Thursday 13 June 2024

Class D52: Preserved SL in Sagamihara City

Unit 235 of the steam locomotive Class D52 is preserved in Kanuma Park

Following the "slug locomotive" in Nagareyama City of Chiba Prefecture, I'm going to show you the other rare steam locomotive (SL). That's Unit 235 of the Class D52 (D52 235), preserved in Kanuma Park, Sagamihara City of Kanagawa Prefecture.

To start, let me quickly review the Class D52. It's a 2-8-2 (Whyte notation) type SL that has a tender attached. A total of 285 units of the Class D52 were built from 1943 to 1946 in the closing days of World War II. It's 21.105 meters long, and weighs 74.42 tons. The driving wheel diameter is 1,400 millimeters. It produces an output of 1,433kW and a maximum speed of 85 kilometers per hour. Their main function was to pull 1,200 ton-class heavy freight trains.

Let's get down to the main topic. D52 235, which is currently preserved in Kanuma Park, was built by Kawasaki-sharyo in 1946. After operating for 27 years, it was retired from the track in 1973. D52 235 was then taken over by Sagamihara City in 1975. When I saw it in the park, I was surprised that this SL has a very large boiler. In contrast, the smokestack was very small. It's probably because the size of the D52 had to be kept under the limits of the vehicle. Another surprise was D53 235 had a very good state of preservation. It's maintained by a local volunteers' group named "Sagamihara D52 Preservation Society". I would like to thank everyone involved in preserving D52 235 in Sagamihara City.

Back view of D52 235 in Kanuma Park of Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Monday 10 June 2024

Carp-shaped Banners on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 211-3000 series arrives at Nishi-Hachioji station

It's a bit of an unseasonal topic, but I'm going to show you a traditional event. The 5th of May was Children's Day in Japan. In this season, parents celebrate their children's birth and pray for their healthy growth by putting up carp-shaped banners, named "Koinobori", in their gardens. When a carp heads upstream, he (or she) uses his (or her) power to jump over obstacles, even waterfalls, so, Koinobori is a symbol of power for children to grow up. In recent years, Koinoboris are not only put up in private gardens, but also stretched above rivers as local events. I found plenty of Koinoboris at Higashi-Asakawa River in Hachioji City, some 50 kilometers west of the city center of Tokyo. They were flying above the stream whipping in the gentle breeze. It seems like they were feeling pretty good.                                         

To visit this local event, the nearest railway station is Nishi-Hachioji on the JR East-Chuo line. Taking this opportunity, I'm going to show you an unusual train stopping at Nishi-Hachioji station. That's a local train, the EMU JR East 211-3000 series, bound for Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. It has stainless-steel bodies with light blue and emerald-colored stripes, which are called “Nagano colors”. Different from the standard commuter trains, the 211-3000 series consists of only 6 cars, as it's operated mainly in the sparsely populated countryside. It takes 4 hours 10 minutes from Nishi-Hachioji to Matsumoto terminal, but never mind. Sitting on the comfortable seat, you will enjoy beautiful mountain scenery inland. Have a fun trip!

Carp-shaped banners are stretched above Higashi-Asakawa river

Friday 7 June 2024

Extra Rare Subway Spot on the Ginza Line: Part 2

EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series leaves Shibuya Depot on the Ginza line

Do you remember when I introduced you to an extra rare subway spot on the Ginza line two years ago. That was a railway crossing on the "subway" Tokyo Metro-Ginza line. It's located on the siding track between the underground main track and Ueno Depot on the ground. Today, I'm going to introduce you to another extra rare spot on the Ginza line. That's an "elevated track" of the Ginza line.

