Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Walking along the Tokyu-Setagaya Line

Set number 309F of the Tokyu 300 series approaches Miyanosaka Stop on the Setagaya Line
It is early autumn in Tokyo. Although it is still hot in the daytime, the mornings and evenings are now quite comfortable. I took a walk around the neighborhood with my camera. My destination was Sangenjaya, which is a terminal of the Tokyu- Setagaya Line. I enjoyed taking photographs while strolling along the track to Sangenjaya.

The Setagaya Line, connecting Sangenjaya and Shimo-Takaido (5.0 km), was completed in 1925 as a tram route. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,372 mm. The whole route is an exclusive double track.

The electric car 300 series is the only model operated on the Setagaya Line. It was launched in 1999 to replace old models such as the 150 series. The train is articulated and composed of two cars. A total of 10 sets have been manufactured so far. Each set is a different color. They are blue, light blue, green, turquoise green, red, pink, yellow, light purple, orange and ex-Tamaden color. The tram runs leisurely through residential areas in a western suburb of Tokyo. This time, I am going to show you the orange colored tram, which is set number 309F, as the top photo.

After reaching Sangenjaya Terminal, I visited an observation deck of Carrot Tower, which is the tallest building in this area. This spot offered me a great view of the western suburb of Tokyo. I could see the Setagaya Line track and lovely trams just like a miniature railroad below my eyes.

A view of the Tokyu Setagaya Line from the observation deck of Carrot Tower Building

Saturday, 27 September 2014

First-generation N'EX in Danish Rail-fan's Photo Album

First-generation Narita Express (N'EX), EMU JR East 253 series (1996)
Photo: Nicolai Okkels 
Following the EMU Keikyu ex-1000 series, I am going to show you the other old train picture from a Danish rail-fan's photo album.

The top photo is the EMU JR East 253 series, Narita Express (N'EX) taken in the mid-1990s. The 253 series was launched in 1991 as the first-generation access train to the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita). Specification of the 253 series was rather old, as it had traditional DC series motors with rheostatic control system, but it received a lot of applause by passengers and rail-fans. For instance, the large baggage storage spaces for international travelers had a good reception.

The 253 series, first-generation N'EX, was retired in 2010, but two sets, twelve units still remain on the JR East Line for use as sightseeing trains to the Nikko area, under new name of the 253-1000 series. Furthermore, the other two sets, six units, were transferred to Nagano Electric Railway (Nagaden) in 2011. They are operated as the EMU 2100 series called Snow Monkey.

Finally, I am going to show the present, second-generation N'EX, E259 series, in the photograph below. The E259 series was launched in 2009. It has the state-of-art equipment and facilities, such as 140 kW three phase induction motors with an IGBT-VVVF inverter control system. The maximum speed of the E259 series is same as that of the 253 series (130 km/hour).

Thank you again Nicolai-san for providing this blog with your precious train photograph.

Second-generation Narita Express (N'EX), EMU JR East E259 series (2014)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

C-Flyer on the Hokuso Line

EMU Hokuso 9100 series, "C-Flyer", arrives at Yotsugi Station on the Keisei-Oshiage Line
Hokuso is a small railway in Chiba Prefecture. Connecting Keisei-Takasago and Komuro, its operating length is 19.8 km. The track is double and the gauge size is 1,435 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

Hokuso is also in charge of the operation on the adjacent railway, namely, Chiba Newtown Railway. It has a 12.5 km-long route between Komuro and Chiba-Newtown-Chuo stations. Furthermore, trains on the Hokuso Line are extended to operate onto the Keisei, Toei-Asakusa and Keikyu lines.

EMU 9100 series is the main fleet on the Hokuso Line. It was launched in 1995 to reinforce transportation capacity on the line. A total of three sets, 24 units, have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo. The nickname of the 9100 series is "C-Flyer". "C" stands for Chiba Newtown, while "Flyer" means rapid vehicle like the wind. Public telephones had been equipped in the train for passengers to use, but they were abolished several years ago, because mobile phones have become so popular.

I like this train, as it has a wide variety of seating configurations. Passengers can choose long or cross seats as they like. Needless to say, I always choose a cross seat to enjoy the scenery from the window as a rail fan. This seat has a good level of hardness, which is comfortable for me.

