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Japanese-built train makes debut on British rail lines

37 Comments

British commuters are making trips on Japanese-built high-speed trains for the first time, with more orders expected to follow for the European unit of Hitachi Ltd. if the project proves successful. Since Monday, travelers from Kent, southeast England, have been using Hitachi's six-car Class 395 in a ''preview'' rail service to slash times into central London. The service, which has been introduced on a limited basis until its full introduction in December, is being billed as Britain's fastest domestic service and connects Ashford in Kent to London's St. Pancras station.

British commuters, long accustomed to unreliable train services, have reacted ''extremely positively'' to the Japanese-built trains, according to railway officials. The Hitachi ''Javelin'' trains reach speeds of up to 224 kilometers per hour on the high-speed route which is also used by the Eurostar trains that run between London and Paris via the Channel Tunnel. At full capacity, there will be a total of 29 trains using the line which is operated by Southeastern Rail. The new service sees the journey time from Ashford to London (about 108 km) being cut from about one hour and 20 minutes to 37 minutes. Once the full service is running, it is intended that the trains will connect central London with the stadium in east London that is being built for the 2012 Olympics. The Javelin trains will also stop at other Kent commuter towns beyond Ashford. The contract for the trains was worth 260 million pounds ($423 million) and they were constructed at Hitachi's Kasado plant in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture. Hitachi is hoping it will lead to future contracts in Britain and Europe. In February, a consortium led by Hitachi Europe Ltd. won a 7.5 billion pound contract to supply Britain's intercity rail network with a fleet of Hitachi Super Express Trains. The massive contract for 1,400 new carriages has sparked criticism from a British-based train manufacturer which says it takes jobs out of the country. But Hitachi says the majority of the work will be completed in Britain at a new facility.

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When it comes to trains, the Brits and the Yanks totally dropped the ball. Now they are forced to buy from more advanced countries, and yet they complain about losing jobs.

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The new service sees the journey time from Ashford to London (about 108 km) being cut from about one hour and 20 minutes to 37 minutes.

Ha,ha,ha. Yep, sounds like good old British Rail to me.

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Um, for the States at least, trains are not a big part of the transportation infrastructure. The only part of the country where inter-city trains can make a profit (and where the distances are not that large) is the Northeast Corrider (Boston to DC). Simply, there isn't enough demand for trains themselves, let alone companies that make trains. We're keeping enough transportation company dinosaurs on life support, no need to add train companies into the mix.

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"TheHamburgler at 03:42 PM JST - 1st July

Um, for the States at least, trains are not a big part of the transportation infrastructure. The only part of the country where inter-city trains can make a profit (and where the distances are not that large) is the Northeast Corrider (Boston to DC). Simply, there isn't enough demand for trains themselves, let alone companies that make trains. We're keeping enough transportation company dinosaurs on life support, no need to add train companies into the mix."

Grab a clue would you please! The NE of the U.S. is a prime area to have high speed rail (240Km/h+) and get rid of air travel but most think like you so they have dinosaur transportation to deal with.

The issue is with making the rails NEVER being crossed with retards driving anything across them. You know what happens when someone just can't wait for the train...

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TheHamburgler:

I think that California can make a high-speed line that use the 200 mph E5 Series Shinkansen for conect San Francisco with LA in 2 hours and LA with San Diego in 40 minutes, even with bad weather and without the hassle of the airport security.

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I think that California can make a high-speed line that use the 200 mph E5 Series Shinkansen for conect San Francisco with LA in 2 hours and LA with San Diego in 40 minutes,

They could. And The Porkulus anti-stimulus package Democrats rammed through last February made provisions I think (no one really knows what was in the bill...) for such a line but it's a little game "liberals" like to play with hard-working,productive Americans. The eco-nazi wing of the Dem party is going to find a wittle mouse or a pwitty butterfly whose natural habitat is endangered and the billions earmarked for transit will become - shocka! - lawyer relief. They'll kick some of it back to the Dems, pocket the rest and try and blame "Big Oil."

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teleprompter:

I am confused, is not California's governor Schwarzenegger a "republican" that promotes hydrogen?

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praise be! britain desperately needs to model its rail network on japan's. small country with a relatively high population density and choked roads. i hope they can make the network reasonably affordable and efficient

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What are unreliable train services that British commuters have got long accustomed to? I don't get it. British trains are not running right or too slowly??

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What are unreliable train services that British commuters have got long accustomed to? I don't get it. British trains are not running right or too slowly??

you haven't been to britain, have you. sadly, the "great british spirit" might make for lively, entertaining people full of wit and joy, but it doesn't make for punctual public transport systems

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Why are we talking about the United States ? This is a story about a Japanese-built train being tried out in the UK.

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It's a story of the better of two evils. In the UK the rail unions are extremely powerful, which means that management cannot implement a better rail system without the whole network going on strike. In Japan they do not have the union issue, but that is also why Amagasaki happened, because the drivers were receiving punishments for time delays. That poor driver who also died because his bosses were pushing him to run the train on time, doesn't even receive prayers from the rail company and they were happy to have all the blame heaped on him. So In Japan there are definitely hidden safety issues in order to run the trains on time, whilst in the UK the service is shoddy because of the over-protective unions but an Amagasaki would not happen because the drivers would walk out if asked to compromise train safety.

