The trials will take place in October and November 2021 using an out-of-service 12-car train on the 5km stretch between Niigata station and the Niigata Shinkansen vehicle depot. The ATO trials will consist of remote departure, tests of the ATO system to automatically accelerate and decelerate the train, automatic stopping in a pre-determined location, and emergency stop procedures.

JR East will also test the use of local 5G infrastructure to transmit high-definition video in real-time, which will support verification of the use of 5G in railways. JR East will install a base station along the line to support the transmission test and the capability to perform large-capacity, low-delay communication.

JR East says experience from these trials will support the wider deployment of ATO across its Shinkansen network, a policy included in the railway’s Transformation 2027 strategy.