Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Isumi Railway Update: Rail Cars KiHa 28, 52 and 200'

Diesel rail cars, KiHa 52 125 (left) and KiHa 28 2346 (right), approach Shiromigaoka Station
Isumi is a local railway company in Chiba Prefecture, some 80km east of Tokyo. Connecting Ohara and Kazusa-Nakano, there are 14 stations over a total operating length of 26.8km. The route is single track and non-electrified. I am going to give an update on this local railway for the first time in a year. What has happened over the past year?

First, Isumi accepted an "old newcomer", the diesel rail car KiHa 28 2346. It was a classic JNR-type express rail car manufactured in 1964, and came to Isumi to spend a new life after retirement from JR West. The two-toned JNR-type colored body grabs the interest of rail fans.

Second, the body of KiHa 52 125 was repainted to a single vermilion color in January this year. It is known as "metropolitan color". The repainted body is also popular among rail fans, but not my cup of tea to be honest, since the new color is too intense for me. Currently, KiHa 52 125 is coupled with KiHa 28 2346 and operated as a sightseeing express train.

Third, rail car unit number 205 of the Type 200' was retired from the track and sent to Myanmar to spend a new life. Type 200' was launched in 1988 as the first rail car on the newly established Isumi Railway. A total of 7 units has been manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries, but, currently, only 3 units, namely unit number 201, 202 and 206, remain on the track.

Everything flows, nothing stands still.
Diesel rail car Isumi KiHa 206 of the Type 200' stands at Ootaki Rail Yard

Monday, 28 April 2014

New Train and Unique Station on the Utsunomiya Line

EMU JR East 205-600 seies leaves Hoshakuji Station on the Utsunomiya Line 

When I visited Tochigi Prefecture to see a brand new accumulator train (EMU EV- E301 series) and classic diesel rail cars (DMU KiHa 40-1000 series), I found a unique local station near Utsunomiya City.

It is Hoshakuji Station on the Utsunomiya and Karasuyama lines. This unique local station building was constructed in 2007, being designed by famous architect, Kengo Kuma. He excels at designing using natural materials such as local timbers and stones. Hoshakuji station building won a Brunel Award for design in 2008. For your information, Brunel Awards are given to railway companies to encourage outstanding visual design on the railways including the architectures and the trains. The "dinosaur-shaped" architecture is prominently backed by the blue sky.

After enjoying the unique station building, I came down to the platform. A new train, the 205-600 series had just left the station for Kuroiso. The EMU 205-600 series was a commuter train for the narrow gauge (1,067mm) track with a 1,500V DC system. It was introduced to the Utsunomiya Line in 2013 to replace the old EMU 107 and 211 series.

The 205-600 series was previously operated on the Musashino and Saikyo lines in Tokyo. It was shortened to a 4-car train to suit the number of passengers on this local line. The "face" of the train was newly manufactured on the non-driving cars. Isn't it handsome?

I enjoyed a renovated new train and a unique railway station in Tochigi Prefecture.

Entrance of Hoshakuji Station on the JR East Utsunomiya Line

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Indonesian Railway Update: Renewal of Holec

EMU KRL Jabodetabek Type "Holec" after renewal, Photo: Faris Fadhli (Jakarta Indonesia) 
I have received news from a young Indonesian rail fan again. "Holec" has come back. It returned to the track in Jakarta  after renewal on 29th of March this year. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the latest picture.

What is "Holec"? It is an EMU operated by KRL Jabodetabek (Jakarta metropolitan electric commuter railway). It was originally manufactured by PT INKA, Indonesian Railway Industries from 1994 to 2001. "Holec" is derived from the name of PT INKA's partner, Bombardier-BN "Holec". This company provided KRL Jabodetabek with the main equipment, such as the GTO-VVVF inverter system and bolster-less bogies, which are known as type K9. One set is composed of four cars, which include two driving trailers (Tc) and two non-driving motor cars (M). It is able to operate being coupled of two sets. A total of 32 sets, 128 units have been manufactured so far.

To be honest, Holec was not my cup of tea, when I lived in Jakarta from 2007 to 2011. It was shabby and jam-prone. Air-conditioners were not equipped at that time. Doors were opened, even if it was operated at high speed.... quite dangerous.

Holec is the same as the new one now. The main equipment has been redeemed for the latest model. The front design and the body coloring have also been changed. Furthermore, air conditioners have been installed. It is good news for passengers in the tropical area, so, Holec is just my cup of tea now.

