The gauge-changeable EMUs (free-gauge train) attained the targeted maximum speed of 130km/h on narrow-gauge sections in the speed up grade and sharp-curve running tests on the JR Nippo line on November 23, 2002. This finish the schedule planned for this fiscal year, after running about 2,786km on revenue service lines and testing gauge changing operation 1,558 times.
In cooperation with JR West and JR Kyushu, RTRI started the running test of the train in 2001 October, implemented gauge changing operation 1,558 times at the GCT test site, Shinshimonoseki maintenance base, JR West, and sent the train to the Kokura workshop, JR Kyushu, on October 4, 2002, to execute speed up grade tests on the Nishikokura-Shindenbaru section, JR Nippo line, during the time zone when revenue service trains were not operated at night. RTRI also carried out tests to confirm the sharp-curve negotiating performance of the train on the Beppu-Saiki section in the Oita district on October 13, and speed up grade tests to 130km/h again on the Nishikokura-Shindenbaru section on November 13 to complete the schedule of this fiscal year.
Led by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (former Ministry of Transport), RTRI had developed the free-gauge train under a contract with Japan Railway Construction Corporation. In 1998 October, RTRI finally adjusted the components on the train in its premises, and conducted a preliminary narrow-gauge operation test at 100km/h on the Yonago-Yasugi section, San-in line, JR West, in and after 1999 January, and a standard-gauge endurance test at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado USA, from April 1999 to the end of 2001 January. At the Pueblo test facility, the train recorded a maximum speed of 246km/h, cumulative running distance of about 600,000km and gauge-changing operation about 2,000 times.
A new test track and gauge-changing equipment, which are now under construction at the Shin-yatsushiro station (tentative name), Kyushu Shinkansen, will complete this fiscal year for Shinkansen/narrow-gauge line through-operation of the free-gauge train. To more closely simulate actual revenue service trains, another free-gauge train equipped with a tilting mechanism is also being developed led by the Technology Research Association of Gauge Changing Train established last year.
Photo: GCT running on a revenue service line in the suburbs of Oita
Photo : Gauge-changing equipment installed at the GCT test site