EAST Japan Railway (JR East) has unveiled the new Series E8 Yamagata Shinkansen, which is due to begin operating in spring 2024, at the Shinkansen General Rolling Stock Centre in Rifu-cho, Miyagi Prefecture.

JR East initially ordered 17 seven-car sets from Kawasaki Railcar Manufacturing and Hitachi, but reduced this to 15 following the reduction of passenger numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The small-profile trains will operate Tsubasa services on the Yamagata Shinkansen, a “mini-shinkansen” between Tokyo and Shinjō in Yamagata Prefecture, which operates on part of the route of the Tokyo - Aomori Tohoku Shinkansen and the Ōu conventional line.

The car body is made of aluminium alloy to reduce weight, and the train is fitted with single-arm low-noise pantographs. The trains have five powered cars and two trailer cars, and can operate under both 20kV and 25kV 50 Hz electrification. The trains are now due to undergo a year of testing.

The E8 series trains have a nose length of 9m, 3m longer than the E3 series currently operating on the Yamagata Shinkansen. The maximum operating speed on the Shinkansen section has also been increased from 275km/h to 300km/h between Utsunomiya and Fukushima to shorten the journey time and to operate in combination with the E5 Series on the Tohoku Shinkansen. The maximum operating speed on the conventional section remains 130km/h.

The E8 series has capacity for 352 passengers with a 2+2 seating arrangement, with each seat fitted with a power socket. Wi-Fi is also available, as well as three wheelchair spaces and CCTV.

The trains are fitted with an active suspension to improve ride comfort. To improve stability in snow, the bogies are equipped with heaters to prevent snow build up.

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