Monday, October 1, 2012

The E1, Retirement from Regular Trains


The double decker EMU, JR East Shinkansen E1 series stands at Tokyo Station (July 2012)

On September 29th, JR East revised the timetable of the Tohoku and the Yamagata Shinkansens. With this revision, the EMU E1 series have been retired from the regular trains.

The E1 series, the first double decker Shinkansen trains were launched in 1994. As I mentioned in my blog on July 17th in 2011, they have been manufactured as commuter trains, which transport large numbers of people during rush hour. For that purpose, one set of the E1 series consists of 12 cars, which can accommodate 1235 seats.

This train had contributed greatly to the commuter transportation, but it has the disadvantage of being a slow runner. A maximum speed of the E1 series is only 240km/hour. That is the main reason why the E1 series had to be retired. Currently, the maximum speed of the Tohoku Shinkansen trains is 275 or 300km/hour; therefore, the E1 series was a bottleneck in the timetable.

Barrier-free policies also might have affected the early retirement of the E1 series. As you know, many countries are promoting a barrier-free society, the same as Japan. A double decker train with stairs wouldn't be suitable for the future barrier-free society.

I got on the E1 series several times. I loved the scenic view from the upper floor, but the seats were cramped because of 3+3 seating configuration. In exchange for many passengers being able to sit, it lost its comfortableness.

Side view of the E1 series at Tokyo Station (July 2012)