Friday, 18 January 2019

Countdown to the Last Run: EMU Keikyu 800 Series

Set 824 of the EMU Keikyu 800 series (December, 2017)

It is mid-winter in Japan. The maximum daytime temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. Although it is very cold, I tried to find an advent of spring in the suburban area. My destination was Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture. I visited Nagai-uminote Park near Misaki-guchi station on the Keikyu line. There was a fully blooming vast canola field. Its yellow flowers were very vivid backed by the blue sky and snow-capped Mt. Fuji.

On my way back home, I came across an old EMU 800 series. The 800 series is the longest serving active model on the Keikyu line. It was launched in 1978 for speeding up of local (all-stations) trains. A total of 27 sets, 132 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Currently, 4 sets, 24 units are still being operated on the track. I show you a photo of set 824, which retired last year.

On May 29th, 2018, Keikyu made a press release announcing that additional 42 units of the new EMU 1000 series will be commissioned by March 2019. It suggests that the 800 series will be retired soon. The problem of the EMU 800 series is its passenger doors. The 800 series has 8 doors per unit; meanwhile, Keikyu's other models have 6 doors per unit. It means that the 800 series places obstacle for installation of automatic platform gates to prevent passengers from falling off the platform edge. 

Sayonara (goodbye) and arigato (thank you) to the 800 series. I will never forget you through the years.

Canola field near Misaki-guchi station on the Keikyu line

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

New Model on the Toei-Asakusa Line

EMU Toei 5500 series arrives at Kohjiya station on the Keikyu-kuko line

When I visited "Nanatsuji (seven crossroads)" on the Keikyu-Kuko line, I came across a new model at Kohjiya station. It was the EMU Toei 5500 series directly operated from the Toei-Asakusa line.

The 5500 series was launched on June 30th, 2017 to replace the old model, EMU 5300 series. Currently, a total of 7 sets, 56 units are operated on the Toei-Asakusa, Keikyu, Keisei and Hokuso Railway. Toei (the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) plans to introduce a total of 27 sets, 216 units by 2021 replacing all the 5300 series trains.

The most distinctive feature of the 5500 series is its face. This unique front design was taken from a Japanese traditional performance art, Kabuki, which is a drama performance with a history of over four hundred years. Its stage makeup is very vivid. The face of the 5500 series was taken from this unique makeup. For your information, Kabuki Theater is located just above Higashi-Ginza station on the Toei-Asakusa line.

With regard to the technical specifications of the 5500 series, several advanced technologies are adopted such as a full SiC-MOSFET VVVF (variable frequency drive) inverter electric control system. The body of the 5500 series is 18 meters long, which is the same as the other Toei-Asakusa line trains.

The old Kabuki train on the Tokyu line (the EMU 7600 series) was retired from the track in 2015, but the new Kabuki train on the Toei-Asakusa line has just debuted. It is good news for rail fans.

EMU Toei 5500 series leves Kohjiya station on the Keikyu-kuko line

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Unique Funicular at Miyagase Dam

Unit 2 of the Miyagase Dam Incline

I am going to show you a unique funicular today. I recently visited Miyagase Dam in Kanagawa Prefecture. The purpose of my visit was to see and ride "Miyagase Dam Incline".

Miyagase Dam Incline is a means of transport for visitors to climb up the dam crest. It was originally used for constructing the dam but was modified to a funicular for sightseeing later. Connecting Dam-shita and Dam-ue stations, its route length is 216 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 121 meters and the maximum inclination of the route is 35 degrees.

It is a bucket-type funicular and operated by an inverter electric system. Different from the standard funiculars, the track is double. It means that there is no station in the middle of a single-track for train meet. The operation interval is 6 to 10 minutes. The operation speed is 60 meters/minute. It takes about 4 minutes to get from Dam-shita to Dam-ue station. The present vehicles, named car number 1 and 2, were built by Tokyo Sakudo in 1998. Each car has a 5.1 meter-long and a 2.6 meter-wide body and can accommodate 46 passengers. The operation is driver-less. To be exact, this transportation system is NOT classified as a funicular under the Railway Business Act.

Incidentally, Miyagase Dam is one of the major dams in the region. It is a multipurpose concrete gravity dam of 156 meters in height. The water is supplied to many cities and towns in Kanagawa Prefecture including Yokohama.

Entrance of Miyagase Dam