C-flyer always gives me an atmosphere of being on a vacation tour for a while.
Side view of the EMU Hokuso 9100 series, "C-Flyer"
More information about Hokuso Railway (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

SL Express: Access to the Pleasure River

SL Express (C58 363 + passenger carriages) approaches Nagatoro Station on the Chichibu Railway
Chichibu Railway is a local company in Saitama Prefecture, some 70 km northwest of Tokyo. Connecting Hanyu, a junction station on the Tobu-Isesaki Line, and Mitsumineguchi, a gateway village of a trail up the Kanto Mountains, the total operating length is 71.7km. The track is electrified and single. Its gauge size is 1,067 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V overhead.

The train, which puts Chichibu Railway on the map, is an express train pulled by steam locomotive (SL), C58 363. As I introduced before, Type C58 is a 1-C-1 type large SL coupled with a coal tender. A total of 431 units had been manufactured since 1938, but currently, only two units, namely numbers 239 on the JR East Kamaishi Line and 363 on the Chichibu Railway are operated on the tracks.

On August 6th, 2012, C58 363 of Chichibu Railway derailed in Hirosegawara Rail Yard while shunting. The body of the SL leaned, and the front wheels were severely damaged. It took seven months for repairs to be carried out for SL operation to be resumed. The maintenance of the SL is a really troublesome task I think.

Are you taking Chichibu Railway? Where are you going by SL express train? One of my recommended spots is Arakawa River near Nagatoro Station. It is a pleasure river for holidaymakers. You can enjoy swimming, fishing and rafting in the river. I saw many people, who were rafting, jump into the river from a large rock. Cool!
People, who are rafting, jump into Arakawa River near Nagatoro Station on the Chichibu Railway
More information about Chichibu Railway: http://www.chichibu-railway.co.jp/en/

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Old Keikyu Photos in Danish Rail-fan's Album

Set number 1259F of the EMU Keikyu 1000 series approaches Yokohama Station (1996)
Photo: Nicolai Okkels
One of my blog readers kindly sent me his photographs of Japanese trains in the mid-1990s. He is a Danish rail fan and stayed in Japan from 1995 to 1996. Some of the train photos are precious, as they have already been retired from the tracks. I am going to show you his nostalgic photos bit by bit from now on.

The Keikyu 1000 series is famous for modern commuter trains in Tokyo, but do you know that Keikyu once had another 1000 series (ex-1000 series) train? The EMU ex-1000 series was launched in 1959 for a direct operation train to the subway, Toei-Asakusa Line. A total of 356 units have been manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo, Kawasaki Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries over 19 years. The red colored steel bodies with DC motors and rheostatic control system are classic and nostalgic.

The first photo was probably taken near Yokohama Station. An 8 car northbound train, set number 1259F, was running under the JR East Negishi Line and approaching Yokohama Station. The display on the front shows the limited express train bound for Oshiage on the Toei-Asakusa Line.

The second photo is also interesting. It was probably shot on the platform of Kanagawa-Shinmachi Station. A 4-car southbound local train, set number 1317F, was leaving for Uraga Terminal. Please enjoy the typical old sturdy commuter trains in Japan.

Thanks, Nicolai-san, for providing me with precious old Keikyu photos.

Set number 1317F of the EMU Keikyu 1000 series leaves Kanagawa-Shinmachi Station (1996)
Photo: Nicolai Okkels

Friday, 19 September 2014

The 600 Series for the 600th Post

Set number 606F of the EMU 600 series, "Keikyu Blue Sky Train", stands at Shinagawa Station

Thank you for visiting Tokyo Railway Labyrinth. This is the 600th post in my blog. In the last three and a half years, I have made many friends through this blog. They are mostly rail-fans as well as travelers. I hope that people all over the world will continue to enjoy my blog. In commemoration of the "600th" post, I am going to show the EMU "600" series train.

As you may know, Keikyu is one of the large private railway companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area. They have a total of 87 km line network in the region; however, this company is facing fierce competition from Tokyo Monorail Company on the route between downtown Tokyo and Tokyo International Airport. To survive in this challenging business environment, Keikyu operates the airport access trains from the city center area frequently to attract passengers.

The EMU 600 series is one of the main fleets for the airport access transportation. It was launched in 1994 to replace the old models. A total of 14 sets, 88 units, have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Most of the 600 series trains have red colored bodies, but there is one exception. It is set number 606F, which has a blue colored body. Keikyu call it the "Keikyu Blue Sky Train". The 606F is often used as a special poster train for an airline company's advertisement.

