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Old 11-02-2011, 05:09 PM
Chromatix Chromatix is offline
Computer Wizard
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Helsinki
Posts: 3,105
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A train crossing a substantial fraction of Japan doesn't really strike me as commuter service. Most likely the split was only announced in Japanese though, thus explaining why our intrepid presenters (whose only knowledge of Japanese is motorcycle brands) didn't know about it.

The two splitter trains that I'm sure are still in use are: the Scottish sleeper trains, which split (and combine on the return journey) at Carstairs and Edinburgh; and some Pendolino services from Helsinki which split at Tampere to save traffic slots on the busiest part of the network - but they usually don't join on the return journey, because the couplers are not totally reliable, especially in bad weather. Both of these are very thoroughly intercity services.

Re-forming a train at the terminus is pretty common though. Sometimes a commuter train will arrive at Helsinki, but won't even open the doors until it has coupled to the train already in the platform (which is plainly obvious to the passengers inside due to the bump as the couplers connect). This means that the outgoing train will be longer than the incoming one, and thus able to carry more passengers for the peak hours. Meanwhile, the gap in the timetable will have been filled by a spare train - also lengthened - from a nearby siding.

Of course, re-forming a train without auto-couplers is a bit more involved than that, generally because a man wearing neon opposite-of-camo has to get down on the track and swear at some infeasibly large and greasy pieces of metal. That's workable for a sleeper, but not much else these days, at least while in mid-journey.