Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Streetcar with Christmas Decorations

Electric car, number 9001 of the Toei 9000 series stands at Arakawa-kuyakusho-mae Stop
The 2014 Christmas season has passed. How did you spend the Christmas holidays this year? I am not a Christian, but I could also feel Christmas here and there in Tokyo. For instance, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Toei) operated a special streetcar during the Christmas season. It was car number 9001 of the electric car 9000 series on the Arakawa Line.

As you know, the Arakawa Line is a precious survivor of the tram route in Tokyo. It had been operated as two routes, namely Route 27 and 32. They were integrated into one route, the Arakawa Line, in 1974. Connecting Waseda and Minowabashi, its operating length is 12.2 km. The track is 1,372 mm-size gauge and double. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead.

The electric car 9000 series is the latest model on the line. It was commissioned in 2007. A total of 2 units have been manufactured so far by Aluna Sharyo. Each unit has a different color, red (car number 9001) and blue (car number 9002). Although the specification of the 9000 series has been modernized, the exterior design and interior atmosphere of this model remains retro-inspired.

You can see a Christmas wreath on the front of car number 9001. Santa Claus and the other Christmas characters are also seen on the side windows. They are beautiful and lovely. National flags of Japan (Rising Sun flags) were also displayed on December 23rd, which was the Emperor's Birthday.

Only two days are now left in 2014.
Side view of the electric car 9001 with Christmas decorations

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Tankoro Festival on the Enoden Line

Front view of car number 108, the electric car Enoden 100 series, "Tankoro"
Following the rail yard tour on the Shin-Keisei Railway, I am going to show you the other public event, which was recently held by Enoshima Electric Railway.

Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden) is a convenient mode of transportation to get around the historical Kamakura City, which is located about 40 km southwest of Tokyo. Connecting Kamakura and Fujisawa on the Tokaido and Odakyu lines, its operating length is 10 km. The track is 1,067 mm-size single, and its electric system is 600 V DC overhead.

The public event, "Tankoro Festival", was held in Enoden's Gokurakuji Rail Yard. The main exhibition was... of course, Tankoro. What is Tankoro? It is an old electric car, which is being kept in an operational state in the rail yard. Tankoro, whose formal name is "electric car, number 108 of the Enoden 100 series", was manufactured in 1931 by Niigata Tekko. He (or she) is the 8th boy (girl) of the 100 series brothers (sisters).

The specification of Tankoro is very old. Direct electric control and straight air brake systems are still used, but it is very handsome and nostalgic. The frontal mask is slightly convex, and it has three large windows. A large single round light is attached at the top of the front. The green and cream colored riveted body with window sills and window headers tell us the long history of this train.

I am truly grateful to Enoshima Electric Railway Company to have held this special event.

Car number 108 of the electric car Enoden 100 series (Tankoro) is exhibited in Gokurakuji Rail Yard
More infomation about car number 108 of the electric car Enoden 100 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Histric Street on the Nagareyama Line

EMU Ryutetsu 5000 series arrives at Heiwadai Station
Along with the old artificial river, I am going to introduce the other picturesque spot in Nagareyama City.

Nagareyama has been developed as a center of an inland water transportation system since the 18th Century. Thanks to the water transportation, Nagareyama has prospered for a long time. It has gorgeous shopping streets such as Dozo-dukuri, which are made of timbers, but the walls were coated with stucco for resistance to fire. The photo below was built as a draper's shop in 1890. It is a kaleidoscope shop now.

Currently, Nagareyama, which has a population of about 170,000, became a commuter city rather than the center of the inland water transportation. Many people go to their offices and schools in Tokyo by train. One of the must-be-remembered railways for rail-fans is the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line. It is a small local railway, connecting Mabashi on the JR East Joban Line and Nagareyama (5.7 km). The entire route is an electrified single track. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead and the gauge size is 1,067 mm.

The rolling stock on the Nagareyama Line is the EMU ex-Seibu 101 series. It was moved to Ryutetsu in 2009 and named the 5000 series. A total of five sets are operated on the track. They are light blue, red, yellow, orange and green. The 2-car trains are operated every 15 minutes on average.

A visit to Nagareyama is interesting all the way through.

The old shop near Heiwadai Station on the Ryutetsu Line

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Rail Yard Tours on the Shin-Keisei Line

Shin-Keisei trains are exhibited in Kunugiyama Rail Yard near Kunugiyama Station
I had forgotten to post my blog entry about one more railway event in October this year. It was the rail yard tour on the Shin-Keisei Line.

Shin-Keisei (New Keisei) is a private railway company in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. It is an affiliate firm of Keisei Electric Railway Company, and classified as a mid-sized railway in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Matsudo on the JR East Joban Line and Tsudanuma on the Keisei Main Line, there are 24 stations over a total operating length of 26.5km. The track is a 1,435mm-size and electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. Most of the route is a double track, and 6-car trains are operated every 10 minutes on average during the daytime.

The event was held in Kunugiyama (Sawtooth Oak Mountain) Rail Yard near Kunugiyama Station. Joining a photo session, I could get a beautiful shot of a whole formation of Shin-Keisei trains. The new colored trains were dazzling. They are white and pink colored EMUs, 8800 and 8900 series. Both of them are Shin-Keisei's main fleet on the track.

In the meantime, many other activities were also seen in the yard. The same as the Saitama Railway event, maintenance vehicle tours were very popular attractions for the kids. I also saw a crowd of people buying Shin-Keisei's railway goods such as a 2015 calendar.

I am truly grateful to Shin-Keisei Electric Railway to have held this special event.

Crew cabin of the EMU Shin-Keisei 8800 series is open to the public in Kunigiyama Rail Yard

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Newcomer on the Shonan Monorail Line

Set number 4 of the EMU 5000 series travels on the Shonan Monorail Line
I visited the Shonan Monorail Line two years to the day since 2012. Anything new? Yes, a new train, set number 4 of the EMU 5000 series was launched in February of this year.

