New Shinkansen Bullet Train Test-Ride Event; E8 Series Train Cars are Bigger, Faster, More Comfortable

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The nose of an E8 Series train, right, is longer than that of an older E3 Series train. The trains were seen at Yonezawa Station.

YAMAGATA — East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) held a test-ride event on Wednesday to offer passengers a taste of what traveling on the new Yamagata Shinkansen bullet trains will feel like.

The E8 Series trains will make their debut on March 16, when JR East will also start using a new timetable. The E8 trains, the first new model of Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train in about 20 years, are made up of seven cars each and boast many features that represent Yamagata Prefecture.

The test ride for reporters was a round trip between Yamagata and Yonezawa stations.

The standard train cars have a sunny atmosphere, with bright yellow and red seats designed to be reminiscent of safflower, the prefectural flower. Unlike the current E3 Series train cars, all the seats are fitted with electric outlets under the armrests. The seats are larger than before — one centimeter wider and four centimeters deeper. The footrests have been removed, giving ample space to sit comfortably.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The seats in E8 train standard cars are yellow on the upper part and red on the lower part. The bright colors were inspired by safflower.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Each seat is fitted with an electric outlet under the arm rest.

The seats in the first-class Green Car are green, with motifs inspired by the prefecture’s Mogami River and Mt. Gassan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Seats in the first-class car are green and made of a traditional silk fabric from the city of Shinjo.

The train’s nose is nine meters long — three meters longer than the E3 model. Its maximum speed is 300 kph, an increase of 25 kph, which will shorten the travel time between Tokyo and Yamagata, as well as between Tokyo and Shinjo, by four minutes. During the test ride, the train stopped next to an E3 model at Yonezawa Station, and the difference between their noses was easy to spot.

To protect against heavy snow, the bogies are fitted with heaters for melting snow. Up to now, snow around the bogies of Yamagata Shinkansen trains has been removed by staff at Fukushima Station. The new cars are expected to reduce service delays.

Another test ride was held on Wednesday afternoon with about 300 members of the public on board.

“The seats are spacious, and there’s no noise. It was a very comfortable journey,” said a 30-year-old man from Yamagata.

His 3-year-old son boarded a Shinkansen bullet train for the first time.

“It’s so cool, and the seats are comfy. I wanna ride it again,” the boy said.