You may want to say, "An elevated track... so what? It's not rare at all!" OK. I can provide you more details. There certainly are several elevated tracks on the "subway" lines in Tokyo. Higashi-Ojima on the subway Toei-Shinjuku line, which I posted two years ago, is a good example, but what about the Ginza line? Please look at the top photo. That's the only one elevated track section on the Ginza line. Moreover, it's not a main track, but a siding track between Shibuya Depot and Shibuya terminal. Is it easy to see a train passing through this elevated track? No, it isn't. Firstly, we have to look for a train viewing spot. I found it on the 8th floor of a shopping building, named "Hikarie". Secondly, the timetable of deadhead trains to and from Shibuya Depot are not made public. I eventually found that a deadhead train leaves the depot, and passes through this elevated track at 4.26pm on weekdays.

Please enjoy the subway Ginza line train traveling on the extra rare elevated track.

Distant view of the elevated track, subway Tokyo Metro-Ginza line 

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Tokyu "Shinkansen" Trains

Set 4105 of the EMU Tokyu 5050 series, Shinkansen-colored train

Railway companies sometimes use the other companies' color designs for their own trains. The purposes of that are joint campaigns to promote tourism to their lines, or simply to deepen the friendship of two companies. For example, Seibu Railway uses their sister companies' color designs for their Tamagawa line trains. Furthermore, Seibu once used Keikyu's color design for their own train as a token of friendship. That was the "Lucky Red Train" in 2014. As you know, Seibu and Keikyu are good competitors in the metropolitan area. On the other hand, Keikyu used Taiwan Railway Administration's color design for their own train in 2016 in accordance with a Friendship and Cooperation Agreement.

Let's get down to the main topic. Tokyu Railway recently launched Shinkansen-colored trains on their Meguro and Toyoko lines one after another. They are Set 3123 of the EMU 3020 series on the Meguro line and Set 4105 of the EMU 5050 series on the Toyoko line. As I posted before, Tokyu inaugurated a new line, named the Shinyokohama line, in March, 2023. Transfer from the Tokyu lines to the Tokaido Shinkansen has become much easier using Shinyokohama station on the Tokyu-Shinyokohama line. The purposes of these Shinkansen-colored trains are the first anniversary and the promotion of the Tokyu-Shinyokohama line. For your information, some of the trains on the Tokyu-Meguro and Toyoko lines are directly operated onto the Shinyokohama line.

Tokyu "Shinkansen" Trains were realized by cooperation of JR Central, which is the operator of the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Set 3123 of the EMU Tokyu 3020 series, Shinkansen-colored train

Official information about the Shinkansen-colored train, Set 3123 (in Japanese):
Official information about the Shinkansen-colored train, Set 4105 (in Japanese):

Saturday 1 June 2024

The Seibu-Toshima Line: An Urban Local Route

"Studio Tour Tokyo Express" travels on the Seibu-Toshima line

I'm going to show you an urban local route followed by the Keio-Keibajo line. What's an "urban local route" in the first place? There is no definition for it, but I think "an urban railway line with little passenger transportation volume". For example, the JR East-Nambu branch line is a typical urban local route. The Tobu-Daishi line is also a good example.

Enough with the preamble. Let's get down to the main topic. The Seibu-Toshima line is also an urban local route. It's a branch line of the Seibu-Ikebukuro line. Connecting Nerima and Toshimaen, its route length is only 1.0 kilometer. The track is single. Trains are operated every 12 to 15 minutes. What's at Toshimaen terminal? You will find a popular theme park, named Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, near the terminal. In other words, the main function of the Seibu-Toshima line is transportation for holidaymakers, who visit Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo.

Taking the Seibu-Toshima line, you can enjoy a special poster train, named Studio Tour Tokyo Express, before reaching Toshimaen terminal. This train has large posters of Harry, Hermione and Ron on the bodies. It will lift your mood before visiting the theme park. Once you get off at the Toshimaen terminal, shining Patronus (Harry's Spirit Guardian) statues will welcome you. By the way, you may ask me, "Have you ever been to Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo?" Unfortunately, not yet. I'm always busy. My family are also pressed for time, and... (so many excuses!).

Patronus (Harry’s Spirit Guardian) statues in front of Toshimaen terminal

Official information about Toshimaen terminal (in Japanese):