Two years have passed since I assumed the chairmanship of Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) in November 1998. During this period, RTRI actively promoted research activities.
In October 1999, the 4th World Congress on Railway Research was held at RTRI, Kunitachi, where distinguished guests from various countries gave lectures and researchers presented reports on railway technologies. This Conference was held first in France, then in the US and in Italy for the third time. After the Conference at Kunitachi, Federal Railroad Administrator of the Department of Transportation, US, Vice President of DB, Chief Executive of UIC, and other leading members in the railway companies in Europe and US all visited the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line, boarded the test train, and highly evaluated the test results of the Maglev systems.
In the study of the Maglev systems, which started at Kunitachi in 1962, full-scale test running has been repeated on the Yamanashi Test Line since 1997 to attain a speed of 552km/h, a world record in train operation, in April 1999, and a relative speed of 1003km/h between two trains passing-by. The test train has run over 100,000km so far. More than 13,000 people have already experienced boarding the test train, including Ministers of Transport in the past and at present, Diet members and leading members of JR companies and the other companies and leaders in foreign countries. The Ministry of Transport has organized Technical Committee for Evaluation to study the feasibility of the systems as a national project.
In its 1994 report, the Council for Transport Technology, Ministry of Transport, proposed to develop a gauge change train for through-operation between standard- and narrow-gauge lines, in order to shorten journey time and improve the convenience of railway travel. According to this proposal, as a contract-basis project from Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation, RTRI had promoted researches on a gauge change train and developed gauge change EMUs, which were tested on the local line in West Japan Railway Company and have been subject to a high-speed running test for over 400,000km on the test course at Pueblo, US, since 1999 spring.
More than 300 people, including Diet members and leading members of the government and JR companies, have already visited the high-speed running test course at Pueblo. It is planned to construct a test line on Shinkansen line next year to promote gauge change EMUs.
In 1999 December, a seminar was held in Taipei on earthquake-proof techniques for high-speed railways. After my keynote address on the earthquake proof techniques for Tokaido Shinkansen, papers were presented on Taiwan earthquake by those from the Ministry of Transport, Taiwan, and on earthquake proof techniques for high-speed railway by those from RTRI and Central Japan Railway Company. This seminar played an important role to promote the high-speed railway construction plan thereafter.
We are now making the best efforts for the development of railway technology as outlined above. Your unchanged cooperation and understanding for the activities of RTRI will be highly appreciated.