Photo/IllutrationA lithium ion battery to be installed in the N700 S-series Shinkansen train (Provided by JR Tokai)

Next-generation Shinkansen railroad cars will come equipped with a lithium ion battery to enable travel over short distances when power outages render normal operations impossible.

The aim is to allow a bullet train to move to another location to disgorge passengers in the event of an emergency, such as an earthquake that leads to power outages and causes Shinkansen trains to stop on top of bridges or within tunnels.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) announced plans to develop the new battery system for the N700 S-series that is expected to begin operations in fiscal 2020.

The battery will give the train sufficient juice to travel several kilometers at a speed of about 30 kph. It could also be used when trains are being moved for inspections and maintenance within a rail yard.

The battery will be jointly developed with Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corp. and other entities.

Once the battery is developed, trial runs are envisaged later this year. The new N700 S-series will be a much lighter version of conventional Shinkansen trains, thus easing the power strain on the lithium ion batteries.

The 16-car N700 A-series now in service on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line weighs about 713 tons, but the N700 S-series is expected to come in under 700 tons for the same number of cars.

JR Tokai President Koei Tsuge said, "This system only works because the new rail car will be lighter. It will be the accumulation of many years of research focusing on lighter railway technology."