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why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/14 02:04
I'm posting a new topic here. I've already posted a topic about Shinkansen but this one doesn't deal with the same question.

Why are there so many models of Shinkansen ??

Shinkansen: 0series, 500, 300, E5, E6, 700, N700, E4, .....
there are at least 20 different models.

It makes me curious; because I live in France and the french bullet train, the TGV, has only two different models of trains. The first one was released in the 80's (and is still used today because it works well) and the second one, more modern, from the 90's. The train-maker Alstom builds only two types of TGV trains simply because they are rational and know that it costs too much to develop dozens of models..

Same with other countries like Germany; Siemens has one or two models of ICE bullet train, they know as well that it would be useless to develop more..


So why Hitachi, the builder of Shinkansen, has developed at least 20 different models for its bullet train ???
It costs an eye and an arm !
That's not rational!

Moreover Hitachi doesn't export its trains overseas. That is really strange..

Any explanation?

maybe... just an aesthetic purpose ..
by izquierda (guest)  

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/14 14:44
Why are there so many models of Shinkansen ??

The short answer: technology has improved over the 50+ years that the shinkansen have been in service. In contrast, the French and German high speed rail systems are significantly newer.

The long answer: Japan has 4 separate companies that operate high speed rail (5 if you count JR Hokkaido, which is still deploying their network), each with its own needs and design constraints. As a result, different companies and different lines require different train sets (its very similar with TGV in France for example). Also, the train sets are replaced with new ones every decade or so as technology improves and the older ones relegated to less prestigious services, i.e. nozomi to hikari to kodama. Again, generally the same thing happens in other countries that are operating high speed rail.

It makes me curious; because I live in France and the french bullet train, the TGV, has only two different models of trains. The first one was released in the 80's (and is still used today because it works well) and the second one, more modern, from the 90's. The train-maker Alstom builds only two types of TGV trains simply because they are rational and know that it costs too much to develop dozens of models..

Same with other countries like Germany; Siemens has one or two models of ICE bullet train, they know as well that it would be useless to develop more..


Your comparisons and assumptions are simply not correct. I suggest you do a little more research into the european high speed rail networks as it looks like TGV has significantly more than 2 train sets over the last 30 years, while ICE has also had more than just two models in 20 years. Both networks appear to update their train sets on similar schedules as Japanese trains.

So why Hitachi, the builder of Shinkansen, has developed at least 20 different models for its bullet train ???

The shinkansen were developed by many different companies including Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo, etc. over the course of over 50 years! But they don't add up to 20 different models unless you are also counting experimental trains.

It costs an eye and an arm !
That's not rational!


If businesses didn't make a return on their R+D then they wouldn't be in business for long. The train manufacturers have definitely made their money back in spades.

Moreover Hitachi doesn't export its trains overseas. That is really strange..

Are you sure about that? A quick google search says otherwise.

Any explanation?

maybe... just an aesthetic purpose ..


I think it's partially pride (each company wants to run their own trains), but the fact that you have 4 different companies pretty much already guarantees that you'll have more trains in Japan than in other countries that have single operators.

Just some general advice, and don't take this the wrong way, but some of your recent questions seem to stem from a general misunderstanding of the Japanese topic at hand further compounded by a misunderstanding of the European thing that you are comparing to. A little bit more research on your part will probably go a long way to alleviating this. And to be honest, I find the way that you ask some of your questions comes off as a little ethnocentric. Its kind of distracting and something I think you should pay more attention to.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/14 14:54
Actually there are SEVEN types of TGV.

From Wikipedia:
SNCF TGV Sud-Est (passengers) and TGV La Poste (freight),
SNCF TGV Atlantique (10 carriages)
SNCF TGV Réseau (similar to Atlantique, but 8 carriages)
Eurostar/SNCF TGV TMST (Three Capitals and North of London),
SNCF TGV Duplex (two floors for greater passenger capacity),
Thalys PBA and PBKA (Benelux countries, derived from Réseau and Duplex respectively),
SNCF TGV POS (Paris-Ostfrankreich-Süddeutschland, or Paris-Eastern France-Southern Germany).
and #8: SNCF TGV 2N2 (upgrade of Duplex)

They are different in length, number of carriages and passengers but also type of motors etc.
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/14 21:10
Same with other countries like Germany; Siemens has one or two models of ICE bullet train, they know as well that it would be useless to develop more..[/

Have you ever driven in an ICE? Also, have you driven in any shinkansen?

If you have used both, then you'd know how much the ICE trains could be improved. There is soooo much that can be improved in an ICE train, it's not even funny anymore.

Can't compare it with the TGV, as I haven't ridden that one.

