SmartRail World

The Shinkansen, the Japanese 'super express of dreams' turns 50.

"With the start of the Shinkansen, we had a feeling that the starving time would end and Japan would change dramatically...."

It was 50 years ago today that Japan unveiled its first bullet train, the Shinkansen, which at the click of an ignition switch ushered in the era of modern high-speed rail and the position of Japan as a symbol of economic growth and innovation. Abigail Francis of SmartRail World finds out more... On October 1, 1964, just 9 days prior to the opening of the Tokyo Olympics and less than two decades on from the devastating impact of World War II on a defeated Japan, the Shinkansen (Ed- which in Japanese means, rather prosaically ‘new trunk line) was unveiled and showcased to the world.

Connecting two main urban cities, Tokyo and Osaka, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen’s super-sleek, streamlined design carried its first passengers at a high speed of 130 mph (209 km/h). The new line reduced travelling times for passengers from around 6 hours and 40 minutes to just 4 hours, which, at today’s speed of 170 mph (274 km/h), now only takes 2 hours 25 minutes. In 1975, the Sanyo Shinkansen became the first extension to the Tōkaidō line, transporting passengers to the island of Kyushu, shortly followed by the addition of Tohuku and Joetsu.

With costs estimated at 400 billion yen, in the decades recovering from the economic losses of war, the ambitious project and large budget faced opposition. However, following its unveiling, passengers and the world stood in awe. Fumihiro Araki, a former railway engineer, recalled the impact of the project in the Economic Times ; “With the start of the Shinkansen, we had a feeling that the starving time would end and Japan would change dramatically. The Shinkansen aimed to be the World’s fastest train; it gave people hope and made Japan look forward. It was nicknamed the 'super express of dreams' and actually gave Japanese people a dream."

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SmartRail Speaks: Dan Cumming, Director of Sales & Marketing, Quester Tangent

“Since we are making the rail cars smarter, the next logical step is pulling the data off trains for storage and in-depth analysis. What do we do with that raw data?”

Luke Upton (LU): As means of an introduction, perhaps you could give any readers unaware of Quester Tangent a little introduction into how you work with the rail industry.

Dan Cumming (DC): Quester Tangent has over 20 years of experience in the industry, focused primarily on supplying the passenger rail market with train electronics and software solutions. We work with the world’s major train manufacturers and transit authorities. A wide variety of vehicle applications in North America, Korea, China, and Malaysia use our products including: monitoring and control, on-train displays, event recorders, communication and data networks, and passenger information systems. With over 7,000 products installed in revenue-service, we can proudly say we are a leading independent supplier of monitoring and diagnostic systems in North America.

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US$90 billion Thai infrastructure investment programme confirmed.

Speaking at a recent SmartRail Asia press conference, Dr. Jamroon Tungkijpaisal, Chairman of State Railway of Thailand Electrified Train (SRTET) announced expansion and upgrading plans for the Airport Rail Link network as part of the Thai government's US$90 billion infrastructure investment programme.  This eight-year infrastructure development plan includes two high-speed dual track railway lines at 741 billion baht and the construction of six metre-gauge standard dual track railway routes covering a total distance of 887 kilometres at the cost of over 127 billion baht.

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Crossrail update: Automatic Train Operation, CBTC & more.

With Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail (pictured right) speaking at the CBTC World Congress (London, 4-6 November) we caught up with his team at this mega-project to find out more about their latest signalling developments.

"Construction of Crossrail, Europe’s largest construction project, has been underway since 2009 and earlier this year the programme passed the half-way point. Rail services through central London are due to commence in late 2018. Presently, over 10,000 people are working across 40 construction sites to construct the new tunnels and stations for the major new railway which will transform rail travel in London and the South East. Tunnelling is more than 80 per cent complete and by 2015 all the major civil engineering for Crossrail will be finished.

The second half of the Crossrail programme is dominated by railway systems. As major construction concludes, work will get underway to fit-out the new tunnels and stations with the necessary equipment and services to enable Crossrail services to operate. This will include the installation of over 40km of track, power equipment as well as signalling, ventilation and drainage systems.

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Intermodal Europe-China service launched; 14 days total journey time.

DHL Global Forwarding has launched a scheduled weekly intermodal service from Suzhou in China to Warsaw in Poland, with a journey time of around 14 days which they claim is ‘half the time of ocean freight and a sixth of the cost of air freight’. The block train service routes from Suzhou along the trans-Siberian North Corridor, to DHL's intermodal hub in Poland, connecting Suzhou with Europe. The ‘last mile’ delivery is then by local rail or truck to anywhere in Europe.

This expansion complements the existing daily single wagon service from Shanghai to Europe, also along the North Corridor, and the weekly block train service from Chengdu to Europe along China's West Corridor rail line through Kazakhstan to Europe.

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VIDEO: Man vs Tube Train. Who wins?

Courtesy of Epic Challenges, a man on the Circle Line in Central London exits his Underground tube train at Mansion House and races it to the next stop at Cannon Street – a route that is 380m long, and includes 75 steps and two ticket barriers. But will he get there before the train arrives? Watch the video to find out!

