Friday, 12 February 2016

The New Shuttle: Shinkansen's Neighbour

EMU the New Shuttle 2000 series arrives at Komba Station
As I reported before, the New Shuttle (Saitama Shin-toshi Kotsu) is a rubber-tired automated guideway transit (AGT) system in Saitama Prefecture. The route was opened in 1983 beside the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen tracks.

Why was the New Shuttle constructed beside the Shinkansen track? It was because of "the conditions for exchange" proposed by the local people. In the 1970s, environmental pollution due to noise and vibration along the Shinkansen tracks became serious problems. In addition, some local people were anxious about the division of local areas and communities due to the Shinakansen tracks. Saitama Prefecture was no exception. The local people opposed the construction of the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen.

After long negotiations, the local people to the south of Oomiya won the speed limit of the Shinkansen trains and construction of a new commuter railway, namely the Saikyo Line, along the Shinkansen track. On the other hand, the people to the north of Oomiya won the construction of a new AGT line beside the Shinkansen track.

After inauguration of the New Shuttle, the newly established company had been managerially harsh, but today, they are stable in business. Specifically, passengers have drastically increased since the opening of the Railway Museum in front of the Railway Museum (ex-Oonari) Station.

One of the pleasures for rail-fans is to see both the Shinkansen and the New Shuttle trains running adjoining each other on the tracks. It is indeed a good contrast and a photogenic scene if the timing is right.

EMU the New Shuttle 2000 series runs parallel to the JR East Shinkansen E7 series