Saturday, 30 November 2013

Indonesian Railway Update: Domestic EMUs in Jakarta

EMU KRL Jabodetabek KFW I-9000 series stands at Jati Negara Station in Indonesia
Photo: Faris Fadhli

I have received news from an Indonesian rail fan. A domestically-manufactured EMU has been launched in Jakarta. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the photo.

Look at the top picture. It is the type KFW I-9000, manufactured by PT INKA, Indonesian Railway Industries this year. It is an air conditioned 4-car narrow gauge EMU. The VVVF (variable frequency drive) electric control system with induction motors is equipped technically assisted by Siemens. A total of four sets, 16 units have been manufactured so far. The European style (?) rounded stainless steel body is quite unique. The ten rounded front lights are also eye-catching... but what for?

When I was stationed in Indonesia from 2007 to 2011, I often rode Indonesia's first domestically-produced EMU, namely the type KRL-1 (see the following photo). It was also produced by INKA, using European railway technologies. The KFW I-9000 is the second domestic EMU in Indonesia.

Recently, the railway operator, KRL Jabodetabek (Jakarta Metropolitan Electric Commuter Railway, a subsidiary of Indonesian National Railway, PT KAI), is pursuing modernization of the line. For example, all non-air conditioned trains have been taken off the route. Instead, they are importing air conditioned secondhand EMUs from Japan, such as the Tokyo Metro 6000 series and the JR East 205 series.

I wish Jakarta further success in the modernization of its railways, as improvements of public transportation, specifically railway networks, are essential for this growing giant city.

EMU KRL Jabodetabek KRL-1 series stands at Tanjung Priok Station in Indonesia (April, 2009)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

EMU 485 Series: Senior of the Hitachi Alumni Meeting

KuRoHa481-1028 of the EMU JR East 485 series is exhibited in Uchihara Rail Yard

One of the features of the Mito Railway Communication Day event was that Uchihara Rail Yard became the venue of the "Hitachi Alumni Meeting" on the Joban Line. It means that previous and present trains for limited express, Hitachi, were brought together at the festival site.

The senior train was the EMU 485 series, which was operated from 1972 to 1998 as the first generation EMU of limited express, Hitachi. The 485 series was launched in 1968 as an AC-DC dual electric system train on the Japanese National Railways (JNR). It was able to be operated on both 50Hz (eastern part of Japan) and 60Hz (western part of Japan) sections of AC system tracks. Plenty of units were manufactured from 1968 to 1979 by Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo, Kinki Sharyo, Kisha Kaisha, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi (not a train, but a company name).

The body of the exhibited train is frequently called "JNR limited express color". Although JNR was split into seven railway companies and privatized as JR Group in 1987, many rail fans are still boosterish about this coloring, as it fits into any kind of scenery in Japan from urban business centers to mountain forests. For your information, the exhibited train was set number K1 that came the all way from Niigata Rail Yard for this festival.

Currently, the K1 is operated as limited express train, "Hokuetsu", which connects Niigata and Kanazawa along the Sea of Japan.

The third generation (left) and the first generation (right) Hitachi limited express trains

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

EF510-510: Superstar EL on the Northern Track

Electric locomotive EF510-510 is exhibited in Uchihara Rail Yard near Uchihara Station
One of the eye-catching exhibits at the festival site of Mito Railway Communication Day was an electric locomotive (EL), unit number 510 of the type JR East EF510 (EF510-510). Along with EF510-509, this EL was manufactured in 2010 by Mitsubishi Electric and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Currently, it belongs to Tabata Operation Office (Tabata Rail Yard) in Tokyo.

Type EF510 is an AC-DC dual current narrow gauge EL operated by JR Freight and JR East. It debuted in 2002 to replace the old EL, type EF81. The EF510 is a Bo-Bo-Bo (UIC notation) type EL that has six 565kW traction motors. IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive) is adopted as an electric control system. The nickname is "Eco-power Red Thunder".

The main assignment of EF510-510 is to pull an overnight sleeper train, "Cassiopeia". As I mentioned before, Cassiopeia is the most reputable sleeper train in Japan. Connecting Ueno and Sapporo, it is directly operated from the Tokyo metropolitan area to the northern island of Japan, namely Hokkaido, passing through the 53.85-kilometer-long Seikan Submarine Tunnel. It takes about 17 hours to get to Sapporo from Ueno.