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Um, for the States at least, trains are not a big part of the transportation infrastructure.

Yes they are. America's vast network is a major carrier of freight.

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Fast trains? What will we have next? Edible cooking?

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Why are we still talking about the United States ?

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"British commuters, long accustomed to unreliable train services"

What's up with that?

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i have to admit, whilst service is usually excellent, i've noticed that on my line (the odakyu line) the slightest bit of rain will throw the schedule off completely. i assume that this is because, during the rush hour, the scheduling is so tight that the slightest mishap throws everything out of whack

at least commuters in the uk don't make the mistake of planning their trips down to the minute

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The big problem in the UK is the rail infrastructure - this train is running on the newly created high speed channel tunnel line. To get it anywhere else in the UK would be decades in the making - not to mention fighting in the courts to by the land to install the new tracks.

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As much as I love the bullet trains here in Japan and have always wondered why larger countries don't take advantage of such systems (imagine Sydney to Melbourne in 3 hours, not the current 9 hours!), it's a pity that it takes oil to generate a lot of the electricity needed to power the trains. So, on the one hand, the trains run clean but the power stations run dirty..... Still, I guess it's better than millions more cars on the roads.

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I think that California can make a high-speed line that use the 200 mph E5 Series Shinkansen for conect San Francisco with LA in 2 hours and LA with San Diego in 40 minutes, even with bad weather and without the hassle of the airport security.

I'm sorry, with what MONEY might California even try doing this? :-P

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Cool, I wish the US would get on board with Hitachi or some other company that has clear experience in high speed rail. It looks like England is smart enough to know when to buy something that works instead of re-inventing the wheel (Accela anyone)

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Riding the trains in Britain is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. First you make sure you are on time but you know she will always be late. You spend a lot of money on tickets before you can even think of climbing on board. Then having had a hot sweaty half hour or so you get off feeling just a little bit dirty.

This new service sounds fantastic and a real change from my experience. One of the reasons I got into the cars.

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Excellent news, and good-looking trains too! :8)

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Actual LOL @ SwissToni.

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History is a funny thing. In the 1800s Japan (as well as the United States) imported all their rail from Britain, then the world leader in railway technology. And here they are in 2009 buying Japanese high speed trains. Oh and yea most Brits I know have few kind things to to say about British Rail's performance. But that's been going on for decades.

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Ossan, good point. But the fact is still that America has the greatest rail network on the planet, one which extends over thousands of miles and helps keep the world's greatest nation performing. There is no peer to America's high speed rail network. None.

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TokyoHustla: what high speed?

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Oh and yea most Brits I know have few kind things to to say about British Rail's performance. But that's been going on for decades

Actually the rail system was privatised in the late 80s and 90s and it's since then that the service has really gone down the tubes. The problem is is not so much the trains themselves, it's the service. A shiny new train that's late because of engineering works at Orpington is still going to be late, wherever it's made. As another poster pointed out, it's going to run on a prestige, fast track line. Of course it will whizz through in half the time - it doesn't have to pass through other local stations on the way. I doubt if this is even news in the UK, as most people are interested in the commuter service that gets them into work, and they will mostly continue to be sh#t.

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In Global trade it is good. I hope the Japanese in turn buy things from Britain to be produced in Japan.

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Course japan will buy the minimum requried to fulfil any contract agreements. Trains will only look nice as they pull late into the station.

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There is no peer to America's high speed rail network. None.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! That's a good one.... LOL

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In Global trade it is good. I hope the Japanese in turn buy things from Britain to be produced in Japan.

If some British boyband releases "AMBITIOUS BRITAIN!" be sure to tell the Japanese.

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Ossan, good point. But the fact is still that America has the greatest rail network on the planet, one which extends over thousands of miles and helps keep the world's greatest nation performing. There is no peer to America's high speed rail network. None.

again, denver to san francisco: average speed 30mph. EPIC FAIL

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When it comes to trains, the Brits and the Yanks totally dropped the ball.

Actually Sebastian, if the Americans had even half of the level of rail service Britain enjoys(?), warts and all, it would be twice as good (at least) as what Amtrak does. British trains and railway stations are like Star Wars compared to the sad state of passenger service in the good 'ol USA, which has been described as "like the passenger rail system of Uzbekistan without the basic competence".

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Tokyohustler* helps keep the world's greatest nation performing. There is no peer to America's high speed rail network. None.

OOps I think I just threw up in my mouth a lil bit from that patriotic garbage. Again, to repeat what Northlondon said, Why is everyone harping on about America on a story that concerns Britain and a Japanese company. Are you lot that obsessed with yourselves? Are all the MOds Americans too?

By the way ... worlds greatest what? 83rd safest where? Economic what? Give me a break, there are a score of countries I would rate as better for as many different reasons as you lot use as claims to fame.

Good for BRITAIN getting those JAPANESE trains, that The U.S don't have and will never get. Rant Done. Sumimasen. Slow day.

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japanese trains suck. America stands tall and proud.

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and loud

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