Monday, 19 April 2021

New Model on the Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid Line

Set J-04 of the EMU JR East E235-1000 series nears Kamakura station

The JR East Yokosuka-Sobu rapid line is a busy commuter route in the Tokyo metropolitan area. A 15-car train with an overall length of 300 meters runs every four minutes in the morning. On December 21st, 2020, JR East launched a new EMU model, E235-1000 series, on the line. Introduction of the new model was for the first time in 26 years.

Elder brother of the EMU 235-1000 series, namely the E235 series, was launched on the Yamanote line in 2015. Technical specifications of the E235-1000 series are almost the same as the E235 series, but acceleration of the E235-1000 series is suppressed to 1.85 km/h/s based on the existing E217 series on the Yokosuka-Sobu rapid line. For your information, acceleration of the E235 series on the Yamanote line is 3 km/h/s. The E235 series is an 11-car train; meanwhile the E235-1000 series is a 15-car train (an 11-car regular train with a 4-car additional train). The E235 series doesn't have Green Cars (the first class cars); meanwhile, the E235-1000 series has two Green Cars. The E235 series has light green colored front masks and vertical stripes on their side bodies. On the other hand, the E235-1000 series has blue colored front masks and blue and cream colored horizontal stripes on their side bodies.

In the fiscal year 2020, the first eight sets, 120 cars in total of the E235-1000 series, were introduced as the first step. Existing E217 series (745 cars) will be replaced by the new model within several years.

Set J-04 of the EMU JR East E235-1000 series (close-up)

Official information about the EMU E235-1000 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Omiya Park on the Saikyo Line

EMU JR East E233-7000 series stands at Akabane station on the Saikyo line

It's mid-spring in Japan. The countryside of the Tokyo Metropolitan area is in full bloom with spring flowers.The urban public parks are also worth visiting. One of the examples is Omiya Park in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture. Omiya Park is a vast public park consisting of athletic fields, football grounds, baseball grounds, lawn fields, a museum, a zoo, ponds, forests and so on. I specifically like to walk in the park watching birds and hearing them sing. That makes me relaxed.

To visit Omiya Park, the nearest station is Omiya on the JR East's Saikyo and the other lines. The Saikyo line penetrates suburban residential areas in the northern part of Tokyo Metropolis and the southern part of Saitama Prefecture. Connecting Osaki and Omiya, its route length is 36.9 kilometers. The entire route of the Saikyo line is an electrified double track. The track gauge is 1,067 millimeters and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The EMU JR East E233-7000 series is the major fleet on the line. The E233-7000 series was launched in 2013 to replace an old model, EMU 205 series. The shining stainless steel body with its green-colored stripe is fresh.

What's new with the Saikyo line? On June 1st, 2020, the platform of the Saikyo line in Shibuya station was moved 350 meters towards the north. As a result, the new Saikyo line platform was set in parallel to the Yamanote line platform. It's convenient for passengers to change trains there.

Omiya Park

Sunday, 11 April 2021

2021 Sakura Season in Yamanashi

EMU JR East E353 Series arrives at Nirasaki station on the Chuo line
The weather forecast everyday informs us where the "front line" of the sakura (cherry blossoms) is. Although the sakura blooming season has passed in Tokyo, the front line is still traveling up the northern part of Japan. A person traveling to the north with the "sakura front" would be able to enjoy the blossoms for nearly three months. The sakura front travels not only to the north, but also climbs up the mountains.

Look at the following picture. Sakura is in the stage of full bloom in the mountainous Nirasaki province of Yamanshi Prefecture, about 150 kilometers west of Tokyo. Wani-zuka (Wani mound) is one of the famous sakura viewing spots there. My favorite tree is an Edo-hikan-sakura, which is over 330 years old. I enjoyed a glamorous looks tree, which ruled visitors' hearts, there. I also found many visitors enjoying this sakura standing in a circle around the tree.

To visit this gorgeous spot, the nearest railway station is Nirasaki on the JR East Chuo line. I used a limited express train, Azusa, the EMU E353 series, from Shinjuku terminal. The E353 series was launched in 2017 to replace the old limited express train, the E351 series. It has a special air suspension type tilting system to pass through tight curves in the mountain areas keeping at high speed. The maximum operating speed of the E353 series is 130 kilometers per hour.

I enjoyed the old sakura tree and the state-of-the-art limited express train on the weekend.

Cherry of Wani-zuka