Gauge Change Train

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The Gauge Change Train (GCT) or Free Gauge Train (フリーゲージトレイン?, "FGT") is the name given to a Japanese project started in 1994 to develop a high-speed train with variable gauge axles to allow inter-running between the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge Shinkansen network, and the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow gauge regional rail network.[1]

Two three-car "GCT" electric multiple unit (EMU) trains have been built for testing. The first train was built in 1998 and withdrawn in 2006. A second train was built in 2006, and a third-generation train is scheduled to commence testing in 2014.

First-generation train (1998–2006)[edit]

Free Gauge Train GCT-01 at kamogawa.jpg
First-generation train on the Yosan Line, May 2003
Manufacturer Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corporation
Constructed 1998
Number built 3 vehicles
Number preserved 1 vehicle
Number scrapped 2 vehicles
Formation 3-car set
Specifications
Car length 23,075 mm (75 ft 8.5 in) (end cars)
20,500 mm (67 ft 3 in) (intermediate car)
Width 2,945 mm (9 ft 7.9 in)
Maximum speed 300 km/h (185 mph) (shinkansen lines)
130 km/h (80 mph) (narrow gauge lines)
Traction system RMT17 traction motors
(x2 per axle)
Power output 190 kW (250 hp)
per axle (25 kV AC)
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC (50/60), 20 kV AC (50/60), 1,500 V DC, Overhead wire
Current collection method Pantograph
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) – 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The first GCT train was completed in October 1998.[2] It was designed to be able to run at a maximum speed of over 300 km/h (185 mph) on Shinkansen lines, and at over 130 km/h (80 mph) on conventional narrow-gauge lines under a catenary voltage of 25 kV AC (50/60 Hz), 20 kV AC (50/60 Hz), or 1,500 V DC.[3]

Formation[edit]

The train was formed as shown below, with all three cars motored.

Car No. 1 2 3
Designation M'c1 M1 M'c2
Numbering GCT01-1 GCT01-2 GCT01-3

Car 1 was built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, car 2 was built by Kinki Sharyo, and car 3 was built by Tokyu Car Corporation.

History[edit]

After preparation at the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) in Kokubunji, Tokyo, the train was moved to JR West tracks in January 1999 for testing on the Sanin Line at speeds of up to 100 km/h (60 mph). From April 1999, the train was shipped to the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado, United States for an extended period of high-speed endurance running until January 2001. Here, it recorded a maximum speed of 246 km/h (153 mph) and ran a total distance of approximately 600,000 km (370,000 mi), with approximately 2,000 axle gauge changing cycles.[4]

In November 2002, the train recorded a maximum speed of 130 km/h (81 mph) on the Nippo Main Line in Kyushu.[2]

From May to June 2003, the train was tested for the first time in Shikoku, running late at night on the Yosan Line between Sakaide Station and Matsuyama Station. [5]

Testing on the Sanyo Shinkansen commenced on 23 August 2004 between Shin-Yamaguchi and Shin-Shimonoseki stations, delayed from the initial plan for testing to start during fiscal 2002.[2] A series of 15 return test runs were conducted late at night between 23 August and 27 October 2004, starting at a maximum speed of 70 km/h (45 mph) on the first day.[6] The maximum speed was increased to 100 km/h (60 mph) on the second day, eventually raised to 210 km/h (130 mph) on the final day.[6]

Withdrawal and preservation[edit]

Testing ended in 2006, after which the train was stored at JR Kyushu's Kokura Works. In April 2007, the train was moved to storage at JR Shikoku's Tadotsu Works. Two of the cars were cut up on-site, but one end car, number GCT01-1, was moved to Kawasaki Heavy Industries' Kobe factory in February 2014.[7]


Second-generation train (2006–2013)[edit]

