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Class E956 "ALFA-X"
ALFA-X image 20170704.jpg
An artist's impression of the new train showing the two different nose end styles
ManufacturerHitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Entered serviceMay 9, 2019
Number built1 set (10 vehicles)
Formation10 cars
Fleet numbersS13
Operator(s)JR East
Car length24,500 mm (80 ft 5 in) (intermediate cars)
26,250 mm (86 ft 1 in) (end cars)
Width3,350 mm (11 ft 0 in)
Height3,700 mm (12 ft 2 in)
Maximum speed400 km/h (250 mph) (nominal)
Electric system(s)25 kV AC railway electrification, 50 Hz
Current collection methodOverhead catenary
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The Class E956 (E956形), branded "ALFA-X" is a ten-car experimental Shinkansen train operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in Japan to test technology to be incorporated into future shinkansen trains operating in service at speeds of up to 360 km/h (225 mph). The name is an acronym for "Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation".[1] The first train was unveiled on May 9, 2019.[2]


The experimental trainset is being tested at speeds of up to around 400 km/h (250 mph) to evaluate new technologies to be incorporated into new trains to operate in revenue service at speeds of up to 360 km/h (225 mph).[3] It tests new technologies including dampers to reduce vibration and reduce the likelihood of derailment in major earthquakes.[3] It also tests body designs that reduce snow adherence in wintry conditions.[3]

The E956 train evaluates two different end car nose profiles, just like the earlier Fastech 360.[4] The nose of car 1 is 16 meters long, and is similar to the nose of the E5 Series Shinkansen, while the nose of car 10 has a brand new design, and is 22 meters long, with only 4.5 meters remaining for passengers with three rows of seating.[5] The E956 features eddy current brakes and "cat ear" brakes, similar to those on the Fastech 360.


JR East officially announced its plans to build a ten-car ALFA-X train on 4 July 2017, to be delivered in spring 2019 for extensive testing and evaluation.[1] The first train was unveiled in May 9, 2019.[2]


  1. ^ a b "JR East to build ALFA-X 360 km/h Shinkansen testbed". Railway Gazette. 7 July 2017. Archived from the original on 18 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b Geuss, Megan (10 May 2019). "Japanese railway company starts testing 249mph bullet train speeds". Ars Technica. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Kusamachi, Yoshikazu (4 July 2017). JR東日本の新幹線試験車「ALFA-X」2019年春完成…「営業360km/h」を検証へ [New "ALFA-X" JR East experimental shinkansen train to be completed in spring 2019 - to test operations at 360 km/h]. Response (in Japanese). Japan: IID Inc. Archived from the original on 18 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  4. ^ Ueshin, Daisuke (4 July 2017). JR東日本E956形"ALFA-X"新幹線試験車両を新造、360km/h運転の可能性も検証 [JR East to build "ALFA-X" experimental shinkansen train to evaluate feasibility of operations at 360 km/h]. Mynavi News (in Japanese). Japan: Mynavi Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  5. ^ "ALFA-X nose is 22 m long". Railway Gazette. DVV Media International Ltd. 14 February 2019.

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