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How London commuters awoke to a contactless way to pay

Londoners awoke on Tuesday morning to find that credit and debit cards (if containing the appropriate technology) could now be used on the Underground network in addition to their Oyster card or ticket. Today SmartRail World looks at the development, talks to some commuters and finds a video from TfL about it. The contactless system requires no need for a PIN or a signature, just a touch of the card on the reader, at the beginning and end of the journey, as you would with an Oyster, which charges customers an Adult-rate pay as you go fare. Contactless technology is already familiar to those travelling in London, having launched on the city’s buses in December 2012, with around 69,000 payments made using contactless on London Buses each day. A pilot of the contactless system with 5000 customers has also been running since April.

Speaking at the launch of the service, Shashi Verma, TfL's Director of Customer Experience, said: “Customers can look forward to having an easier and more convenient way to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them to get on board without delay. I would like to remind all of our customers to only touch one card on the reader to avoid paying with a card they did not intend to pay with. Contactless payments on our buses have already been a resounding success with over one million customers using their contactless payment card to pay their bus fare around 20 million times.”

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SmartRail Speaks: Cynthia Jones Parks, President & CEO, Jones Worley

"One of the biggest challenges is resistance to change – the new system is clearly superior to your old one, but your customers and your employees are comfortable with the current system."

Today SmartRail World Editor Luke Upton, travels to Atlanta Georgia, to speak to Cynthia Jones Parks, President and CEO of Jones Worley, one of the key companies behind the smart card revolution in US transit. Under Ms. Parks’ leadership, Jones Worley serves leading transportation industry clients nationwide, as well as selected Fortune 500 corporations and privately held firms, non-profits in healthcare and education, and government agencies working in tourism and economic development. Jones Worley play a fascinating and perhaps sometimes understated role in the development of smart cards, so read on to find out more…

Luke Upton (LU): Many thanks for the time today Cynthia, as a means of introduction, could you tell us a little more about the work of Jones Worley?

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Dubai Metro’s speedy growth continues as 5 year landmark reached

On the occasion of its fifth birthday, Angelica Lecart of SmartRail World takes a look at how far the young metro has come. Since its launch on 9th September 2009, following three years of construction it has proved to be one of the most successful, driverless metro lines in the world, accommodating about half a billion passengers since opening. That’s more than the whole population of the USA.

The metro boasts world-class safety standards with a control centre at Rashidiya that keeps close check of all the trains, tracks and stations. Any issues or faults are detected within just seconds and any major problems will prompt the train attendants to take control of the train manually. In fact, all the staff are carefully trained and know what to do if such an issue should occur, including clear guidelines on how to evacuate riders safely and efficiently if needed.

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'Appy birthday to TriMet's industry leading mobile solution

By Abigail Francis.  In September 2013, with the help of GlobeSherpa, TriMet became the first mass transit agency in the US to launch a free mobile ticketing app for both rail and bus services, which was set to make waiting in line, and relying on paper tickets a thing of the past. Last week, TriMet celebrated the app’s one-year anniversary, and it has certainly not disappointed.

TriMet, a public agency who provide mass transit for the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, including commuter rail lines and Portland’s main bus system, joined forces with Portland based mobile software developers, GlobeSherpa, to create the free to download mobile ticketing app. The app, which launched in the fall last year, and available to smart phone users, allows riders to purchase and use tickets on the go, without the hassle of queuing or searching pockets for spare change. Riders are able to buy a range of tickets, from one-way trips to monthly passes, using their debit or credit card all at the touch of a button. Once purchased, users receive an animated ticket, to be validated visually by conductors, or as an encrypted barcode to be scanned.

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The Shinkansen, the Japanese 'super express of dreams' turns 50.

"With the start of the Shinkansen, we had a feeling that the starving time would end and Japan would change dramatically...." It was 50 years ago today that Japan unveiled its first bullet...Read more

SmartRail Speaks: Dan Cumming, Director of Sales & Marketing, Quester Tangent

“Since we are making the rail cars smarter, the next logical step is pulling the data off trains for storage and in-depth analysis. What do we do with that raw data?” Luke Upton (LU): As means of an...Read more

US$90 billion Thai infrastructure investment programme confirmed.

Speaking at a recent SmartRail Asia press conference, Dr. Jamroon Tungkijpaisal, Chairman of State Railway of Thailand Electrified Train (SRTET) announced expansion and upgrading plans for the...Read more

Crossrail update: Automatic Train Operation, CBTC & more.

With Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail (pictured right) speaking at the CBTC World Congress (London, 4-6 November) we caught up with his team at this mega-project to find out more about their...Read more

Intermodal Europe-China service launched; 14 days total journey time.

DHL Global Forwarding has launched a scheduled weekly intermodal service from Suzhou in China to Warsaw in Poland, with a journey time of around 14 days which they claim is ‘half the time of ocean...Read more

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