For that purpose, EF510-510 has a silver metallic body, which coordinates with Cassiopeia passenger coaches, namely the E26 series. It was sparkling in the late autumn morning sun in Uchihara Rail Yard... very beautiful. A meteor-like yellow star on the side of the body also provides a good snap for rail fans.

EF510-510... it is a superstar EL on the northern track.

Front view of the electric locomotive EF510-510

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Great Success of Mito Railway Communication Day

Several trains are exhibited in Uchihara Rail Yard near Uchihara Station on the Joban Line
Following the Takasaki Railway Communication Day, the other unique railway festival was held in the Tokyo metropolitan area last weekend. It was "Mito Tetsudo Fureai Day (Mito Railway Communication Day)", held by the Mito Regional Office of JR East. The site was Uchihara Rail Yard near Uchihara Station on the Joban Line. Four sets of EMUs, one electric locomotive and several maintenance vehicles were exhibited to be open to the public.

At the entrance of the site, I saw that the members of Mito Railway Children Association (Mito-RCA) were handing out flyers for the event. Dressed in matching uniforms, they were lovely and polite. At the site, I saw plenty of rail fans, families and couples, shooting photos, taking a tour of the cockpits of the EMUs and so on. A mini train pulled by a mini steam locomotive was also very popular among the children.

The visitors could also enjoy shopping for delicious lunch-boxes and cakes made with local foodstuffs. I enjoyed a bowl of hot noodles served by local chefs for a reasonable price. They were handmade "soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)"... very delicious.

I am truly grateful to JR East Mito Regional Office and other staff such as Mito-RCA members, local chefs and shopkeepers to have held this special event. The festival was indeed a great success. I will introduce several trains being exhibited at this event from next time. To be continued...

A mini train is operated at the festival site

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Tama Zoo Train on the Keio Line

7801F of the EMU Keio 7000 series, "Tama Zoo Train" arrives at Takahata-fudo Station
On the way to Keio Rail Land a couple of weeks ago, I saw a special poster train on the Keio Line. Look at the photo. It is set number 7801 (7801F) of the EMU 7000 series, "Tama Zoo Train", arriving at Takahata-fudo Station.

The 7000 series debuted in 1984 to enhance transportation capacity on the Keio Line. A total of 190 units have been manufactured for 12 years by Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Sharyo. A field chopper control system was adopted originally. It was later changed to the VVVF (variable frequency drive) system with induction motors, as part of a renovation project.

Tama Zoo train (7801F) was manufactured in 1993 by Tokyo Sharyo. It is a 4-car poster train to transport sightseers to Tama Zoo on the Keio-Dobutsuen Line (the Keio-Zoo Line). You can see various animal stickers on the body. They are lions, tigers, koalas, giraffes, monkeys and so on. It is popular among children on the line.

The Keio-zoo line is a feeder route of the Keio Main Line. It was opened in 1960. Connecting Takahata-fudo and Tama-dobutsukoen-mae (Tama Zoological Park) stations, the line length is 2km only.

Tama Zoo train runs without a conductor on board because the Keio-zoo Line normally has fewer passengers than the main line; but, on weekends, 10-car express trains with conductors on board are directly operated into this feeder route from Shinjuku Terminal to transport holidaymakers.

Side view of the Tama Zoo Train

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bullet Train and Classic Bus in Fukuyama City

EMU N700 series approaches Fukuyama Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen
During my visit to Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku Island last month, I stopped over at Fukuyama City in Hiroshima prefecture on the way back home. Fukuyama is located in Honshu Island; but, it is easy to hop there from Shikoku Island, passing through the bridges over the Seto Inland Sea.

When I reached Fukuyama City, I found that a classic bus was parking on the street (see the following photo). It was a bonnet bus operated by Tomotetsu, a local bus company. This nostalgic vehicle, type BX341, was manufactured by Isuzu Motors in 1958. It was powered by a 120-horsepower engine. The number of passenger seats is 27; meanwhile, the maximum passenger capacity is 47 persons. It was indeed well maintained. The BX 341 is operated as a relief or a chartered service only. Although, I didn't have an opportunity to ride it this time; I was lucky to shoot the photograph of this nostalgic bus.

