|Class E956 "ALFA-X"|
|Manufacturer||Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries|
|Entered service||May 9, 2019|
|Number built||1 set (10 vehicles)|
|Line(s) served||Tohoku Shinkansen|
|Car length||24.5 m (80 ft 5 in) (intermediate cars)|
26.25 m (86 ft 1 in) (end cars)
|Width||3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)|
|Height||3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)|
|Maximum speed||400 km/h (249 mph)|
|Traction system||500 kW (671 hp) motors |
(4 per car)
|Power output||12 MW (16,092 hp)|
|Electric system(s)||25 kV AC,50 Hertz Overhead catenary|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
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 trains operating at speeds of up to 360 km/h (220 mph). The name is an acronym for "Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation". The first train was unveiled on May 9, 2019. The Plarail (series of toy trains) "Ippai Tsunago" Shinkansen Test Train ALFA-X began to be sold on December 26, 2019. Its test run is mainly performed in sections between Sendai and Shin-Aomori of the Tohoku Shinkansen line, and, in some cases, on the Hokkaido Shinkansen line.
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). These technologies include dampers to reduce vibration and the likelihood of derailment in major earthquakes. It also tests body designs that reduce snow adherence.
The E956 train evaluates two different end car nose profiles, just like the earlier Fastech 360. The nose of car 1 is 16 meters long, and is a brand new design, while the nose of car 10 is similar to the E5 Series Shinkansen and H5 Series Shinkansen, but is 22 meters long, with only 4.5 meters remaining for passengers with three rows of seating. The E956 features eddy current brakes and an aerodynamic braking system attached to the car's roof, called air brakes or spoilers.
JR East officially announced its plans to build a ten-car ALFA-X test train on 4 July 2017, to be delivered in spring 2019 for extensive testing and evaluation. The finished train was unveiled on May 9, 2019.
The train reached a speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) in May 2019, matching the top operating speed of the fastest services on the line. By June that same year, the train was regularly measured to be running at 360 km/h (220 mph) by rail enthusiasts.
The train was first observed running at the announced top planned test speed of 400 km/h (250 mph) on December 14, 2019.
The train was observed in Hokkaido for cold weather testing on February 12, 2020 and February 3, 2021.
The train reached a speed of 382 km/h (237 mph) on October 27, 2020, on the rail stretch between Sendai and Morioka.