Monday, 8 October 2012

The E531, AC-DC Dual System EMU on the Joban Line

EMU JR East E531 series stands at Ueno Station on the Joban Line

As I mentioned in my blog on August 20th, most of the commuter railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area are operated on direct current (DC). It is related to the characteristics of DC. The DC system requires many electrical substation facilities along the railway tracks, but the equipments on the trains is simple. In other words, the DC system is suitable for frequently operated commuter railways to reduce the total cost.

There is an exception though. It is the JR East Joban Line. The southern part of the route is a typical commuter line, but the alternate current (AC) system has been adopted on the north side of Toride Station. It means that the trains passing through Toride should have both AC and DC systems.

Look at the top photo. It is an EMU E531 series, an AC-DC dual system train on the Joban Line. This train is composed of 10 cars in main sets, with 5 cars in sub sets. Usually, it is operated as a 15-car train (a main set + a sub set) on the line. The gleaming stainless steel body with a dark blue colored stripe is an outward characteristic of the E531 series.

Another feature of this train is a double decker Green Car (First Class). Two Green Cars, namely Type SaRo E530 and 531, are incorporated in the main set. Green Cars are currently very popular among hardworking long distance commuters as a "Petit-zeitaku" (small luxury and enjoyment) on the way home.

JR East double decker Green Car (first class), Type SaRo E530 of the E531 series at Ueno Station