Although gas-and-electric hybrid automobiles are already touted as a way to fight global warming, the JR East's hybrid train is the first of its kind in the world, Harada said. The new technology helps reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter by up to 60 percent, compared to conventional trains, Harada said.
It cuts fuel consumption by up to 20 percent, and also runs more quietly. "It is our responsibility to help reduce global warming by running environmentally friendly means of transportation," Harada said. Harada said JR East, as the company is also known, study the train's performance on the 48.9 mile Koumi Line, which passes through mountain resorts, before deciding whether to mass produce the hybrid train cars. Starting Dec. 4, similar trains will be operated on the Tsugaru, Ominato and Goto lines in Aomori and Akita prefectures. On Saturday, a launching ceremony was held at JR Nagano Station, attended by the prefecture's governor, Shuichi Abe. (The Japan Times)