Saturday, April 20, 2013

2nd Generation Railcar on the Watarase Valley Railway


Diesel railcar, WKT-501 stands at Oomama Rail Yard on the Watarase Valley Railway

Following the Torokko train (see my blog on April 19th, 2013), I am going to show you the other rolling stock on the Watarase Valley Railway.

Watarase River Railway was opened in 1989 handing over the Ashio Line from JR East. When the railway was opened, a total of 7 new diesel rail cars were introduced. The main fleet was called "LE-car II series", which was manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries. "LE" stands for light and economical. As its name suggests, many parts, such as the framework of the body and the air conditioners, had been adopted from those of buses to save on costs. I saw many LE-car II series rail cars throughout Japan in the 1990s and the 2000s.

More than 20 years have passed since then. The LE-car II series has become older. The final LE-car II series on the Watarase River Railway, unit "Wa 89-101" was retired in March of this year. It marked the end of an era.

What next? Don't worry. The second generation rail car has already been launched. It is the WKT series that was manufactured by Niigata Transys Company. The first unit, WKT-501 was debuted in 2011 (see the photos). The body length is 18.5m, which is longer than that of LE-car II. The power output of the engine has also increased.

From now on, the WKT series will carry the next-generation diesel rail cars on the track of the Watarase Valley Railway.

Side view of the diesel rail car, WKT-501 stands at Oomama Rail Yard