Gauge Changing Train 20120912.jpg
The second-generation set undergoing testing on the Yosan Line in Shikoku, September 2012
Constructed 2006
Scrapped 2014
Number built 3 vehicles
Number preserved 1 vehicle
Number scrapped 2 vehicles
Formation 3-car set
Capacity 36
Specifications
Car length 23,075 mm (75 ft 8.5 in) (end cars)
20,500 mm (67 ft 3 in) (intermediate car)
Width 2,945 mm (9 ft 7.9 in)
Height 4,030 mm (13 ft 3 in)
Maximum speed 270 km/h (170 mph) (shinkansen lines)
130 km/h (80 mph) (narrow gauge lines)
Axle load max 12.5 t (12.3 long tons; 13.8 short tons)
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC (60 Hz), 20 kV AC (60 Hz), 1,500 V DC, Overhead wire
Current collection method Pantograph
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) – 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

Initially scheduled to be completed in 2004, the second train was delivered in 2006, starting test running based at JR Shikoku's Tadotsu Works. In March 2007, the train was shipped from the RTRI in Kokubunji to Kokura Works, where it was shown off to the press in May 2007.

This train was based on the E3 Series Shinkansen, and included passenger seating in the intermediate car. Maximum speed was 270 km/h (170 mph) on Shinkansen lines operating under 25 kV AC (60 Hz), and 130 km/h (80 mph) on conventional lines operating under 20 kV AC (60 Hz) or 1,500 V DC.[8]

Formation[edit]

The train was formed as shown below, with all cars motored.

Car No. 1 2 3
Designation Mc3 M2 Mc4
Numbering GCT01-201 GCT01-202 GCT01-203
  • Car 2 was fitted with 36 seats, tilting mechanism, and a pantograph.

The end cars were 23,075 mm (75 ft 8.5 in) long, and the intermediate car was 20,500 mm (67 ft 3 in) long.[8]

History[edit]

From December 2007, test-running commenced on conventional tracks between Kokura Works and Nishi-Kokura Station.

From June 2009, the train underwent test-running between the Kyushu Shinkansen and conventional narrow gauge tracks, operating at speeds of up to 270 km/h (170 mph) on shinkansen tracks.[9]

In 2011, the train was fitted with new lighter weight "E" bogies to improve stability and ride comfort when negotiating curves or points with radii of less than 600 m. These replaced the previous "D" bogie design. Late night test running took place at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph) on the Yosan Line from August 2011, with the train based at Tadotsu.[10] Endurance testing was then undertaken from December 2011 until September 2013 on the Yosan Line between Tadotsu and Matsuyama, during which time it covered a distance of approximately 70,000 km.[11][12]

Withdrawal and preservation[edit]

Following withdrawal of the set, one end car, GCT01-201, was moved from Tadotsu to Iyo-Saijo in July 2014 for display at the Shikoku Railway Heritage Museum in Saijō, Ehime.[13] The two other cars, GCT01-202 and GCT01-203, were cut up at JR Shikoku's Tadotsu Works in August 2014.[13]


Third-generation train (2014–)[edit]

Constructed 2014
Number built 4 vehicles
Formation 4-car set
Specifications
Car length 23,075 mm (75 ft 8.5 in) (end cars)
20,500 mm (67 ft 3 in) (intermediate cars)
Width 2,945 mm (9 ft 7.9 in)
Height 3,650 mm (12 ft 0 in)
Maximum speed 270 km/h (170 mph) (shinkansen lines)
130 km/h (80 mph) (narrow gauge lines)
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC (60 Hz), 20 kV AC (60 Hz), 1,500 V DC, Overhead wire
Current collection method Pantograph
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) – 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

A third-generation, four-car, train was delivered to Kumamoto Depot in Kyushu in late March 2014,[14] and this will subsequently undergo "three-mode" (standard-gauge - gauge-changing - narrow gauge) endurance testing using a new facility built near Shin-Yatsushiro Station.[15]

Formation[edit]

The train is formed as shown below, with all cars motored.[16]

Car No. 1 2 3 4
Numbering FGT-9001 FGT-9002 FGT-9003 FGT-9004

Cars 1, 3, and 4 were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Kobe, and car 2 was built by Hitachi in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi.[16] Car 2 is equipped with a single-arm current collector.[16] Seating accommodation is provided in car 2, arranged in eleven rows 2+2 abreast.[16]


JR West plans[edit]