EMU KRL Jabodetabek Type "Holec" before renewal (Jakarta Indonesia, July 2009)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Passing through Rainbow Bridge by Yurikamome Train

EMU Yurikamome 7000 series passes through Rainbow Bridge
The Port of Tokyo Connector Bridge, also known as Rainbow Bridge, is a suspension bridge crossing Tokyo Bay between Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba Waterfront Subcenter. It was opened in 1993 as a 798m long double-decked suspension bridge.

You can drive through Rainbow Bridge using the expressway or the ordinary road; but I recommend you take the Yurikamome Line to enjoy the beautiful view in the bay area. Yurikamome is an AGT (automated guide way transit) line, which was opened in 1995 between Shimbashi in downtown Tokyo and Ariake in the Waterfront Subcenter. The current operating length is 14.7km. The vehicle is a small-sized train with rubber-tires instead of steel bogies.

If you get on the Yurikamome train from Shimbashi Terminal, please secure the "rail fan's seat" in the front of the train. Yurikamome train is operated automatically without a driver; therefore, the passengers can enjoy the view ahead while sitting on the rail fan's seat. You will, then, find a spiral track after leaving Shibaura-futo Station. It is an approach line to Rainbow Bridge to reduce the slope angle of the track. Finally, a beautiful suspension bridge will unfold before your eyes.

Your only regret might be that the view from the bridge beam is not fantastic, since the track on the beam is covered by a metal net. The cars on the parallel road may also obstruct your field of vision. Even so, passing through Rainbow Bridge by Yurikakome train is a cost effective attraction for tourists.

View of Rainbow Bridge from Yurikamome train on the spiral track

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Seibu Blue: Train and Management

EMU Seibu 20000 series arrives at Ekoda Station on the Ikebukuro Line
The management of Seibu Railway is probably feeling blue. Currently, they are far from enjoying a good relationship with the foreign investment fund, who is a major shareholder.

Seibu Railway had been known for being managed by members of a single family. When a scandal involved the company breaking a Security and
Exchange Law in the early 2000s, Seibu was delisted from the stock exchange in Tokyo. The company has, since then, been trying to dedicate themselves to modernizing the management style. A foreign investment fund has been supporting Seibu after the crisis, but the difference of management style between the foreign fund and Seibu was obvious. Japanese management tends to think that railway companies should promote public benefit rather than be profit-oriented; meanwhile the foreign fund tends to think the investor's position.

Although the management feels blue, the blue colored train, the EMU 20000 series of Seibu Railway, enjoys vigorous health. The 20000 series is one of Seibu's major rolling stock. It debuted in 2000 as a new generation commuter train following the 6000 series. The light body is made of aluminum. 135kW/h induction motors with an IGBT-VVVF invertor control and regenerative brake systems are equipped on the train. A total of 18 sets, 144 units, have been manufactured so far by Hitachi.

Seibu Blue will continue... both the train and the management.
EMU Seibu 20000 series (right) and the 9000 series (left)
More information about the EMU Seibu 20000 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Flower Mountain on the Mooka Railway

Diesel railcar, Mooka Type 14 arrives at Kita-Mooka Station on the Mooka Line
Spring is in full bloom in the Tokyo metropolitan area. My next destination was "Hana-no-yama (Flower Mountain) in Ibaraki Prefecture, some 100km north of Tokyo.

Hana-no-yama is a kind of so-called "Satoyama". It is woodland near a populated area. Satoyama is protected from the ravages of nature, but cultivated by local people to some extent, so, a particular kind of ecosystem is created. For instance, a hill adjacent to a paddy is a typical Satoyama. We can see unique fauna and flora there.

In Hana-no-yama, we can see beautiful blossoms in spring including cherry, peach, Thunberg's meadowsweet, and forsythia. The field is filled with blossoming colorful plants. It is a paradise-like hill.

To visit this beautiful spot, take the Mooka Railway and get off at Motegi Terminal. Connecting Shimodate and Motegi, the line length is 41.9 kilometers. The whole route is an un-electrified single track. A diesel rail car, Type Mooka 14 is the main fleet on the line. This rail car was launched in 2002 to replace old cars of Type 63. A total of nine units have been manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo. The Type 14 rail car has a checkered body. A red colored stripe with a white dashed line is added in the lower half of the body. It is quite unique and my favorite.

