Photo: Kazumiki Miura

The automation trials will use a Series E7 trainset.

JAPAN: JR East announced on November 10 that it plans to use a 12-car Series E7 high speed trainset to undertake a series of driverless test runs in October and November 2021 as part of its Change 2027 programme.

The trials are intended to accumulate and verify data on automatic operation to support the railway’s longer term objective of running driverless trains in revenue service on the Shinkansen network.

The tests will take place on the northernmost section of the Joetsu Shinkansen, which is not used by commercial traffic. The 5∙75 km section running northeast from Niigata station to the high speed rolling stock depot at Higashi-Niigata parallels the conventional Hakushin Line and includes two sharp curves.

Four aspects of automatic train operation are to be evaluated during the trials:

  • that the train can be started automatically;
  • that the wayside and onboard control equipment automatically accelerates and decelerates the train;
  • that the ATO equipment enables the train to be halted in a specific location.
  • that if required, the train can be brought to an emergency halt through remote intervention.

A further aspect of the tests will be an assessment of the potential transmission of high-definition video using local 5G telecoms networks, with a view to the future use of this technology on the national network.