Set number 608F of the EMU Keikyu 600 series (standard color) stands at Shinagawa Station

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Kiunkaku Mansion and Bagatelle Train

Set number TA-2 of the EMU Izukyu 8000 series, "Bagatelle Train", arrives at Atami Station (2012)
Atami is a famous resort city located in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture, some 100km west of downtown Tokyo. The name of the city, Atami, means "hot sea". Obviously, it represents the hot springs that are seen on the coast in this city.

One of the must-see spots in the city is Kiunkaku Mansion. It was
constructed in 1918 as a resort villa for Uchida Nobunari, who was Minister of Railway at that time. This villa was composed of Japanese and Western style buildings with a large garden. Currently, the site is owned by the city office and is open to the public. A traditional Japanese style room, "Kirin (giraffe)", and the attached garden is my favorite. Once sitting on the tatami (straw-mat) floor in Kirin Room, we can enjoy the relaxing garden scenery through the windows.

Speaking of Atami, I am going to show you a railway in the city. Atami is also known as a gateway city to Izu Peninsula, which is a beautiful resort area for Tokyoites. To visit this paradise, take the Izukyu Line from Atami Station.

The top photo was taken in 2012. It is set number TA-2 of the EMU Izukyu (ex-Tokyu) 8000 series standing at Atami Station. It was a poster train to promote sightseers to Kawazu Bagatelle Park (a reputable rose garden) on the Izukyu Line. I liked this coloring design, especially the beautifully designed pencil stripes and rose blossoms on the body.

A trip to Atami is interesting all the way through.

Kiunkaku Mansion near Atami Station

Monday, 15 September 2014

Tokyu-Denentoshi Line: 78,358 Passengers per Hour

EMU Tokyu 8500 series arrives at Aobadai Station on the Denentoshi Line
Tokyu is a major private railway company in the Tokyo metropolitan area. They have a labyrinthine railway network in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. Tokyu group does 20 billion dollars a year in sales on a consolidated basis.

One of the large profit contributions to the company is the Denentoshi Line. Connecting Shibuya, a sub-center of Tokyo, and Chuo-Rinkan, a junction station on the Odakyu-Enoshima Line, the total route length is 31.5 km. The gauge size is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The trains are directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon or the Tokyu-Ooimachi lines.

What does "the large profit contribution to Tokyu" imply? It implies "crowded". According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the number of passengers carried by the Denentoshi Line trains was 78,353 persons per hour in the morning rush hour in 2012, which was the second largest in Japan (the largest one was the JR East Chuo-Rapid Line). The congestion factor was 183%, which means that the trains were packed.

Tokyu can't keep their arms crossed. They have been reinforcing the transportation capacities of the Denentoshi Line over the decades. For instance, the construction of a double-double track between Futako-Tamagawa and Mizonokuchi was an effective solution. The introduction of 12 door cars was also effective to reduce the boarding and alighting time, but it is still crowded.

The Denentoshi Line is a representation of transportation in a super-high density city.

EMU Tokyu 6000 series arrives at Aobadai Station on the Denentoshi Line

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New Train and Classic Tower

EMU Toei 12-600 series stands at Shinjuku Station on the Ooedo Line
Toei (Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) is one of the major railway operators in Tokyo. They operate a total of seven subway, tram, AGT and monorail lines. The Ooedo Line is the second newest subway route in Tokyo. Currently, the route consists of the circle and branch sections. Its total operating length is 40.7 km. The track is double and the gauge size is 1,435 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The linear motor technology is adopted for the train driving system on the line.

The latest model, EMU 12-600 series was launched in 2012 to reinforce the transportation capacity on the Ooedo Line. A total of two sets, 16 units, have been manufactured so far by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The specification of the 12-600 series is mostly the same as its predecessor, the 12-000 series, but some differences exist, such as shape of the pantographs and type of the electric control system. It should be also noted that magenta colored stripes are added on the "face" of the 12-600 series.

Where are you going? Are you taking the Ooedo Line? One of my recommended spots is Tokyo Tower near Akabanebashi Station. Tokyo Tower was completed in 1958, as the tallest artificial structure (333 m high) in Japan. Although it ceded the top spot to Tokyo Sky Tree (634 m high) in 2011, this elegant iron tower still keeps its position as the most popular sightseeing spot in Tokyo.

