The newest Shinkansen model, denoted the E7 Series, began its run on Saturday, March 15. I got a chance to ride the new train on Sunday the 16th.
This new series has been built to replace the current E2 series being used on the Nagano Shinkansen line. It will also be used on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, scheduled to open in 2015. The Hokuriku Shinkansen will provide high-speed service from Nagano to Kanazawa on the Japan Sea coast.
Running in a twelve-car arrangement and topping out at 275kph, the new series is an improvement in comfort and service from the previous design. It has three classes of cars: Gran Class, Green Car and Standard Car. All seats in all classes have adjustable headrests and an electrical outlet — one per seat — for charging a notebook computer, tablet or mobile phone.
The standard car seats appear to be the same width as before, but with considerably more legroom. Upholstery and interior design is much more contemporary, yet still with a Japanese feel to it.
Any shortcomings? Only one that I noticed. The windows are smaller than on the E2 train. But I didn’t take note of this until after I got off the train at Nagano Station and did a side-by-side comparison with an E2. And since I was only on board for thirty minutes, I didn’t take time to see the restrooms. Maybe next time.
It’s a nice improvement from before. It should make getting to and from Nagano even more enjoyable!