How does timetabling work for the Shinkansen?

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Bayum

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Been watching a few videos of various shinkansen stations recently and one thing that came to mind was how timetabling works, particularly on some routes where you have various modes of traction, some that don't hit linespeed.
I know we have a similar job here in the UK with various modes of traction on the ECML and WCML but they have good levels of quad track that the Shinkansen doesn't.
 
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Ianno87

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When you say "some that don't hit linespeed" was there a route in particular you are thinking of?
 

Gag Halfrunt

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they have good levels of quad track that the Shinkansen doesn't.

If you're asking about how trains overtake each other, the answer, IIRC, is that only stations served by every train have their platforms on the main line. Other stations have four tracks with platforms on the outside (never island platforms between tracks), keeping passengers a safe distance away from non-stop trains and allowing trains to pass the station at line speed.

For instance, Odawara Station is skipped by all Nozomi and some Hikari trains, so it has four tracks.


All trains stop at Nagoya Station, so it has two tracks and a wide island platform.

 

HSTEd

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Been watching a few videos of various shinkansen stations recently and one thing that came to mind was how timetabling works, particularly on some routes where you have various modes of traction, some that don't hit linespeed.
I know we have a similar job here in the UK with various modes of traction on the ECML and WCML but they have good levels of quad track that the Shinkansen doesn't.

Even the stopping sets have enormous installed powers and huge numbers of motored axles.
The Standard is 75% of the axles motored, and the older 500 series Shinkansen sets were all axles motored, it appears the 800 Series is too.

They have acceleration performance that stopping trains in Britain can only dream of.

Timetabling is a bit easier when even your stopping trains can manage 100mph average
 

upnorth71

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As HSTEd explained above, the Kodama stopping services use trainsets with the same performance as the faster Hikari and Nozomi services (JR Central has standardized all services on the N700 series). This is necessary as the Kodama services have to take pathings that weave through the faster train pathings. After a Kodama service departs a certain station, it has to sprint to the next station in order for the timed overtake to occur. Once at that station, it will wait for the faster service (or two) to pass. This stop may take up to ten or eleven minutes. This process is repeated at many stations as the train makes it deliberate journey to its final destination. Highly recommended to take such a train as an introduction to the service pattern and to get a "feel" for the working timetable.

If you look at the overall Tokaido Shinkansen timetable, you have the AM and evening peaks, with a mid-day "pattern daiya" or interval timetable- not exactly a strict clockface 0, 15 or 30 min timetable, but rather a slightly more granular pattern of services repeating themselves at particular minutes on the hour. During the peaks, you will have the fastest Nozomi services "convoying" on each other to maintain a high frequency service and low headways. In the off peak, you will have 4 Nozomi, 2 Hikari and 2 Kodama services more or less alternating with each other, with a Nozomi service always at the top of the hour and the Kodama services at the half hour and towards the end of the hour. The balance of Nozomi and Hikari services fill up the remainder. This division into two distinct types of service patterns is common on Japanese railways with peaky passenger demand, such as the Tokaido Shinkansen (70% of pax are business travellers) and the many private (for profit) railways which feed suburban commuters into the urban core.
 
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306024

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A good few years ago a delegation of Japanese railway staff paid a visit. There were a couple of planners amongst them, and they came bearing gifts of timetable graphs and drivers schedule cards. This was before Network Rail’s Train Planning System was developed, and in the TOC all our planning was done by timetables rather than graphs.

They were very polite (as you would assume) but even through an interpreter you could tell they were incredulous that we had no computer generated timetable graphs. However once we had discussed the cultural differences, the core requirements for timetable planning were identical. Their routine maintenance opportunities were written into the plan, so they were also surprised at how much alteration we did on a weekly basis.

The timetable graphs they left were a work of art, incredibly detailed, and certainly needed a trained eye to grasp all the information. The drivers schedule card though was no different in principle to what our drivers were using. Shame the opportunity of a return visit never happened.
 