Tokyo Tower (333m) is located near Akabanebashi Station on the Toei-Ooedo Line

Thursday, 11 September 2014

KuYa 31: Techno-inspector on the Odakyu Line

Odakyu's inspection car, KuYa 31 stands at Kyodo Station on the Odawara Line
I sometimes come across a special train at Kyodo Station on the Odakyu Line close to my home. It is similar to the EMU 3000 series, but has only a few windows. Why is that?

It is unit number KuYa 31, an Odakyu inspection car. The purpose of the operation of KuYa 31 is to inspect the tracks and catenaries on all routes of the Odakyu Line. Its nickname is "Techno-Inspector," which was chosen from submissions from the public.

KuYa 31 was manufactured in 2004 by Tokyu Sharyo. It has a common outer design with the EMU 3000 series. Before the launching of KuYa 31, Odakyu Electric Railway had an old inspection car, named the PV-6. The problem with the PV-6 was its slow inspection speed. It took seven days to inspect all 120km of the routes, namely the Odawara, the Enoshima and the Tama lines; while the KuYa 31 takes only two days.

KuYa 31 cannot propel itself, as it doesn't have electric motors. Usually, it is coupled with the EMU 1000 series, especially set numbers 1051F, 1751F or 1752F. The driver's cabin in the KuYa 31 is equipped only on the Odawara side, so the cabin on the coupled train, the EMU 1000 series, is used when the inspection train is operated toward Shinjuku. KuYa 31 is operated twice a month on average.

KuYa 31 is the state of the art techno-inspector on the Odakyu Line.

Side view of KuYa 31, Techno-Inspector

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

National Treasure on the Takasaki Line

EMU JR East 231 series arrives at Gyoda Station on the Takasaki Line
Kangi-in is an old Buddhist temple in Kumagaya City of Saitama Prefecture, some 70 km north of Tokyo. It was opened in 1179 by Saito Sanemori, who was a Kumagaya-based local military commander.

In 2012, the main building of Kangi-in temple, namely Shodendo, was designated as a national treasure by the government. It was originally built some time around 1184, but it was reconstructed in 1760 by Hayashi Masakiyo, who was a head of carpenters.

Shodendo is a large reputable building, but more importantly, there are many colorful sculptures on the walls of the building. They are phoenixes, great men and children. Repairs to Shodendo were started in 2003, as it was weathered and worn. It took 7 years to complete the renovations and it was perfect when it was reopened. Local people are proud of this new national treasure.

To get to this precious spot, take the JR East Takasaki Line and get off at Kumagaya Station. It takes about one hour by rapid train from Ueno in the downtown Tokyo area. The EMU E231 series is the main fleet on the line. This model is basically the same as that of the train being operated on the Tokaido Main Line. It was launched in 2000 to replace the old model, the 115 series. All of the trains belong to Oyama Rail Yard near Oyama Station.

The delightful train takes you rapidly to the city of national treasure.

Shodendo (National Treasure) in Kangiin Temple near Kumagaya Station on the Takasaki Line 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Thinking of the Disaster City

Unit number 809 of the electric car, Hiroden Type 800 arrives at Dobashi Stop
We had broken weather this summer in Japan. It was very hot in the first half. The daytime maximum temperature in many places often reached 35 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, it was rainy every day in the second half of the summer. Many areas in Japan were subjected to torrential rain. Especially, a typhoon caused heavy damage to Hiroshima City, some 900 km west of Tokyo. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Hiroshima saw 120 mm (4.74 inches) of rainfall in just one hour. Many houses were destructed by multiple mudslides along the Chugoku Mountains. I hope that local people quickly got over the shock of this disaster.

Speaking of Hiroshima, I am going to show you an electric car in Hiroshima City with my feeling for local people. As I mentioned before, Hiroshima is well known as Japan's largest tram network city. Its total operating length is 35.1km. The track gauge is 1,435mm and the electric system is 600V DC overhead. Currently, 299 units are operated on the tracks.
The electric car 800 series is one of the major fleets on the Hiroshima Electric Railway (Hiroden). It was commissioned as a new standard streetcar model in 1983. A total of 14 units have been manufactured so far by Alna Koki. Each one is 13.5 m or 13.68 m long, and carries 91 passengers.
The electric car 800 series will take part in the activity of reconstruction of the city as vigorous urban transporters.