Before leaving Fukuyama, I visited Fukuyama Castle. This hedgehog was constructed in 1622 by feudal load, Katsunari Mizuno. Although the original building was destroyed by an air raid during WWII, the restored castle is a symbol of the strength of the local people. I could view the beautiful urban scenery of Fukuyama including the elevated Sanyo Shinkansen track from the top of the castle tower (see the top photo).

This is the last post on my trip to Ehime and Hiroshima prefectures this year. It has become 4 posts long. Thanks for reading.

A classic bonnet bus, type Tomotetsu BX341 manufactured by Isuzu Motors in 1958

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Autumn Color of the Mysterious Lake

EMU JR Central 313 series passes through Fuefuki River Bridge on the Minobu Line
An "autumn leaves front" is making a plunge from the high mountains to the plain. I enjoyed autumn leaves in Yamanashi Prefecture again last weekend with my family.

My destination was Lake Shibire in the central part of the prefecture. It is located some 100km west of Tokyo. The lake is surrounded by steep circular mountains, which are estimated as outer ring mountains of a volcanic caldera. The lake surface is 880 meters above sea level. The foliage season of Lake Shibire is very attractive. We could see red, yellow and brown colored leaves that made a nice contrast with the blue sky and the mysterious lake (see the following picture). The best season there is from late-October.

On the way home, I stopped over Mitama-no-yu Hot Spring again. It is my favorite spot because we can enjoy a superb "onsen" (hot spring) while viewing the beautiful Kofu Basin and its surrounding mountains. It was a bright and clear day. I could see Yatsugatake Mountains (2899m at the highest) to the north, as well as Mt. Kaikoma (2,967m) in the Southern Japanese Alps to the south.

Viewing the trains on the JR Central Minobu Line was of course my main attraction there as a rail fan. I could see the stylish EMU 313 series local trains, passing through the Fuefuki River Bridge (see the top photo). The local trains were operated a couple of times an hour.

I had a really good weekend again.

Autumn color of Lake Shibire near Ichikawa-Daimon Station on the Minobu Line

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

C62 17: World Record Holder on the Narrow Gauge Track

Steam locomotive C62 17 is exhibited in SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
Following the EMU 52 series, I am going to show you the other memorable exhibit in "SCMAGLEV and Railway Park" in Nagoya City.

Look at the top photo. It is steam locomotive (SL) number 17 of the type C62, manufactured in 1948 by Hitachi. The C62 is a 4-6-4 (Whyte notation) type steam locomotive that has a tender attached. A total of 49 units were built in 1948 and 1949 by Hitachi, Kawasaki Sharyo and Kisha Seizo.

The assignment of the C62 was to pull express passenger trains. It is particularly notable that the C62 pulled limited express trains, such as "Tsubame (swallow)" and "Hato (pigeon)". They were representative trains after WWII in Japan. The C62 was indeed the superstar on the iron tracks in Japan.

Particularly, unit number 17 was famous among rail fans, as it has a world speed record for SLs on the narrow gauge track. On December 15th in 1954, it set a new world record of 129km/hour (80.2miles/hour) on the Kiso River Bridge of the Tokaido Main Line. C62 17 is also famous for its long distance operation. It traveled a total of 2.75 million kilometers (1.71 million miles) in its career.

C62 17 retired from the track in 1970. It had been preserved in Higashiyama Park of Nagoya City for long time. It was, then, moved to SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in 2010. Currently, it is exhibited like a glorious brand new locomotive in the entrance hall.

Tender of C62 17

Saturday, 16 November 2013

N700A: Advanced Shinkansen Train

EMU JR Central N700A series (modified cars) stands at Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen
Currently, we often encounter a new train in Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen. It is the EMU "N700A" series, which is an evolved version of the N700 series.

What is the difference between the N700 and the N700A series? The main difference between both trains is their brake performance. New disc brakes were adopted by the N700A series. As you may know, the braking system on a bullet train is quite important in Japan, since we have to stop the train steadily without derailment as soon as an earthquake hits a railway.