And just to nitpick, there are 7 or 8 (depending if you count the two tilting capable models as one or two) ICE models. Starting in 2016, there will be another new model (production started already)
by fatgermanbloke rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 03:46
Maybe he thinks the ICE and TGV are all the same models because because, from the outside, they looks almost identical, and the shinkansen, even from the outside, looks very different (500n vs E2n vs 400n, etc)
by kyon (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 04:39
"Actually there are SEVEN types of TGV."

Nope there are only two models. The differences between those seven TGVs are just details, like painting color, number of wagons, max speed limit.

If we focus on the models, you'll see that there are only 2 models.

True, all don't have the same engine model. But my question about Shinkansen was "why are there so many different models" : I mean, the exterior looking. The locomotive.
There are at least 20 different models of LOCOMOTIVES. That's why it seems strange to my eyes


by izquierda (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 04:50
@yllwsmrf:

that's not about ethnocentry. I never said that Japanese train system was foolish. I GUESS they had the reasons to build so many models. There is always a reason. I just expressed my uncomprehension about that.


And I was talking about the shape of the train, not its engine system. So, yes, there are only TWO models of TGV, focusing on the exterior looking.

okay here is a link. It will explain better than words. Just focus on the pictures in the right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_high-speed_trains

look at ICE models and TGV models. You'll understand.
by izquierda (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 05:26
Even if you group the similar models of TGV together, there are basically 4 different series:
- Sud-Est
- Atlantique
- Duplex
- Eurostar

In Germany, there are 5 different ICE's in service:
- ICE-1
- ICE-2
- ICE-3
- ICE-T
- ICE-TD

So that adds op to a total of nine for those two countries combined. And besides those real high speed trains, both the DB and the SNCF use locomotive pulled 200 km/h trains.

In Japan, there are currently 9 types of shinkansen in service, for 4 different railway companies, in a country in many aspects about comparable with Germany and France combined. So in fact not that different.

The biggest difference is that in Japan, trains are being replaced rather than being refurbished over and over again. Look at the 300, the 400 and the E1, all introduced in the early '90s, but already retired. Not because they were decrepit (like many trains here in Europe while still in service are), but because they were outdated. Here in Europe we start thinking of replacing something when it breaks down too often, in Japan they replace stuff before it starts breaking down.

But I think there's also another aspect: the role of railways in the country. In Japan, the railways are more than just a mode of transport. Design a new train, and people will travel. I mean, during my last trip I bought a bottle of E6 "Super Komachi" beer at a conbini, in a city that doesn't even have a shinkansen station (Yamagata)...

In Europe, trains had a similar attraction tens of years ago, just look at the old advertisements of the DB or the TEE in the sixties and seventies, using the newest train designs like the DB 103 to attract people. But somehow this attraction was lost somewhere along the line, nowadays most people just travel by train when it's practical, but most prefer the car or for longer distances a flight. The train isn't part of the travel anymore, its just a way to get to your destination.
by WizardOfOss rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 05:33
I have to correct myself, Yamagata of course does have a shinkansen station, it even got a whole line named after the city. But since I got there from Sendai, I didn't use it and therefore forgot about it.
by WizardOfOss rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 14:26
Nope there are only two models. The differences between those seven TGVs are just details, like painting color, number of wagons, max speed limit.

If we focus on the models, you'll see that there are only 2 models.

And I was talking about the shape of the train, not its engine system. So, yes, there are only TWO models of TGV, focusing on the exterior looking.


Well its hard to explain things to you if you want reduce the European trains to exterior body designs but expand the Shinkansen to include all discontinued and experimental variations. You cannot compare two systems in that way.

There are at least 20 different models of LOCOMOTIVES. That's why it seems strange to my eyes

I'm still not sure where you keep getting 20 different models (btw, shinkansen don't have locomotives). I count 8 active train sets and 15 total models that have been put into service.

But the main point to remember is that Japan's network is way bigger, way older, and made up of independent, PRIVATE companies. In that situation you should probably EXPECT there be more train sets.

that's not about ethnocentry. I never said that Japanese train system was foolish.

I realize you're probably not trying to sound ethnocentric, but that is how your questions come off (and its not just limited to this thread). Take it or leave it, I'm just letting you know how you are being perceived in your threads.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 14:52
Izquerdia, I didn't wanted to mention it before, but I agree with "yllwsmrf".. All your posts, so far, show a lack of maturity, not to mention a limited knowledge of whatever topic you are trying to discuss.

As a French person myself, I am embarrassed to read your posts..

Have you even bothered to check Wikipedia about the TGV?
"Future TGVs:
SNCF and Alstom are investigating new technology that could be used for high-speed transport. The development of TGV trains is being pursued in the form of the Automotrice à grande vitesse (AGV) high-speed multiple unit with motors under each carriage. Investigations are being carried out with the aim of producing trains at the same cost as TGVs with the same safety standards.