Unit number 808 of the electric car, Hiroden Type 800 stands at Yokogawa Terminal

Friday, 5 September 2014

Rose Garden on the Saikyo Line

EMU JR East E233-7000 series arrives at Naka-Urawa Station on the Saikyo Line
I can't believe that it is September already, as I feel as though I just celebrated the New Year a short while ago. Before introducing the topics of autumn, I am going to step back to spring time this year for a while.

In May, I visited Yono, some 30 km north of Tokyo. Yono used to be a small urban commuter city, but it was incorporated with several surrounding cities, and became part of the larger Saitama City in 2003.

Yono Rose Garden was opened as a part of Yono Park in 1977 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the park. The main concept of the rose garden was "an investment for people's hearts". Following this concept, people of Yono started a rose festival in 1980, which has become a large regional event. When we visited the garden, I saw many rose lovers, including foreigners, admiring the blossoms.

To visit this gorgeous spot, JR East Saikyo Line is convenient. Connecting Oosaki and Oomiya, the route length is 36.9 km. The entire route is an electrified double track. The track gauge is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

The Saikyo Line penetrates suburban residential areas in the northern part of Tokyo Metropolis and Saitama City. The EMU JR East E233-7000 series is the major fleet on the line. The E233-7000 series debuted in 2013 to replace the old EMU 205 series. The shining stainless steel body with its green-colored stripe is fresh.

Rose garden in the Yono Park near Yono-honcho Station on the Saikyo Line

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Gondola Lift to Panorama Park

View from Izunokuni Panorama Park Ropeway near Sanroku Station
Mt. Katsuragi is located in the northern part of Izu Peninsula, some 120 km southwest of Tokyo. Although it is a small mountain that stands only 452 m above sea level, the summit is famous for its glorious view of Mt. Fuji far across Suruga Bay. I visited this superb spot with my family at the weekend.

To get to this viewing spot, Izunokuni Panorama Park Ropeway is convenient. It was opened in 1962, and renovated in 1992 due to antiquated equipment. Izunokuni Panorama Ropeway is a gondola lift, whose operating length is 1.8 km. The height difference between the highest and lowest points of the route is 411 m. The maximum angle of the route is 36 degrees. Six-seater gondolas are operated at the speed of 5.0 meters per second. It takes about seven minutes from Sanroku (foot of the mountain) to Sancho (summit) Station. A total of 40 cabins are operated every half a minute.

While we embarked on the gondola with high expectation, it was misty around the summit. In the end we couldn't see a view of Mt. Fuji that day. We felt faintly sorry... but never mind as we cooled off on a hot summer day escaping from the heat in the city. There are 170 aerial lifts in Japan. I have already introduced 13 routes so far; however, 158 routes are yet-to-be-reported. It will be a never ending story.

In the meantime, I have linked to a Danish rail fan's infromative website, Letbaner. DK. Please enjoy the latest news on the urban railways in Denmark.
View from Izunokuni Panorama Park Ropeway near Sacho Station

Monday, 1 September 2014

EMU Tobu 100 Series, "Spacia": New Colors

EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia" (purple color), arrives at JR East Shinjuku Station 

Tobu is one of the major railway companies in Japan. They operate the largest private railway network in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and are aggressive in diversifying their business. Their current biggest news is the grand opening of Tokyo Sky Tree, the 634 meter-high world's tallest broadcasting tower near Oshiage Station in 2012.

Tobu Railway, then, geared up for the promotion of tourism to Nikko, a World Heritage Site by renovating their flagship train, "Spacia", the EMU 100 series. The interior of Spacia has become more gorgeous and the exterior colors have also been changed. Currently, there are three body colors, namely orange, purple and blue.

Spacia was launched in 1990. A total of 9 sets, 54 units have been manufactured so far by Alna Koki and Tokyu Sharyo. Because of its unique design and high specifications, Spacia was elected as the 1991 Blue Ribbon Prize train. As you may know, the Blue Ribbon Prize is an annual award presented by the 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.

I, recently, had a chance to take photographs of the new colored Spacia in JR East Shinjuku Station, since Spacia is directly operated onto the JR East lines in the downtown Tokyo area. The new colored trains were shining beautifully under the evening illumination in the station yard.

EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia" (green color), stands at JR East Shinjuku Station