The brake disc of the N700A series is fixed to the wheel by bolts in the "center" of the discs. Before debuting the N700A, the disc was fixed to the wheel by bolts at the "edge" of the disc. It has been causing a deviation of friction heat deformation of the disc by braking. But, in the new system, this deviation has been decreased drastically. Newly developed bolts have enabled this new brake. Passengers cannot see this system directly; but it is a great deal of progress in the underfloor space.

The N700A is of two types. One type are the newly-manufactured cars, which have a large logo of "A" on their bodies; meanwhile the others are modified cars, which have a small logo of "A". Look at the following photo. It is a modified car with a small logo of "A" on the body.

The shinkansen system is a crystallization of new technology and sedulous efforts.

Side view of the EMU N700A series (modified cars)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Autumn Color on the Inokashira Line

1714F of the EMU Keio 1000 series arrives at Inokashira-koen Station on the Inokashira Line
An "autumn leaves front" is going southward in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is also making a plunge from the high mountains to the plain. The leaves on the urban trees have just started turning red, yellow and brown. I visited Inokashira Park near Inokashira-koen Station on the Keio-Inokashira Line last weekend, and enjoyed a stroll.

Inokashira Park is located in the western suburb of Tokyo. It is close to my parent's place. When I was a child, I often went boating and visited a zoo in the park with my parent and/or grandparent. I also visited there to make a sketch with a teacher and classmates of the primary school. They were fun in their own ways; but, to tell the truth, riding the trains on the Inokashira Line to and from the park was my greatest attraction.

When I was a toddler, all trains were steel and green colored. Then, the EMU 3000 series, a stainless car was introduced. It shone brilliantly in my eyes. Rainbow colored front masks of the trains were very fresh for me. It was my top favorite train.

Currently, the EMU 1000 series replaced the EMU 3000 series, and has become the main fleet on the Inokashira Line trains. The commercial operation of this EMU started in 1996, as the first long (20m) body train. It is composed of 5 cars with a VVVF (variable frequency drive) control system.

The Inokashira Line trains fit autumn leaves in the suburban area.

Inokashira Park near Inokashira-koen Station on the Keio-Inokashira Line

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The 40th Anniversary of 8039F Operation

EMU ex-Tokyu 8039F approaches Universitas Indonesia Station in Indonesia (May, 2008)
As I mentioned before, the EMU Tokyu 8000 series is something special for me. It is filled with memories.

The first memory is my school days. When I was a high school student, I took the Tokyu-Toyoko Line to go to school. It was only a 10-minute trip; but the 8000 series held good memories for me, as I used it every day. Unfortunately, all of the 8000 series trains have already retired from the Tokyu Line.

The second memory is my Jakarta days. I was stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia for 4 years from 2007 to 2011. When I was there, I often rode the trains. My favorite one was the EMU PT KAI (Indonesian National Railways) 8000 series, which was the ex-Tokyu 8000 series in Japan. Three sets were transferred to Indonesia in 2005 and 2007 to spend their second life after their retirement from Tokyu.

Among the three sets, number 39 (8039F) was special for me. 8039F debuted in 1973, when I was a high school student. It was just a train at that time; but its coloring design became more beautiful after it moved to Indonesia. Look at the photos. 8039F has thick dark blue colored stripes on the body. A second look confirms that thin light blue colored stripes are embedded in the thick stripes. These well designed stripes fit the shining stainless body and the tropical scenery in Indonesia.

8039F is pushing 40 this year.

EMU ex-Tokyu 8039F stands at Kramat Station in Indonesia (January, 2010)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Limestone Train and Autumn Color in Chichibu

Limestone train pulled by the EL type Chichibu DeKi 500 stands at Nagatoro Station
Viewing colorful autumn leaves is one of the indulgences that Japanese people have during fall. Leaves turn yellow, red and brown. A representative yellowish leaf is from the gingko tree.

Gingko are often planted as roadside trees. You can see gingko trees here and there in the Tokyo metropolitan area; but Chichibu Muse Park is something special. I saw that many people were enjoying a stroll on the gingko street over the entire length of 3km in the park last weekend (see the following picture). It has turned yellow and started defoliation.

