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Doctor Yellow – A Special Shinkansen (Bullet Train): What’s so great about it?

Date Published: Travel & View point , ,

Shinkansen (bullet train) is usually color white in Japan.


But you can see a yellow one on rare occasions.

Doctor Yellow

It is called “Doctor Yellow”.


Doctor Yellow is a special vehicle whose role is to check any problems on the equipments of shinkasen.
Because it’s so rare, Doctor Yellow is very popular and there is a rumor that it brings happiness to people who see it.

Abilities of Doctor Yellow

The role of Doctor Yellow is to measure electrical system, tracks and facility system, and check whether there is any problem.

Doctor Yellow is a 7-car bullet train and has 2 units.

  • Unit 1: Cars 1-3
  • Unit 2: Cars 5-7
  • Car 4 is in between the two units.


The roles of each car are as follows:

Roles of Car 1

To measure and gather data on the following:

  • track conditions (such as alignment)
  • railway signals
  • communication equipment
  • related substations


Role of Car 2

To measure the wear on the overhead lines.


Roles of Car 3

To supply power to each car of Unit 1 that is needed to perform the measurements.
To process the data collected by each car.

※It’s also where the staff restroom is located.


Role of Car 4

To measure the dimension of tracks.
To process the data collected from tracks.

※Equipped with an ultra-high-precision sensor, Doctor Yellow can detect 0.1mm deviation on tracks while running at speed of 270km per hour.
※By the way, only this car’s roof has been painted in white.


Role of Car 5

The same as Car 3.


Role of Car 6

The same as Car 2.


Role of Car 7

The same as Car 1.


Surprisingly, Doctor Yellow can travel at 270 kilometers per hour, the same speed as a passenger bullet train, while performing the measurements.

This makes it possible to do its tasks, running on passenger train rails, during business hours.

Doctor Yellow has only 9 crews on board.
There is one conductor, one driver, four crews to check the electrical system and three crews to check the tracks and facilities.

The measurement results are then transmitted to the maintenance office and maintenance work is carried out based on these results at night on the same day.


To see the real thing

Doctor Yellow only runs 3 times in a month on “Nozomi” timetable and once in two months on “Kodama” timetable. So, you only have 3-4 (plus returns on the next day) chances in a month to see Doctor Yellow. Unfortunately, Japan Railways (JR) does not publish the running schedule.

Your only option is to rely on schedule and timetable predicted by train fans.
For example:Doctor Yellow’s timetable estimation 1/3 – Shinkansen Timetable

There is really no assurance that you’ll see it.
Only those people who were lucky to be in the right place and at the right time can see it.

So, I can understand why there is a rumor that “Spotting Doctor Yellow brings happiness.”


Oh, well, of course you have to come to Japan first. (LOL)


And, lastly

If you can’t come to Japan, another way is to watch it on video.
We managed to take one, so take a look.

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