Hana-no-yama and the Type 14 rail car... the Mooka Railway is a colorful route in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

View of Hana-no-yama (flower mountain) near Motegi Station on the Mooka Line

Friday, 18 April 2014

EMU 1000 Series: 2013 Blue Ribbon Winner

EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series stands at Shibuya Station on the Ginza Line
Currently, we can see special stickers on the body of the EMU 1000 series on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. They are memorial stickers of the 2013 Blue Ribbon Prize.

What is the Blue Ribbon Prize? It is an annual award presented by Japan Railfan Club since 1958, awarded to the best train that was launched in the previous year. Actually, almost all awarded trains to date are representative carriages in each railway company.

For example, Odakyu 3100 series (the second generation Romance Car) in 1964, JNR 0 series (the first generation Shinkansen train) in 1965, Tobu 100 series (Spacia) in 1995, Keisei AE series (Skyliner) in 2011 and JR East E5 series (present fastest Shinkansen train) in 2012 are well known as previous Blue Ribbon Prize winners.

Last year, Japan Railfan Club elected EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series as the 2013 Blue Ribbon Prize train. The 1000 series won for its high-tech system such as the steering truck to reduce noise and vibration on sharp curve tracks. It also has high-tech equipment such as permanent magnet synchronous motors and LED lights to reduce energy consumption.

To be honest, the 1000 series does not have an aura as the best annual train if it is compared with the past awarded trains; however, it is probably a train of choice for savvy railfans, since it has state-of-the-art equipment, so I think this choice was quite reasonable.

Now, which one will win the Blue Ribbon Prize this year?

The EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series has a memorial sticker on the body
More information about the old and new EMU 1000 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

EMU L0 Series: 311MPH Next Generation Train

Magnetically-elevated train, EMU JR Central L0 series passes though full-bloomed peach grove
After the Sakura (cherry) season passed, the peach blooming season has come to the Tokyo metropolitan area. Currently, rich pink-colored flowers are seen here and there in the Kofu basin, some 130km west of Tokyo.

I visited a small hill in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture with my family last weekend. It was a bright and clear day, so we could enjoy the full-blown peach blossoms backed by the snow-capped Japanese Southern Alps from the viewing point on the hill.

What we were looking for was not only the peach blossoms, but also a brand new train on the JR Central Yamanashi SCMAGLEV Test Line. SCMAGLEV is a magnetic levitation railway. The test track was recently upgraded to revenue service specifications and was extended from its original length of 18.4 to 42.8 kilometers. Commercial operation is planned to start in 2027. JR Central will operate the super express train at 500km/hour (311MPH) to connect Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes.

In accordance with the extension of the test line, JR Central introduced the SCMAGLEV train, the EMU L0 series last year. The test run of the L0 is now underway. I saw a 7-car test train from the viewing point. It passed through an elevated track and entered into a tunnel in a moment. The L0 slashed across the beautiful pink colored carpet in the Kofu basin.

Spring is in full bloom in Japan.

Yamanashi SCMAGLEV Test Line
More information about Linear Express (in Japanese):

Monday, 14 April 2014

Train in Yokohama: New Model on the Yokohama Line

EMU JR East E233-6000 series arrives at Kamoi Station on the Yokohama Line
Replacement of the old trains is under way in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Following the Saikyo Line, the Yokohama Line has also been modernized with the introduction of a new model.

The JR East Yokohama Line is a commuter route in the Yokohama area. It was opened in 1908 to transport silk from the midland area to Yokohama Port. Connecting Higashi-Kanagawa and Hachioji, the route length is 42.6km. The trains on the Yokohama Line are directly operated into the Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi Line to Ofuna.

An 8-car train, the EMU 205 series, has been operated as a singular model on the Yokohama Line; however, the situation has drastically changed recently. On February 16th this year, JR East launched a brand new train, the EMU E233-6000 series, on this route. The company plans to introduce a total of 28 sets, 224 units, by this August. It means that the entire 205 series will be retired from the Yokohama Line.

The E233-6000 series has a stainless steel body with a light green colored stripe. Light green is the "line color" of the Yokohama Line. The logo for the "YOKOHAMA LINE" is displayed on the front of the train.

The specification of the E233-6000 series is mostly the same as that of the E233-7000 series on the Saikyo Line. Induction motors with a VVVF inverter control system are equipped. LED lights are widely used for interior illumination to reduce the electric consumption.

The E233-6000 series will be a front man for the transportation in Yokohama City.