WideRanger

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As HSTEd explained above, the Kodama stopping services use trainsets with the same performance as the faster Hikari and Nozomi services (JR Central has standardized all services on the N700 series). This is necessary as the Kodama services have to take pathings that weave through the faster train pathings. After a Kodama service departs a certain station, it has to sprint to the next station in order for the timed overtake to occur. Once at that station, it will wait for the faster service (or two) to pass. This stop may take up to ten or eleven minutes. This process is repeated at many stations as the train makes it deliberate journey to its final destination. Highly recommended to take such a train as an introduction to the service pattern and to get a "feel" for the working timetable.

If you look at the overall Tokaido Shinkansen timetable, you have the AM and evening peaks, with a mid-day "pattern daiya" or interval timetable- not exactly a strict clockface 0, 15 or 30 min timetable, but rather a slightly more granular pattern of services repeating themselves at particular minutes on the hour. During the peaks, you will have the fastest Nozomi services "convoying" on each other to maintain a high frequency service and low headways. In the off peak, you will have 4 Nozomi, 2 Hikari and 2 Kodama services more or less alternating with each other, with a Nozomi service always at the top of the hour and the Kodama services at the half hour and towards the end of the hour. The balance of Nozomi and Hikari services fill up the remainder. This division into two distinct types of service patterns is common on Japanese railways with peaky passenger demand, such as the Tokaido Shinkansen (70% of pax are business travellers) and the many private (for profit) railways which feed suburban commuters into the urban core.
I remember talking with with one of the JR East executives at around the time they were changing to the policy of having only one train type on the busiest section between Tokyo and Osaka. Before that, the Kodama (stopping) sets tended to be much older cascaded 100 series or 300 series, and often shorter sets. But making everything have similar characteristics made timetabling much easier. And he explained that it meant they could easily switch a set meant for a Kodama working into a Hikari or Nozomi working in just a couple of minutes, if there was a problem with the booked train.

So now there are 16-car trains doing Kodama all-stops with the sort of stopping pattern (and slow journey times) described by @upnorth71 . There isn't the natural demand for all of those seats outside of the peak, so no there is a parallel ticketing industry selling heavily discounted tickets to fill those trains, aimed at people with a bit more time. So expect older people and students, in general. You won't find them on the normal timetables - they are normally sold as 'specials', and often bundled in with tickets to museums or with accommodation. So, if you are going to Japan, and want a cheap ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto, seek them out. Much cheaper than getting a JR Rail pass. And it is amazing how quickly the time passes if stock up on enough Sake in the shop at the station.
 

HSTEd

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If you're asking about how trains overtake each other, the answer, IIRC, is that only stations served by every train have their platforms on the main line. Other stations have four tracks with platforms on the outside (never island platforms between tracks), keeping passengers a safe distance away from non-stop trains and allowing trains to pass the station at line speed.

Sorry to dig this thread up, but this strategy seems to have been somewhat abandoned on newer Shinkansen lines, with their lower traffic densities.
For example on the Kyushu Shinkansen, many of the minor stations appear to have been built with only platforms on the running lines.
 

Gag Halfrunt

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I actually noticed that on a video of trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen in winter (source)


The station in the video has barriers and doors at the platform edge, so perhaps that is why it is allowed.
 

whoosh

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If you load this up in Chrome web browser, it'll translate it to English.
It contains information about the timetable graphs - that on certain timetables even show symbols down to five second increments!

 

Ianno87

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Sorry to dig this thread up, but this strategy seems to have been somewhat abandoned on newer Shinkansen lines, with their lower traffic densities.
For example on the Kyushu Shinkansen, many of the minor stations appear to have been built with only platforms on the running lines.

Although from a quick glance the frequency of service on the Kyushu line is relatively low, so the capacity advantage of platform loops is diminished, as you don't really need them for the frequency of trains.
 

HSTEd

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Although from a quick glance the frequency of service on the Kyushu line is relatively low, so the capacity advantage of platform loops is diminished, as you don't really need them for the frequency of trains.
It does seem that Japan is now building Shinkansen primarily for regional development and travel times reasons, rather than acpacity.

Like if we built a High Speed line to Cornwall......
It's not been built with 400m platforms either.
 
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