CENTRAL Japan Railway (JR Central) has announced a project to build a prototype series 385 EMU that will feature “next-generation tilting control technology,” which is currently under development by the railway.

The new train is intended to replace series 383 EMUs operated on Shinano Limited Express services on the Chūō Main Line, Shinonoi Line and Shinetsu Main Line.

JR Central plans to manufacture an eight-car prototype series 385 with a view to commencing testing in fiscal 2026, which will last for approximately a year. The railway says that the new-generation tilting control technology is designed to constantly monitor the position of the train  and the curve while also detecting the start of the curve more accurately. It is hoped that the improved tilting technology will further enhance ride comfort and safety.

The series 383 fleet has been in service since 1995.

In addition, like the series HC85 diesel-battery hybrid multiple units, the series 385 will be equipped with a system to monitor remotely and continuously the status of onboard equipment, including safety systems such as CCTV.

JR Central hopes to introduce the new train into service around fiscal 2029.

The series 383 can negotiate curves at up to 35km/h faster than conventional rolling stock and is described by JR Central as Japan’s fastest train when passing through curves. A total of 76 cars were manufactured jointly by Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo, forming eight six-car, three four-car, and five two-car sets. The trains entered commercial service in April 1995.