Saturday, May 2, 2015

Going into the Homestretch: The E351 Series

EMU JR East E351 series, "Super-Azusa" arrives at Chino Station on the Chuo Main Line
 
A wave of generation change is going on in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Following the old local trains, the present express trains will also soon be replaced by a new model on the Chuo Main Line.

The Chuo Main Line connects Tokyo and Nagoya (424.6 km) penetrating Japan's backbone mountains. The whole route is electrified with a 1,500 V DC system. The track is 1,067 mm gauge double-double or double in urban areas; while single track still exists in the countryside.

The EMU E351 series, limited express "Super-Azusa", is the representative train on the eastern half of the Chuo Main Line. It was specially-developed in 1993 for passing through tight curves in mountain ranges at a high speed. Just before entering the tight curves, the train automatically tilts its body to mitigate the centrifugal force. So, it's called a "pendulum train" with a computer-controlled tilting mechanism. Thanks to this device, the 351 series has greatly reduced the travel time on the line.

On February 24th in 2014, JR East made a press release announcing that a new express train, the EMU E353 series, would be launched on the Chuo Main Line as early as the summer of this year. New technology, namely an air suspension type tilting system, is applied for this new model instead of a pendulum type tilting system on the E351 series.

The E351 series is going into the homestretch. It is not going to be operated for very long, and will soon disappear from the Chuo Main Line.
 
EMU JR East E351 series, "Super-Azusa" stands at Shinjuku Station on the Chuo Main Line