JR-East to advise on HS2

Japan’s high-speed rail operator East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) has been awarded an advisory role on HS2.

JR-East is to offer both “technical and management” advice to the £46 billion project from its new UK office, which is set to open on April 15.

Announcing the contract award, JR-East said it will consult on issues such as reliability, safety and punctuality, and areas like station management, noise countermeasures and construction issues.

The statement said: “Throughout the consultancy JR-East will draw on its considerable expertise and experience operating the world’s most established and safest high-speed rail system, the Shinkansen.”

Headquartered in Tokyo, JR-East currently operates nearly 1,700 stations in Japan, catering for around 17 million passengers and overseeing around 13,000 train journeys every day.

Japan’s Shinkansen network is not only the oldest high-speed network in the world, it is also the safest, with zero passenger fatalities since the launch of the very first line in 1964.

HS2 Ltd and JR-East agreed a contract for consultancy works on January 31.

Masaki Ogata, vice chairman of JR-East, said: “We anticipate a fantastic future for high speed rail both in the UK and in throughout Europe.

“Opening our new London office at this exciting time is the right thing for JR-East and means we can more easily support our clients, partners and suppliers.

“We look forward to helping HS2 and to contributing to the success of high speed rail in the UK. JR-East has the experience, expertise and enthusiasm to contribute greatly to the smooth and successful implementation of the HS2 project.”

JR-East is not the only Japanese rail enterprise branching out into the European market. Last month, Hitachi announced that it would be moving its headquarters from Tokyo to London, a move designed to develop its operations in the UK and Europe.

Professor Andrew McNaughton, technical director of HS2 Ltd, said: “HS2 is an enormous undertaking. It is the largest and most complex infrastructure project ever in the UK. So, it is essential we explore the best ways in which we can learn from international experience.

“JR-East is respected across the world, having been part of a high speed rail transport system connecting Japan’s biggest cities that has run to the highest degrees of comfort, reliability and safety for 50 years. We are very pleased to be working with one of the world’s great experts.”

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to open up a dialogue to help the US learn how to design, build, operate and maintain a high-speed railway.

Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) is also hoping to develop a 500km/h Superconducting Maglev, on the US east coast between New York and Washington.