Wednesday, February 19, 2014

EH200: Blue Thunder on the Steep Track

Electric locomotive, Type JRF EH200 stands at Tachikawa station yard on the Chuo Line
Japanese Shinkansen (high speed train) and the urban commuter trains are probably famous among foreigners; but how about the freight trains in Japan?

When the state-owned Japanese National Railways were split into several regional companies in 1987, the freight transportation segment was spun off as an independent firm, namely Japan Freight Railway Company (JRF). JRF has been going through a long period of hardships; but recently, it has climbed into the black and produced an income.

JRF doesn't have its own tracks, with some minor exceptions, but they have many locomotives to pull the freight trains. For instance, Type EH200 is a specialist electric locomotive (EL) for steep tracks in mountain ranges. It debuted in 2001 to replace the old EL, Type EF64. A total of 25 units have been manufactured so far by Toshiba.

This newly designed EL is operated on the 1,067mm gauge tracks with a 1,500V DC system, such as the JR East Chuo Line. Oil transportation is its main assignment. Pulling Type TaKi1000 oil tank cars, its maximum speed is 95km/hour on the steep tracks of the Chuo Line. Being coupled two units, the UIC indication of a wheel arrangement for the EH200 is (Bo-Bo)+(Bo-Bo). It has eight 565kW induction motors with a VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) control system.

The nickname of the EH200 is "Blue Thunder", which was chosen by the public. It is named after its body color and high performance.

Side view of the electric locomotive,Type JRF EH200
More information about locomotives of Japan Freight Railways (in Japanese):