JR Hokkaido Train-on-Train Concept

I've come across an interesting concept revealed by JR Hokkaido in 2006 (yeah, took me long enough) is exploring in order to reduce traffic congestion in the Seikan Tunnel after the opening of run-through high speed service on the Hokkaido Shinkansen currently being constructed. The Hokkaido Shinkansen, planned to open in 2015, is the first high speed link to connect the Japanese island of Honshu to the northern island of Hokkaido.

Honshu side entrance of the Seikan Tunnel
A little background. The Seikan Tunnel is the longest undersea railroad tunnel in the world. Narrow gage double track railroad mainline traverses through the tunnel. Track work is currently under way to upgrade the tunnel to dual gage trackage. Unlike the Channel Tunnel, the Seikan Tunnel uses a single tube for both tracks. Therefore, trains trailing both directions will need to pass each other at some point in the tunnel. Shockwaves created by pressure differential created by train moving at high speed in a tunnel increases the risk of excessive lateral force on the slower moving train and may derail the slower moving train. This is a problem that the Seikan Tunnel will encounter when high-speed trains start to use the tunnel along with existing train and freight train services.

Okay, so here's one interesting potential solution to the problem. Japanese freight trains are narrow gage with a limited clearance profile small enough to fit on a flatcar and still conform to the clearance profile of the largest Japanese high-speed train. The train-on-train concept is exactly the above. Why not load the freight train onto a faster moving freight train in the tunnel and speed up the entire operation? I can't find a lot of details (but at least there are 2 pictures on Wikipedia, hooray), but I'm sure there are quite a few technical hurdles that will need to be overcome. We shall see what comes out the other end eventually.


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