EMU JR East E233-6000 series stands at Sakuragi-cho Station on the Negishi Line

Saturday, 12 April 2014

2014 Sakura Season in Tokyo: Part 3

EMU Tobu 50050 series stands at Kudanshita Station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line
The season of full-bloomed Sakura (cherry) in Tokyo has passed all too soon. I am going to show you a picture of full-bloomed Sakura from this year. It was taken in front of the British Embassy in the downtown Tokyo area. You can see the faint pink colored blossoms against a Union Jack and the blue sky backdrop. Many Sakura trees are seen there along the street and the moat of the Imperial Palace. Tokyoites felt the herald of mid-spring.

To get to this beautiful Sakura viewing spot, the nearest station is Hanzomon on the subway Hanzomon Line. Tokyo Metro-Hanzomon Line connects Shibuya and Oshiage. There are 14 stations on the 16.8 km route. Trains on the Hanzomon Line directly operate into the Tokyu Line through Shibuya and the Tobu Line through Oshiage station. As a railfan, I like this route, because we can ride many kinds of trains that belong to Tokyo Metro, Tokyu and Tobu.

The orange colored EMU, Tobu 50050 series is a major fleet on the Hanzomon Line. It was launched in 2006. Currently, 18 sets, a total of 180 units, are operated on the Tobu-Isesaki, Tobu-Nikko, Tokyo Metro-Hanzomon, and Tokyu-Denentoshi lines. The 50050 series is a new standard commuter train on the Tobu Railway. Its brothers, namely 50000, 50070 and 50090 series, are operated on the other Tobu lines. Universal design, energy conservation, and maintenance-free are three major concepts adopted for the train. It also became a seed for the brand new EMU 60000 series on the Noda Line.
Full-bloomed Sakura is seen in front of the British Embassy near subway Hanzomon Station
More information about the EMUs of Tobu Railway (in Japanese):

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Third Anniversary of Tokyo Railway Labyrinth

EMU JR East E3-1000 series stands at Tokyo Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen
Tokyo Railway Labyrinth had its third anniversary this month. I thank all my blog readers for visiting this website over the last three years.

When I started the blog, I was stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia. At that time, my home country, Japan was facing difficulties, including tsunami and nuclear power plant disasters that followed a giant earthquake. Putting out the information on the Japanese railways was one of my supports to the home country, since most of the railways and trains were saved by the earthquake resistant construction and safety system.

In commemoration of the third anniversary of Tokyo Railway Labyrinth, I am going to show you a train with the number "3" in the name... the EMU E"3"-1000 series.

The EMU JR East E3-1000 series is the Tohoku and Yamagata Shinkansen train. Along with the Akita Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen is a kind of "mini-shinkansen", which is not built the same as the standard full-sized shinkansen. It was originally constructed as a conventional line with narrow gauge (1067mm); however, the gauge was later changed to the standard gauge (1435mm). The EMU E3-1000 series can enter the mini-shinkansen directly from standard shinkansen lines.

The only difference between full and mini shinkansens is the size of train bodies. For example, the length of a full-sized shinkansen body is 25m, while the length of the mini-shinkansen is only 20m.

The E3-1000 series is very comfortable with a maximum speed of 275km/h.

Side view of the EMU JR East E3-1000 series,super express "Tsubasa (wing)"
More information about the EMU E3-1000 series:
More information about the EMU E3-1000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The 100th Anniversary of Tokyo Station

The 100th anniversary poster is seen in Tokyo Station yard
On 20th of December this year, Tokyo Station will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Series of memorial events are being organized and planned.

Tokyo station was opened on December 20th in 1914 as the central railway terminal of Japan's capital city. Since then, this station has been expanding its scale and functions. For example, the Tokaido Shinkansen tracks were constructed in the early 1960's. The underground Sobu-Yokosuka Rapid Line was completed in 1972. Currently, Tokyo Station has 30 railway tracks aboveground and underground.

Before the 100th anniversary of Tokyo Station, JR East completed the renovation work on the main building on October 1st, 2012. The red brick masonry of the Marunouchi Entrance Building has been brought back. The renovation work was started in 2007. In addition to the renovation work of the railway operation facilities, a gallery, a hotel, and an underground car park have been constructed inside. It is said that the total construction cost was 50 billion yen (500 million US dollars).

The 100th anniversary memorial movie, "Subete wa kimi ni aeta kara (It all began when I met you)" was released last December. It was composed of six omnibus love stories set in Tokyo Station. The station acted as a place for young to meet in the film. In fact, more than 1.1 million passengers per day get on and off the trains there. In addition, many passengers change trains there.

