Research Institute holds a festival once a year. The name of this festival is “HEIBEI FESTIVAL（平兵衛まつり）”. The name comes from the place where the Railway Research Institute was once called “Heibei Nitta”. This festival is held to let local people know what kind of research the Railway Research Institute is working on, and a lot of research contents are explained in the facility. This explanation is very easy to understand, and there are spaces and stalls where you can enjoy playing, so children and adults can enjoy it.
At this festival, you can take a fuel cell hybrid train, and there is also an experience corner where you can actually ride at the speed of about 40 km/h on the track inside the facility. There is a linear motor car testing machine inside the facility, and you can enter inside. Furthermore, in the building called “Hikari Plaza” near the entrance of the Railway Research Institute, the 0 series of old bullet train which is not used now is exhibited and you can actually enter inside.
There is no doubt that it will be a very meaningful time for those who are interested in railways. Why don’t you try it once?
JR 公益財団法人 鉄道総合技術研究所 < https://www.rtri.or.jp/>
鉄道ファン railf.jp < https://railf.jp/news/2013/10/14/173500.html>
光町と新幹線のはなし < http://www.city.kokubunji.tokyo.jp/machi/midokoro/1000430.html>