To visit this long beautiful gingko street, take Chichibu Railway and get off at Chichibu Station. You can transfer to a bus to Chichibu Muse Park easily from the station. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the park.

On the way back home, I saw a limestone train at Nagatoro Station on the Chichibu Railway (see the top photo). Most private railway companies in Japan have abolished their freight transportation after being hard hit by the growing truckload transportation; but, Chichibu Railway still operates freight train, because a limestone mine on the line still needs it.

The limestone train was pulled by a classic electric locomotive (EL), unit number 503 of the type DeKi 500. Number 503 was manufactured by Hitachi Ltd in 1979. In the past, almost all Japanese ELs had decks like this; but, this design was faded out from an engineering viewpoint.

The DeKi 500 is a precious classic EL on the Chichibu Railway.
Gingko trees in Chichibu Muse Park near Chichibu Station, Chichibu Railway

Monday, 11 November 2013

DeHa 2410: the Oldest Survivor on the Keio Line

DeHa 2410 of the EMU Keio 2400 series is exhibited in Keio Rail Land
The eldest exhibited train in Keio Rail Land is the EMU 2400 series (see the top photo). It is the Keio's first control car with 6 doors. A total of 10 units were manufactured in 1941 by Nippon Sharyo. Unit number DeHa 2410 is the only survivor of the 2400 series. The other units have already been scrapped.

The car length is 14.1m, which was classified as a medium-sized car on the line. The frontal mask is slightly convex, and has three large windows. A single rounded light is attached on the top of the front. The light green colored riveted body with window sills, window headers and external guttering downpipes tell us the long history of this train. You can see the large "K.T.R." logo, which stands for the ex-company name, Keio-Teito Railway on the side of the body (see the following picture).

DeHa 2410 was once planned to be scrapped in 1963, when the voltage of the Keio Line was raised from 650 to 1,500 volts. But, it survived, and continued to be operated on the track. It was, then, retired from the track in 1969, when Automatic Train Stop (ATS) system was introduced to the Keio Line.

DeHa 2410 was preserved in front of Tama-dobutsu-koen Station in 1969. Then it was moved to Keio Training Center near Hirayama-joshi-koen Station. In 2013, DeHa 2410 came back to Tama-dobutsu-koen Station again to be exhibited in Keio Rail Land.

DeHa 2410, eventually, found its final home.

Side view of DeHa 2410 of the EMU Keio 2400 series

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Visit to the New Railway Museum

EMU 6000, 3000, 5000, 2010 and 2400 series are exhibited in Keio Rail Land
Now rail fans have one more spot to visit. On October 10th, Keio Electric Railway Company opened a new railway museum, "Keio Rail Land".

Keio Rail Land was originally opened as an amusement facility for kids in 2000. It was a small facility to exhibit diorama (model railway) and to sell some souvenirs; meanwhile, the new Keio Rail Land has been opened as a railway museum, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Keio Line.

It has larger sized diorama and souvenir shops. Furthermore, it has train driving simulators and train instruments such as a pantograph. More importantly, five units of historical trains are exhibited in an outside covered facility. They are the EMU 6000, 3000, 5000, 2010, and 2400 series, which were retired from the tracks.

When I visited there last weekend, it was very crowded. There was a ten-minute wait to get in. Visitors were mostly families and rail fans. The entry fee was 250 yen ($2.50) for a day.

To get to this new railway museum, take the Keio Line or the Tama Monorail Line and get off at Tama-dobutsu-koen (Tama Zoological Park) Station. It takes about 40 minutes from Shinjuku on the Keio Line, and about 10 minutes from Tama Center on the Tama Monorail Line. You can visit both Keio Rail Land and Tama Zoological Park, which is a reputable sightseeing spot in Tokyo in one day. I am going to show you several exhibits next time.

To be continued...

Visitors "drive" miniture trains in Keio Rail Land near Tama-dobutsu-koen Station on the Keio Line
More information about Keio Rail Land (in Japanese): 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Dragon Palace Station

EMU Odakyu 3000 series stands at Katase-Enoshima Station on the Enoshima Line
When we visited Enoshima Island last week, we found that the nearest railway station was lit up beautifully. Katase-Enoshima, the terminal of Odakyu-Enoshima Line, was opened in 1929. It is quite a unique station, as the station building was constructed with the Dragon Palace in mind.

