Tottori: Express Train Made Less Shaky in Bid to Reduce Trainsickness

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The new Yakumo limited express train with improved comfort at a station in Matsue.

YONAGO, Tottori — The Yakumo limited express train, notorious among passengers for causing trainsickness due to its large tilt on curved tracks, will launch a new type of car with minimized swing this spring to improve the ride.

Yakumo, operated by West Japan Railway Co., makes 15 round trips a day between Okayama and Izumoshi stations through western Tottori Prefecture.

The train is designed to travel through curves without slowing down by tilting inward to suppress the centrifugal force. This causes a wide, slow shaking side to side, especially when the train travels at high speed on a sequence of tight curves about 300 meters in radius. Passengers often get trainsick because of the constant tilting and swinging.

Because of this, the train has been given the unflattering nickname “Guttari Yakumo” (weary Yakumo), a pun on “Yuttari Yakumo” (roomy Yakumo), the name of the train with wider seats.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Seats for passenger groups are seen in the new Yakumo in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture.

The shaking is caused by the control system used on the 381 series of trains that was introduced in 1982.

The system on the new cars uses data on curves inputted in advance and sensors to accurately determine the train’s position relative to the curves, so that the train body tilts according to the curvature of the tracks, minimizing swinging.

JR West will gradually introduce 44 new cars, four cars for each train, this spring. “We are confident that passengers will no longer get trainsick,” said a JR West official.