AGVs of the same length as TGVs could have up to 450 seats. The target speed is 360 kilometres per hour (220 mph). The prototype AGV was unveiled by Alstom on 5 February 2008.
In the short term, plans are being considered to increase the capacity of TGVs by 10% by replacing the central two power cars of a double TGV with passenger carriages. These carriages would have motorized bogies, as do the first and last carriage of the train, to make up for the lost power"
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 15:13
I think the following are the main reasons:

1) Japan is the much bigger market. It has four times as many companies operating high speed railways vs. France or Germany. About three times more passengers are transported in Japan than in France. The revenues are much higher, as well. Each company builds its own train sets for its own needs, although they also often cooperate.

2) Different needs by different companies. Northern Japan, for example, needs trains that can operate in deep snow. Southern Japan does not. On some lines, high speed is a high priority (e.g. E5/E6 on the Tohoku Shinkansen were built to reduce the noise of entering tunnels at 320 km/h). On others, it does not make financial sense to build super-high speed tracks (e.g. E7/W7 was specifically designed to best fit the needs of the Hokuriku Shinkansen). JR East needs to deal with large numbers of commuters from the suburbs (hence the E1 and E4), while the other companies do less so. JR East also requires narrower train sets for the Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen (E3, E6) because these tracks were not specifically built for the shinkansen. etc. etc.

3) Rapid technological improvement in terms of energy efficiency, rider comfort and safety (e.g. earthquakes) in combination with high expectations of the society in terms of comfort and safety and fierce competition between air and train on many routes. Train sets and their design and comfort features can be an attraction in themselves, creating more ridership, as shown particularly well by JR Kyushu.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 18:13
@WizardOfOSS:

well I have to admit it, your explanation enlightened me enough. Probably you're right, mentality about trains isn't the same in Japan. In Europe it's just a mode of transport. And yes I agree trains are replaced too late in Europe.
Japan is known for the quality of its services afterall.


@yllwsmrf:
on the Wikipedia page they didn't include all the Shinkansen trains. Just look at the train picture on the upper main page of JapanGuide. This one isn't included. That's just an example.


@Red Frog:
Until now AGV is a commercial failure, only one company bought it and it's even not French: Italo, an Italian company.
SNCF said it won't replace its TGV's before a long time. I didn't write this topic as a tourist: I DO have the knowledge, believe me.

You won't see an AGV in France between a long time.


@Uji: but E5 and E6 is precisely something I don't get: E5 was developed in 2011, and E6 in 2013. Only two years of distance between those two developments? Couldn't they use the structure of the E5 to make the E6 ?
by izquierda (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 18:42
The E5 and E6 are actually related, but they serve a different purpose: while the E5 is designed for the main lines specifically built for shinkansen, the E6 is a so-called "mini-shinkansen" designed for existing rail lines converted to shinkansen lines. This requires major differences in the length of the cars (E5 cars are 25m long, E6 cars are just 20.5) and also a narrower cross section as those lines were originally built for narrow-gauge trains.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini-shinkansen
by WizardOfOss rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 18:54
on the Wikipedia page they didn't include all the Shinkansen trains.

All the currently operating models are listed on that page, but I'll list them here for you again by network:

JR East:
E2
E3
E4
E5
E6

JR Tokai:
700 series

JR West:
500 series
700 series

JR Kyushu:
700 series
800 series

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinkansen#List_of_Shinkansen_train_model...

Just look at the train picture on the upper main page of JapanGuide. This one isn't included. That's just an example.

If you are talking about the Japan Rail Pass advertisement that sometimes appears on the top banner, please note that that train is an Odakyu Romance Car. Its a limited express train, not a shinkansen.

but E5 and E6 is precisely something I don't get: E5 was developed in 2011, and E6 in 2013. Only two years of distance between those two developments? Couldn't they use the structure of the E5 to make the E6 ?

Actually they did pretty much exactly that. The E6 is based on the E5 design but is a special, smaller train set built specifically for the needs of the Akita Shinkansen line. It will fully replace the aging E3 on that line by next spring. Read up on the Akita shinkansen line and you will understand why a different trainset is necessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akita_Shinkansen
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: why so many Shinkansen ? 2013/11/15 20:50
If anyone wants to know why there are so many different types of Shinkansen - spending an hour or so waiting at Tokyo Station in the Shinkansen section answers all questions. It seems as though one train leaves about every 2 minutes which means there seems to be hundreds of these trains running - thus the different models. I do however look forward to one day riding the double decker Shinkansens to Echigo-Yuzawa....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

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