Monday, 10 September 2012

Open-air Train on the Watarase Valley Railway

Railcars Watarase Type WKT 550 (right) and WKT 500 (left) stand at Mizunuma Station

When I was a child, we could open train windows easily and widely. During hot summer days, passengers used to open the windows to ventilate trains.

Today, however, the situation has totally changed. We cannot open most of the train windows, because air conditioners have been installed. Here, then, is a "reversal" idea. Some railway companies have introduced "open-air" trains intentionally to make passengers enjoy the outdoor air.

Look at the top photo. It is a railcar, Watarase Valley Railway Type 550, launched in April this year. Passengers, most of them are holidaymakers, can enjoy a breeze crossing the Watarase River, as this railcar doesn't have glass windows on the side of the body. I got on this sightseeing train, "Torokko Wasshi" last month, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Watarase Valley.

I see your question... how is it to be managed, if it starts to rain? The answer is very simple. Passengers, who don't want to take a shower, should only move to the next car with glass windows. Fortunately, I didn't have any rain during the one-hour train journey.

Finally, I am going to mention a bit about the Watarase River Railway. As I mentioned on my blog on October 5th, 2011, it is a local line in the northern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is famous for the beautiful autumn leaves and popular attractions such as an ex-copper mine and superb hot springs. I will show you a copper mine train next time.

To be continued...

Railcar number WKT-551 of Type 550, "Torokko Wasshi" at Mizunuma Station