Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Final Year of the EMU Chichibu 1000 Series

EMU Chichibu 1000 (ex-JR East 101) series arrives at Nagatoro Station (November, 2012)

On June 12th, 2013, Chichibu Railway made an announcement that the EMU 1000 series will be retired by the end of 2014.

The EMU 1000 series was originally commissioned in 1957 by ex-JNR (Japanese National Railways) as a new high speed commuter train, the JNR 101 series. A total of 1,535 units had been manufactured over 12 years. It is a big family isn't it? The design is not too hot; but it is very staunch and robust. I have many memories of my childhood getting on the 101 series, such as school excursions, visits to relatives, and so on.

Most of the units have been already scrapped; however, a total of 36 units were fortunately moved to Chichibu Railway in the 1980s to spend their second life. Three sets, nine units, are still operated on the line; but they have got older and are near the end of their own life.

According to Chichibu Railway, the set number 1010 (see the top photo) will be retired next March. It has only nine months left. Rail fans in Japan, including me, have started to become nervous about the situation. "When should I visit Chichibu Railway to get on the 1000 series and say good-bye?" It will be very crowded with rail fans just before its retirement. I want to avoid an unnecessary rush. On the contrary, if I visit too soon, the mood won't be right.

When should I visit? That is the question.

Side view of the EMU Chichibu 1000 series (Mitsumine-guchi Station, November, 2012)