Friday, December 6, 2013

EMU 5500 Series: New Jet Car on the Hanshin Line

5505F of the EMU Hanshin 5500 series stands at Mikage Station
 
After enjoying the gorgeous night view at Mt. Rokko, I went down the mountain to come back to the downtown Kobe area. I got on a train on the Hanshin Line at Mikage Station. Mikage is just the name of a place; but, it has special significance for geologists. We call granite "Mikage-ishi" in Japan, since it has been produced for building stones in this area.

My vehicle from Mikage Station was the EMU 5500 series. It is an EMU for local trains (all-stations trains). Originally, the 5500 series was planned to debut in 1996 to replace old EMUs; however, Hanshin Electric Railway Company faced no choice but to debut it one year earlier. What happened?

On January 17th, 1995, a big earthquake hit Kobe City. More than 6,400 people were killed. The railways were also severely damaged. Hanshin lost many trains. That's why they had to introduce the 5500 series ahead of schedule.

The EMU 5500 series is a 4-car train. All of the units have electric motors to secure a high acceleration force. On the Hanshin Line, distances between stations are very short; therefore, the company needs trains with fast acceleration to speed up operations. As you may know, there are many competitors in this area, such as JR West and Hankyu lines.

The 5500 series has fast acceleration. It takes only 21 seconds to reach a speed of 80km/hour, which is the fastest acceleration on any train in Japan.

The nickname of the 5500 series is "New Jet Car".

 
5501F of the EMU Hanshin 5500 series stands at Mikage Station

More information about the EMU Hanshin 5500 series (in Japanese):