What is Dragon Palace?

Dragon Palace appears in Japanese folklore, "Urashima Taro". A fisherman, Urashima Taro, helped a turtle, who was tortured by children on a beach. The turtle expressed his (or her) thanks to Taro, and invited him to Dragon Palace, where the sea-god lived. Dragon Palace was located under the sea. It was built from red and white coral. Taro spent three days there, enjoying parties; but, time flew while he was having fun. One day in the palace was equal to a century outside the palace. So, when Taro returned his village, he became an old man.

Currently, Katase-Enoshima Station is lit up beautifully in the evenings. Special LED lights are used for the illuminations. Needless to say, it is one of the promotion activities by Odakyu Electric Railway Company to attract tourists to Enoshima Island. I saw that many families and couples were taking commemorative pictures in front of this unique station building.

In the meantime, I am going to show you platforms and a train standing at Katase-Enoshima Terminal. The EMU 3000 series is the latest standard commuter train on the Odakyu Line. Along with the 1000 series, it is a train for my everyday use.

Night view of Katase-Enoshima station building (constructed in 1929) on the Odakyu-Enoshima Line

Friday, 8 November 2013

Shonan Candle 2013 in Enoshima

EMU Odakyu 60000 series stands at Katase-Enoshima Station on the Enoshima Line
Enoshima Island is a convenient sightseeing spot in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It takes just an hour by Odakyu Romance Car from Shinjuku to Katase-Enoshima, which is the gateway station to the island.

I visited this island with my family last weekend. When we arrived at Katase-Enoshima Station, it was already late afternoon, and it was getting dark. Crossing a bridge, we walked to the island.

Why did we visit the island so late? It was to see "Shonan Candle 2013". Shonan Candle is a night event to promote visitors to Enoshima Island. In this season, the island is lit up by more than five thousand candles after sunset (see the following photo). It is a very beautiful and popular annual light pageant among families and couples. We also enjoyed this "ocean of light" on the island. For your information, "Shonan" is the name of the coastal area facing the Pacific Ocean. It extends along a beautiful beach from the historical city of Kamakura to the castle city of Odawara, including Enoshima Island.

When I returned Katase-Enoshima Station, the shadows had fallen completely. Our return train, the EMU Odakyu Romance Car 60000 series was waiting for us in the twilight (see the top photo). I often get on this train on the way home, but it was something special that day, since it was very beautiful and glaring in the evening gloom.

Enoshima night walk offers extraordinary experiences to visitors.

"Shonan Candle 2013" is held in Enoshima Island near Katase-Enoshima Station 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The 100th Anniversary of the Keio Line

EMU Keio 8000 series stands at Fuchu Station
The Keio Line is one of the main transportation arteries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Shinjuku and the western suburban cities, such as Hachioji and Sagamihara, the total operating length is 72km. It carries an average of 1.25 million passengers per day.

On April 13th this year, Keio Electric Railway Company celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Keio Line. It was opened between Sasazuka and Chofu stations on April 13th in 1913. The track gauge is quite unique... 1,372mm, since the Keio Line was initially constructed as a tram line. For your information, 1,372mm special track gauge has been adopted several lines in Tokyo, such as the Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) Arakawa and the Tokyu Setagaya lines.

As I mentioned before, my grandfather, who passed away in 1999, was a railway engineer of Keio Electric Railway. He introduced many trains during his assignment. The classic electric car, type 500, which debuted in 1931, is still seen in his photo album. I think he is also celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Keio Line on the other side.

Today, three types of trains are operated on the Keio Line. They are the EMU 7000, 8000 and 9000 series. My favorite one is the stylish 8000 series. It was launched in 1992 as the first EMU to adopt the VVVF (variable frequency drive) control system on the Keio Line. A total of 245 units have been manufactured so far.

The Keio trains are heading for their next century.

