Sunday, 22 April 2012

Shinkansen in Spring Attire

Set number R20 of the Shinkansen E3 series decorated with Sakura design at Tokyo Station

In this season, the weather forecast informs us where the "front line" of the Sakura (cherry blossoms) is. Although Sakura blooming season has passed in Tokyo, the front line is still traveling up the northern part of Japan. A person traveling to the north with the "Sakura front" would be able to enjoy the blossoms for nearly three months.

To push the Sakura front up to the north, Shinkansen trains are now dressed in the spring fashion. They are the EMU JR East E2 and E3 series, decorated with Sakura designs, four sets each.

The E2 series was launched in 1997. Total 53 sets, 502 cars have been manufactured. They operate on the Tohoku Shinkansen with a maximum speed of 275km/hour, meanwhile 260km/hour on the Nagano Shinkansen.

The E3 series was also launched in 1997, when the Akita Shinkansen was opened. A total of 20 sets, 261 cars, have been manufactured. They are so called Mini-shinkansen, with a car length of 20m, whilst the standard full-sized shinkansen length is 25m. They operate with a maximum speed of 275km/hour on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, and 130km/hour on the Akita Shinkansen line.

The EMU E3 series operation is often coupled with the E2 series trains. We can see that the E3 series, Komachi, which leaves Tokyo, is often coupled with the E2 series, Hayate. Then, Komachi is detached after arriving at Morioka Station, and runs by itself to Akita, because the route between Morioka and Akita is constructed as a so-called Mini-shinkansen.

Set number J59 of the Shinkansen E2 series decorated with Sakura design at Tokyo Station