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Experimental journey of driver-less bullet train in Japan

Japan wants to launch driverless trains in the future due to shortage of staff. On Wednesday, the East Japan Railway Company tested an automatic bullet train in the Niigata region on the west coast of Honshu Island.

According to a Tokyo-based Kyodo News report, at the beginning of the test, the driver switched on the train and turned it into “automatic mode”. From then on, the bullet train with 12 bogies did not require any further intervention by the driver. The E-Series train operates from a remote control center.

This was the first test of the automatic or driverless movement of a bullet train already in commercial operation in Japan.

Although the test was conducted with the aim of launching a driverless train, several drivers and assistants were present on the train during the test on Wednesday. They were ready to take control of the train in case of any emergency.

The train stops at the Niigata Shinkansen train depot after traveling about 5 kilometers from Niigata station and achieving a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour. But the train stopped eight centimeters away from where it was supposed to stop. Authorities say it was within 50 centimeters.

Officials at the East Japan Railway say the driver’s stopping technique is similar to the automatic train’s stopping technique. But it will improve in the future. From October 29 until the time of the automatic train test, the company was fixing the technical aspects. Apart from this, tests are also being carried out so that the train can be stopped in case of emergency.

According to the Japanese railway company, it has not yet been decided when the fully automatic train will be fully operational. The successful operation of the driverless train requires its remote control and monitoring of the inside of the train. East Japan Railway is using the local FiveG network to send fast video from the train and monitor it at the same time.

The company has already tested their train on Tokyo’s busy Yamanot Loop Line. Apart from this, similar tests have also been conducted on Alpha-X trains.
In addition to the East Japan Railway, the West Japan Railway Company and the Kyosho Railway Company are also experimenting with automatic trains in the country. Automated railroad operating systems have already been introduced for some monorails in Japan.

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