Evening rush hour in Shinjuku Terminal on the Keio Line

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Silver Wave in Hakone

EMU Hakone Tozan 2000 series stands at Miyanoshita Station
There is a lot to see in Hakone, some 80km southwest of Tokyo. One of the recommended spots in this season is a vast silver grass field in Sengokubara. This area is a relatively flat land because of a crater floor of the caldera, which is surrounded by steep outer rim volcanic mountains. When I visited there last October, it was a bit early to view the silver grass looking still lush so, I visited Sengokubara in November this year.

Look at the following photo. You can see a "silver wave" in the field. It was the best season to view an awful lot of rabbit ears of silver grass. They changed color from green to silver, and they will then turn gold from exposure to the sun. The breeze blowing against them also created an autumn sound.

To see this silver wave, take Hakone Tozan Railway and get off at Miyanoshita Station. You can transfer to a bus to Sengokubara easily from the station. Hakone Tozan Railway is a dependable transporter that climbs up the mountain. It connects Odawara and Gora stations (15km). This railway was opened as Odawara Horse Tramway in 1888.

It's a lot of hard work to climb up Hakone Mountain, specifically between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora stations. The difference of elevation is nearly 500m and its maximum grade is 80 per mils, which is the second steepest railway in the world. EMU 2000 series trains, which were launched in 1989, climb the route powerfully.

Silver grass field in Sengokubara near Miyanoshita Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Tokyo Night Walk: Bundle of Tracks in Hamamatsu-cho

EMU Tokyo Monorail 1000 series (left) and EMU JR Central N700 series (right)
The weather has become cooler, giving Tokyoites a sense of the upcoming mid-autumn. Currently, the daytime maximum temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius every day. It is the best season for a stroll not only in the daytime but also in the evening. I visited the World Trade Center Building near Hamamatsu-cho Station after office hours, and enjoyed a night view of the urban area. My destination was the observatory deck on the 40th floor.

Look at the top photo. It is the railway tracks threading their way through the cluster of high-rise buildings. You can see a bundle of tracks such as the JR Central's Tokaido Shinkansen, the JR East's Tokaido Main Line, the Yamanote Line and the Keihin-Tohoku Line. Furthermore, you can also see the elevated tracks of the Tokyo Monorail Line, crossing the JR tracks obliquely. The EMU Shinakansen N700 series and the Tokyo Monorail 1000 series were just heading North. These trains were beaming their frontal lights into the night.

The advantage of this observatory is its photographer-friendly services. For instance, the indoor lighting is modest. Use of a tripod stand is allowed. As you may know, there are many competing night viewing spots in Tokyo, such as Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower.

For your information, this observatory has a special viewing spot for couples. It is perhaps the best spot to view Tokyo Tower (see the following picture) in Tokyo.

Special spot for couples in World Trade Center Building near Hamamatsu-cho Station 

Friday, 1 November 2013

EMU 9820 Series: Commuter Train in the Ancient City

EMU Kintetsu 9820 series approaches Yamato-Saidaiji Station on the Nara Line
I still have some more pictures of my summer trip to Nara Prefecture.

Look at the top photo. It is 9730F (set number 9730) of the EMU Kintetsu 9820 series on the Nara Line. The 9820 series debuted in 2001 to replace the old EMU 8000 series. A total of 10 sets, 60 units, have been manufactured so far. The 9820 series belongs to the group of commuter trains, which is called "SERIES 21". They are new generation trains developed by Kintetsu to meet the needs for transportation in the 21st century. The 9820 series is currently operated on the Kyoto and Nara lines. It is also directly operated into Hanshin Electric Railway to Sannomiya in Kobe City.

The grayish brown and white colored body with a yellow stripe is modern-looking. It is Kintetsu's first color design of commuter trains in 32 years. The 9820 series fits into the scenery of Nara, which is Japan's ancient capital city (see the following picture). The other feature of this train is the windshield on the front. Can you see that it is tinged with a slightly green color? That is for ultraviolet protection to keep drivers healthy. The EMU Kintetsu 9820 series is the modern commuter train in the ancient capital city.

This is the last post on my summer trip to Nara Prefecture this year. It has become 7 posts long. Thanks for reading.

EMU Kintetsu 9820 series and Former Imperial Audience Hall