Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The State Guest House on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East E233 series arrives at Yotsuya station on the Chuo line

Geihin-kan (the state guest house) is a facility in which the government accommodates visiting state guests, such as heads of state or ministers. Japan has two Geihin-kans, one in Tokyo and one in Kyoto, which belong to the national facilities under the Cabinet Office. Although an admission fee is charged, anyone can now visit the Geihin-kan in Tokyo when state guests aren't using the facility. Not only the building but also the front garden is very beautiful.

The Geihin-kan building in Tokyo was originally constructed in 1909 as the Crown Prince's palace. It was an era of Datsua-nyuo (leaving Asia and entering Europe). After the feudal times, the new Meiji government promoted the policy of Datsua-nyuo, while the government also promoted the adaptation of Western culture, custom, and architecture. Geihin-kan was a typical example of Datsua-nyuo, but the Crown Prince didn't use this building as it was too luxurious. Geihin-kan was then utilized as a government building such as the National Diet Library, but it was eventually changed to the state guest house in 1974. The first state guest to Geihin-kan was the thirty-eighth President of the United States, Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr.

To get to Geihin-kan, the nearest station is Yotsuya on the JR East Chuo line. Yotsuya is a valley in a hilly area, so the trains arrive at the station after passing through a tunnel. We can see a beautiful hilly landscape around the station, even though it is situated in the center of the city. It is a good area for strolling.

The Geihin-kan building and the front garden near Yotsuya station

Saturday, 10 November 2018

2018 Tsukuba Express Festival: Part 2

Set 70 of the EMU TX-2000 series

Subsequent to my last post, I am going to continue to show you the 2018 Tsukuba Express Festival held in the TX Sogo Rail Yard.

Visitors could enjoy various events in the yard. For instance, rail fans were allowed to enter the train cockpit. Families got special souvenirs, such as train-printed mugs, after joining the stamp rally. They also enjoyed famous comedians putting on comic plays on a special stage in the train inspection building.

What children delighted in was a tug-of-war game with a train. TX prepared a long and heavy train (TX-2000 + TX-1000 series). It consisted of 12 cars and its total weight was 392,700 kilograms according to my calculation. A group of the children pulled the tug and had to move the train. It was hard work for them, but they eventually won. That became a very good memory for them.

Incidentally, the front design of the train used for the tug-of-war looked special. It had vermilion and white colored special stripes. What was that? It was the specially designed train for the 2nd and the 3rd batch of the TX-2000 series. Finding such subtle design differences between train models is a pleasure for trainspotters.

The railway employees of TX, as well as those of Kantetsu, were very friendly and kind to visitors. The festival was indeed a great success. Plenty of people enjoyed the festival safely. I am truly grateful to TX and Kantetsu to have held this special event.

Children enjoy a tug-of-war game with the EMU TX-2000 and TX-1000 series

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

2018 Tsukuba Express Festival

EMU TX-2000 and TX-1000 series are exhibited in TX Sogo Rail Yard

After visiting Kantetsu's Mitsukaido Rail Yard, I headed to another rail yard nearby. It was Sogo Rail Yard of Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company (Tsukuba Express or TX). In cooperation with Kantetsu, TX also held a rail yard tour on the very same day. Much to my joy, Kantetsu kindly gave the rail fans free bus services between Kantetsu Mitsukaido Rail Yard and TX Sogo Rail Yard, so that I could smoothly move from the former to the latter. The admissions of the two rail yards were of course free.

TX exhibited their EMUs, the TX-1000 and the TX-2000 series in the center of the rail yard. Both the TX-1000 and the TX-2000 series are composed of 6 cars. The outer designs of the TX-1000 and the TX-2000 series look almost same. What is the difference between the two models?

The answer is their electric systems. The TX-1000 series is a DC (direct current) train; meanwhile, the TX-2000 series is an AC-DC (alternate current and direct current) dual system train. The southern part of the TX line between Akihabara and Moriya stations has adopted the DC system; meanwhile, the AC system is applied to the northern part of the route between Moriya and Tsukuba stations. It means that the TX 1000 series can be operated only on the section between Akihabara and Moriya stations; meanwhile, the TX-2000 series is able to be operated on the whole route of the TX line.

To be continued...

Set 03 of the EMU TX-1000 series stands at Sogo Rail Yard

Official information about TX: http://www.mir.co.jp/en/about_tx/