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New-generation bullet train relies on NSK bearings

08 March 2021

High-performance bearings from NSK are now operational in the newly developed N700S Shinkansen (bullet train), which began service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka on 1 July 2020.

The N700S marks the start of a new era, being the first completely new Shinkansen design from the Central Japan Railway Company in 13 years. 

NSK bearings underpin the train’s no-compromise focus on safety, stability, comfort and environmental performance. Bearings for railway applications contribute directly to safe operation and travel. High reliability is key, as is the ability to support elevated speeds, improve energy efficiency and reduce maintenance requirements. The demands placed on railway bearings are especially apparent in bullet trains, which transport large numbers of passengers at high speeds over long distances. Applications of this type call for highly efficient and durable bearings, along with meticulous quality control in all production processes.

The ‘S’ suffix of the new-generation N700S bullet train stands for ‘Supreme’, signifying the progression in design, technology and comfort. High-performance bearings from NSK can be found in the gearbox, axle and traction motor assemblies. 

Regarding the gearbox, the N700S is the first Shinkansen to replace helical gears with herringbone gears, which offer increased reliability and lower noise output. Gearbox bearings are subject to intense shocks and vibration, so exhibiting a long operational life under these conditions is a priority. NSK has been supplying tapered roller bearings for helical gears in bullet trains for decades. Drawing on this experience, the company has designed a special flanged cylindrical roller bearing for the N700S’s herringbone gears, that delivers longer life, lower heat generation and reduced maintenance compared with the previous generation product.

Read the full article in the March issue of DPA.

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