Sunday, 29 June 2014

Toei 5501: Preserved American Style PCC Car

Preserved streetcar, unit number 5501 of the Toei 5500 series, "PCC Car"
After joining Tram Day event in Arakawa Depot on the Arakawa Line, I popped into a small museum adjacent to the depot to see some preserved trams.

The main exhibit here is a classic American style streetcar, unit number 5501 of the Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) 5500 series. This elegant tram belongs to the group of PCC Cars. As you may know, the PCC Car was developed in the 1930s by Electric Railway Presidents' Conference Committee (ERPCC) in the United States. The members of the ERPCC were tram operators, who shared a sense of crisis about the rise of family cars in the US. The committee jointly developed a new high-performance streetcar, namely the PCC Car, in 1936.

The technology of PCC car was exported to Japan in the 1950s. At that time, Japan was still in the postwar reconstruction period. Tokyoites had a serious shortage of transportation means. Importing the technology of the PCC car was welcome news for the people. The Japanese PCC Car, unit number 5501, was manufactured in 1954 by Naniwa Koki under license of Transit Research Corporation of the United States. The 5501 had been operated on Route 1 for 13 years. It was the main tram route in Tokyo passing through Ginza, the most famous downtown area.

I was fascinated by this elegant streamlined streetcar. The pantograph on the roof of the body is also beautiful and my favorite. I hope that this elegant streetcar comes back to the track someday in the future.

Side view of unit number 5501 of the Toei 5500 series