Monday, 9 September 2013

Preserved EL and Tunnel on the Chuo Line

 Electric locomotive EF64 18 is preserved in Katsunuma-budokyo Station on the Chuo Line
It is autumn harvest season again in the Tokyo metropolitan area. We can enjoy fresh grapes in Yamanashi Prefecture now. Last Sunday, I took a local train on the Chuo Line and got off at Katsunuma-budokyo (Katsunuma Grape Country) Station. There were vast vineyards extending on the slope in front of the railway station. Although new wine was still in the making, I enjoyed as many fresh grapes as I could, visiting several vineyards around the station.

After collecting fresh grapes, I visited ex-Oohikage Tunnel on the Chuo Line. It is a 1.4km long railway tunnel, opened in 1902. This tunnel had made a large contribution to the local economy, but it was abandoned in 1968, when the new tunnel was completed. Currently, ex-Oohikage Tunnel is opened to the public as a walking track. The inner wall of the tunnel was paved with smoke-covered brick. It is dark and thrilling to walk inside the tunnel.

A classic electric locomotive (EL), which was preserved in front of the station, was also attractive for me. It was unit number 18 of the EF64 manufactured by Toshiba in 1966. EF64 was a direct current electric locomotive and a specialist to be operated on steep tracks in mountain areas. Unit number 18 had been operated until 2005, pulling freight trains. This old EL spends the rest of his life warmly watching over the changing of the Chuo Line.

Fresh grapes, an ex-railway tunnel and an old preserved EL... Katsunuma was filled with attractions.

Ex-Oohikage Tunnel on the Chuo Line