JR East Class E954 Fastech 360 S

I think I’m gonna continue with this “theme” of Japanese experimental or prototype trainsets. This week, let me introduce you a more recent high speed prototype electric multiple unit, East Japan Railway Company (JR East)’s Class E954, or more commonly known to the public as the Fastech 360 S. Well the term “fastech” sounds easy enough to decode. The 360 in the name of this 8-car EMU denotes the target revenue speed of the production train in km/h, and the letter S stands for Shinkansen (new trunk line), to disginguish the Class E954 from the Class E955, aka the Fastech 360 Z, Z for Zaraisen (existing line).

Car 1 of the Class E954

Car 8 of the E954, nose of the production E5 was based on this end
The Fastech 360 was designed to have the same stopping distance and external noise level opearting at 360 km/h (224 mph) as the existing Series E2 trainsets operating at 275 km/h (171 mph, the maximum line speed then on the Tôhoku Shinkansen line). The E954 was also to reach a maximum speed of 405 km/h (252 mph) during test runs. Like the previously discussed WIN350, the Fastech 360 trainsets incorporated sets of different experimental equipment in order to evaluate and compare their performances. The best performing components would be then used on the production train, the Shinkansen E5. The components included two nose shapes, 3 different truck types, and 3 different traction motor types. Active tilting suspension was used and tilted the train up to 2 degrees on curves. Different interior designs were also used for the passenger cabins to conduct comfort and ergonomic studies. In order to fulfill the stopping distance requirement, the E954 was even equipped with air deflectors that raised to help creating drag. These deflectors looked somewhat like cat ears and gained the E954 the nickname of Nekomimi (cat ears) Shinkansen.

"Cat ears" of the Class E954
Testing of the prototype trainset commenced in 2005 and concluded in 2008. Problems associated with excessive external noise and catenary wear above 330 km/h (205 mph) could not be addressed in time and the maximum speed of the revenue train (Series E5) was limited at 320 km/h (199 mph). All except for 1 car of the Fastech 360 S was scrapped.

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