Thursday, 19 October 2017

The 50th Anniversary of the Keio-Takao Line

Passing through Takao Daini Tunnel, the EMU Keio 9000 series arrives at Takao-sanguchi Station

On October 1st, Keio Electric Railway Company celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Takao Line. It was opened on October 1st in 1967 between Kitano and Takao-sanguchi. The Keio-Takao Line is a branch route of the Keio Main Line. The route length is 8.6 km. The track is double, but partly single. The gauge size is 1,372 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The section between Kitano and Yamada is the revival route of the ex-Keio-Goryo Line, which was abolished in 1945 due to the chaos of WWII.

The Keio-Takao Line has two faces, one as a city line for urban commuters, and one as a local line for hikers. There are many new residential areas on the eastern section between Kitano and Takao; while there is a natural forest on the western section between Takao and Takao-sanguchi, which is the gateway station to Mt. Takao. As I posted before, Mt. Takao is a popular sightseeing spot in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Recently, not only Japanese, but also foreign hikers flock to this suburban mountain.

I like the Keio-Takao Line, specifically its western section. After leaving Takao, a west bound train enters into the darkness of the Takao Daiichi Tunnel. After passing through it, a fine view of the forest area bursts into the passengers' sight. The train then passes through another tunnel named Takao-Daini Tunnel and arrives at Takao-sanguchi Terminal. This kaleidoscopic change is my favorite.

Toward the next half century, the Keio-Takao Line is going to go on.

Leaving Takao-sanguchi Station, the EMU Keio 8000 series enters into Takao Daini Tunnel

Monday, 16 October 2017

2017 Urban Greening Fair in Hachiouji

EMU JR East E233-6000 series arrives at Hachiouji-Minamino Station

It is mid-October already. A year passes quickly. Taking the pictures of the "New Year Express" on the Keio Line seems like only yesterday. Now, it is a nice time for strolling, neither too hot nor too cold.

My recent destination was Hachiouji in the western part of the Tokyo Metropolis. Currently, the 2017 Urban Greening Fair is being held there. What is the Urban Greening Fair? It is an annual event held by the Organization for Landscape and Urban Green Infrastructure to promote greening in the urban areas. Hachiouji City hosts the event this year, because Hachiouji is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its municipality. I saw whole new flower beds here and there in the city. Many events, for example an exhibition of home garden samples, were also held in the main venue.

To visit Hachiouji, I took the JR East Yokohama Line. The Yokohama Line is one of the main transportation arteries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Higashi-Kanagawa and Hachiouji, the route length is 42.6km. The track is double and electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overheard. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. 

Currently, all the commuter trains on the Yokohama Line are operated with green colored 8-car trains of the EMU E233-6000 series. All the previous trains, namely the EMU 205 series, were moved to Jakarta, Indonesia in 2014. Three years later, the green colored E233-6000 series has already blended with the cityscape of Hachioji.

Trains in Hachiouji are also greened.

Katakura-tsudoinomori Park near Hachiouji-Minamino Station on the JR East Yokohama Line

Friday, 13 October 2017

Standard Commuter Train on Kyushu Island

EMU JR Kyushu 811 series stands at Mojiko station yard

JR Kyushu is the largest railway company on Kyushu Island. It was established in 1987 following the breakup and privatization of Japanese National Railways. When JR Kyushu was launched, many economic analysts pointed out that this company would soon face severe managing conditions, since its railway network was located in underpopulated areas with low transport density. 29 years later, however, the performance of JR Kyushu was much better than what the economic analysts had predicted. As a result, JR Kyushu was listed in the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on October 16, 2016.

The EMU 811 series is the first commuter train developed by JR Kyushu. It is a 4-car train for 20 kV and 60 Hz alternate current tracks. A total of 28 sets, 112 units, were built by Kinki Sharyo, Hitachi and JR Kyushu Kokura Factory from 1989 to 1993. The 811 series has a thyristor phase electric control system with direct current motors. It was a rather old system, so that some of the 811 series were recently renovated with VVVF inverter (variable-frequency drive) electric control systems.

The EMU 811 series has become a driving force of JR Kyushu's company growth. Replacing the old 415 series, it has been playing the leading role of urban transportation in Fukuoka and Kita-Kyushu cities. Although new commuter trains, such as the EMU 813 and 817 series, have appeared one after another, the 811 series still keeps the main position of the JR Kyushu's standard commuter trains.

EMU JR Kyushu 813 series (left, red colored) and the 811 series