Over the century, Tokyo Station has changed from a simple terminal station to a meeting spot.

Night view of the Marunouchi Entrance Building in Tokyo Station

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Indonesian Railway Update: The 205 Series Debuts

A 10-car train, set number HaE 15 of the EMU ex-JR East 205 series makes a debut in Jakarta
Photo: Faris Fadhli
I have received news from an active Indonesian rail fan again. The ex-JR East EMU 205 series has debuted in Jakarta. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the photos.

The 205 series is a 1,500V direct current EMU, which was originally launched in Japan in 1985. It has been widely operated on the urban routes in Tokyo. A total of 23 sets, 230 units, have been introduced to the JR East Saikyo Line. It has a stainless steel body and DC commutator motors with a resistor control system.

Two decades have passed since the 205 series debuted. The 205 series was retired from the Saikyo Line, and recently started its second life in Jakarta. A local railway operator, KRL Jabodetabek (Jakarta Metropolitan Commuter Electric Railway), is pursuing the modernization of the trains in this rapidly growing city. All non-air conditioned cars have been taken off the route. Instead, they have been importing air conditioned secondhand EMUs from Japan. A total of 18 sets, 180 units of the 205 series have crossed the ocean and arrived at Jakarta.

In the meantime, KRL Jabodetabek has taken this opportunity to start a 10-car train operation. All 205 series trains are operated as 10-car trains. Previously, the longest EMU was an 8-car train in Jakarta. To cover the "added two cars", special platforms (steps) were hastily equipped in front of the train doors in each station.

I hope that the passengers get in and out of the train safely.

"Special platforms" are prepared for the 10-car train at Manggarai Station in Jakarta, Indonesia
Photo: Faris Fadhli

Friday, 4 April 2014

2014 Sakura Season in Tokyo: Part 2

EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series
Rikugien is a famous Sakura (cherry) viewing spot in Tokyo. It was constructed between 1695 and 1702 by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, a samurai in the Tokugawa Shogunate. This traditional Japanese garden is composed of a small pond, trees, and a hill. Currently, it is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and is designated as a special place of scenic beauty by the central government.

My favorite tree in the garden is a Shidare Sakura (weeping cherry). It is an early blooming Sakura, previous to the standard ones. Its glamorous looks always rule my fantasies. Specifically, night viewing of illuminated blossoms is very attractive. I saw many people, who were enjoying this full-blown Shidare Sakura standing in a circle around the tree. It was difficult to secure my position to take pictures.

To get to this gorgeous spot, take the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line and get off at Komagome Station. Penetrating from south to north in Tokyo, the Namboku Line connects Meguro and Akabane-Iwabuchi (21.3km). The trains are directly operated into the Tokyu-Meguro and the Saitama Railway lines. The EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series is the major fleet on the line.

The 9000 series is annoying for rail photo lovers. The problem is its dark environment on the subway track as well as automatic platform gates on the platform. To take photos of this train, we have to go all the way to the Tokyu-Meguro Line, which was constructed above ground.

Taking Sakura and train pictures... photographers always have teething troubles.

Full-blown Shidare-Sakura is seen in Rikugien near Komagome Station on the Namboku Line
More information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

EMU E127-100 Series: Local Train in the Matsumoto Area

EMU JR East E127-100 series arrives at Matsumoto Station on the Ooito Line
Following the intercity express train and the nostalgic ex-Keio train, I am going to show you the other train in the Matsumoto area. Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture, some 200km west of Tokyo. It has grown as the castle city of the lords of Matsumoto Province since the 16th century. We can still see the beautiful castle tower in the center of the city as it was.

The EMU JR East E127-100 series is a representative standard commuter train in the Matsumoto area. It was launched in 1998 to replace the old EMU 169 series. The 127-100 series is a two-car train with 1,500V direct current system. A total of 12 sets, 24 units have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and JR East Tsuchizaki Factory.

With regard to the specification, the 127-100 series has a high level of efficiency, as a brand new train in the 1990s. For example, induction motors with GTO-VVVF control and regenerative braking systems are equipped. The 127-100 series also has dynamic braking system to be operated when the regenerative brake is disabled. Please do not forget that you have to push the manual operation button when you get off at a station, as the door operation is not provided by the conductor.

EMU JR East E127-100 series... it is a contemporary standard commuter train in the Matsumoto area.

EMU JR East E127-100 series leaves Matsumoto Station on the Ooito Line
More information about the EMU JR East E127 series (in Japanese):