JR West plans to build a gauge-changing facility at Tsuruga Station, with testing commencing in October 2014, initially using a variable-gauge bogie rig.[17] Also starting in fiscal 2014, the company will design and build a new six-car variable-gauge trainset, which is scheduled be tested from fiscal 2016 on the standard gauge (1,435 mm) Hokuriku Shinkansen and narrow-gauge (1,067 mm) Hokuriku Main Line and Kosei Line.[17]

See also[edit]

  • Mini-shinkansen, the concept of converting narrow-gauge lines to standard gauge or dual gauge for use by Shinkansen trains
  • Super Tokkyū, the concept of building narrow-gauge lines to Shinkansen standards
  • Train on Train, an experimental concept for conveying narrow-gauge container wagons on Shinkansen tracks through the Seikan Tunnel

Further reading[edit]

  • Takao, Kikuo; Uruga, Kenichi (August 2003), "Gauge Change EMU Train Outline", QR of RTRI 44: 103–108 
  • "New GCT train hampered by speed, weight problems". The Asahi Shimbun: Asia & Japan Watch. The Asahi Shimbun Company. 6 May 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RTRI REPORT, Vol.14 No.10, October 2000". Japan: Railway Technical Research Institute. 2000. Archived from the original on 17 February 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "フリーゲージトレイン開発から今日まで" [The Gauge Change Train and its development to the present day]. Railway Journal (Japan: Tetsudō Journal) 38 (457): p.36–37. November 2004. 
  3. ^ プロトタイプの世界 - Prototype World. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbunsha. December 2005. pp. 72–75. OCLC 170056962. 
  4. ^ "軌間可変電車(フリーゲージトレイン)国内走行試験 在来線130km/h達成" [Free Gauge Train achieves 130 km/h on conventional line in Japanese testing] (in Japanese). Japan: Railway Technical Research Institute. 14 January 2002. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "フリーゲージトレイン、12日試験走行". Shikoku News (in Japanese). 10 May 2003. Retrieved 7 September 2008. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b "フリーゲージトレインが新幹線上を初めて走行" [The Gauge Change Train runs on the Shinkansen for the first time]. Railway Journal (Japan: Tetsudō Journal) 39 (459): p.92–93. January 2005. 
  7. ^ "「フリーゲージトレイン」が甲種輸送される" [Gauge Change Train moved]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "新形フリーゲージトレイン" [New Gauge-changing Train]. Japan Railfan Magazine (Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd.) 47 (556): p.86–87. August 2007. 
  9. ^ "下関で車輪幅の変換試験を公開 フリーゲージ電車" [Free Gauge Train gauge-changing demonstrated at Shimonoseki]. Kyodo News (in Japanese). 29 April 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "軌間可変電車に新型台車を装着" [Gauge Change Train fitted with new bogies]. Tetsudō Daiya Jōhō Magazine (Japan: Kotsu Shimbun) 40 (329): p.65. September 2011. 
  11. ^ "FGT耐久走行試験の終了のお知らせ" [Completion of FGT endurance testing] (pdf) (in Japanese). Japan: Japan Railway Construction, Transport and technology Agency. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "軌間可変電車(フリーゲージトレイン)の技術開発に関する技術評価" [Technical evaluation of variable-gauge train (Free gauge Train) technology development] (pdf) (in Japanese). Japan: Saga Prefecture. 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Uchida, Takao (November 2014). "フリーゲージトレイン2次車の解体始まる" [Gauge Change Train 2nd-generation set cutting-up starts]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese) (Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd.) 54 (643): p.155. 
  14. ^ "軌間可変電車(フリーゲージトレイン) 新試験車両のプレス公開について" [Press preview of new Gauge Change Train] (pdf). Press release (in Japanese). Japan: Japan Railway Construction, Transport and technology Agency. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "「フリーゲージトレイン」3次車が熊本へ" [3rd-generation "Free Gauge Train" moved to Kumamoto]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d "フリーゲージトレイン新試験車両" [New experimental free gauge train]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese) (Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd.) 54 (639): p.84-85. July 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "フリーゲージトレイン実験線を開設、JR西" [JR West to build a Gauge Change Train test track]. Tetsudo.com (in Japanese). Japan: Asahi Interactive Inc. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

External links[edit]