Invisible Trains

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

For Japan, the Shinkansen (新幹線, new trunk line) has been an iconic image since its worldwide debut over 50 years ago.  But now, Japan is experimenting with a different image altogether - the Invisible Train. Japanese train-travel company Seibu Railway hopes to make a major design leap in time for their 100th anniversary; a new line of fast commuter trains that “blend into the landscape.”


The trains aren’t really “invisible” - Seibu’s new trains won’t really be “invisible” so much as “reflective,” but a simulated disappearing act is the goal of the project.  Architect Kazuyo Sejima – a Pritzker Prize laureate best known for her work with Japanese firm SANAA – was commissioned by the Seibu Group to design a train for the company's 100th anniversary.  She has never designed a train before.  


Seibu Group owns Seibu Railways, which operates around 180 kilometres of railway networks around Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture.  The exterior’s active camouflage is only vaguely described as coated with “a semi-reflective surface.”  The Japanese architect will redesign both the exterior and interior of the company's Red Arrow commuter train.  The vehicles themselves will be built by Hitachi, Ltd which contributed to the development of the original Shinkansen.  


The ‘invisible’ train celebrates Seibu Railway's 100th anniversary.