First of all, let me explain the Shonan Monorail Line. This route was opened in 1970 as the second suspended type monorail line in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Ofuna on the JR East Tokaido Line and Shonan-Enoshima stations, the operating length is 6.6 km. The track is single and the electric system is 1,500 V DC. The route passes through industrial and residential quarters in the Kamakura Mountain area. Trains are operated every 7.5 minutes during the daytime.

The EMU 5000 series is the main fleet on the line. It was launched in 2004 to replace the old model, the 400 series. One set of the train is composed of three motor cars. The IGBT-VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) electric control system is on board and the maximum operating speed is 75km per hour.

A total of four sets, 12 cars have been manufactured so far by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The latest set, namely, set number 4 (car number 5606, 5207 and 5608), has yellow-colored stripes on the aluminum alloy body; meanwhile, the other three sets have red, blue or light green-colored stripes on the bodies. The large windows to view the beautiful scenery of Kamakura Mountain are my favorite.

Riding on the 5000 series monorail train... enjoy a short journey to Kamakura.
Set number 4 of the EMU 5000 series stands at Nishi-Kamakura Station
More information about the EMU Shonan Monorail 5000 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Advent of Winter on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 233 series stands at Ochanomizu Station on the Chuo Line
Autumn has gone and winter is here in the Tokyo Metropolis. The maximum daytime temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius every day. The leaves on the ginkgo trees have already turned yellow and started defoliating. Once a cold wave comes, it always snows in the areas on the Sea of Japan. In contrast, it is always clear in the regions here on the Pacific Ocean. The high mountain ranges, which run nearly the full length of the country, give the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean sides vastly different climatic patterns in this country.

I am going to introduce two spots this time of year in the city center on the Chuo Line, which is my commuting route.

The top photo shows colored leaves in the Ochanomizu Station area. Many trees are seen in Yushima Seido, which was established as Japan's first national school in the 17th century. The commuter train on the left is the EMU JR East E233 series on the Chuo Rapid Line. You can also see subway tracks of the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line adjacent to the Chuo Rapid Line.

The second photo is a street view in the Moto-Akasaka area near Yotsuya Station. This area is located near the state guest house in the city center. Since it was the weekend, the area was very quiet. There were far fewer cars on the road than on weekdays. I could enjoy viewing the beautiful colored leaves along the street.

Time flies so quickly and the year 2014 is ending soon.

Colored leaves are seen near Yotsuya Station on the Chuo Line

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Newcomer on the Tokyu Tamagawa Line

EMU Tokyu 1000-1500 series arrives at Numabe Station on the Tokyu Tamagawa Line
Following the Seibu Tamagawa Line, I am going to show you the other Tamagawa Line in Tokyo... the Tokyu Tamagawa Line.

The Tokyu Tamagawa Line was opened in 1923 as a part of the Mekama Line. The route was split into two lines, namely the Meguro and the Tamagawa lines, in 2000 for the restructuring of Tokyu's railway network. The current operating length of the Tamagawa Line is only 5.6 km, connecting Kamata and Tamagawa stations. The route is a 1,067 mm-sized double track and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

Along with the 7000, 7600 and 7700 series, the EMU 1000-1500 series is the main fleet on the Tokyu Tamagawa Line. The 1000-1500 series was originally launched in the early 1990s on the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Some of the units were moved to the Tamagawa Line after modification this year. Currently, 3 sets of 3-car trains are operated on the line.

The 1000-1500 series is my cup of tea, as the coloring of the bodies is my favorite. It is basically the same as the 7000 series, which debuted in 2007 as new-model cars. Two single-armed pantographs equipped on the roof of car number 2 are a good accent. Induction motors with the new IGBT-VVVF inverter electric control system are on board.

The EMU 1000-1500 series... welcome to the Tokyu Tamagawa Line. I wish these trains well for their new lives on the line.

EMU Tokyu 1000-1500 series stands at Kamata Terminal on the Tokyu Tamagawa Line

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Changing Osaka Loop Line

EMU JR West 201 series stands at Osaka Station on the Osaka Loop Line
Along with the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, Osaka also has a loop line in the center of the city. The route name is Osaka Loop Line, no less.

The size of the Osaka Loop Line is two-thirds of the Yamanote Line. It has 19 stations on the 21.7 km-long route; meanwhile, there are 29 stations on the 34.9 km-long on the Yamanote Line. The EMU 201 series is a main fleet on the line. It was launched in 1979 to replace old models such as the 103 series. A total of 1,018 units have been manufactured for commuter lines in the Tokyo and Osaka areas, but it has already disappeared from the Tokyo area.

One of the features of the 201 series is that the armature-chopper control system is equipped on the train. It makes a signature buzzing sound during acceleration and deceleration. So, I felt very nostalgic when I rode the 201 series on the Osaka Loop Line. Although, the 201 series is my favorite as a rail fan, it is unpopular among Osakans, since it is "dirty, dark and worn-out".

JR West recently made a press release announcing that the renovation project of the Osaka Loop Line has started. It includes renewal of the stations and launching of a new model, the 323 series, which will debut in 2016. You can see the promotion movie about the changing Osaka Loop Line in the JR West's website.

Osaka Loop Line... it is a changing urban route, both the trains and the scenery.
Night view of the changing Osaka Station area

Thursday, 11 December 2014

EMU 225 Series: Rapid Train to the Suburb of Osaka

EMU JR West 225-5000 series stands at Mikunigaoka Station on the Hanwa Line

The EMU 225 series is the JR West's latest model for rapid service trains in the Osaka metropolitan area. It was launched in 2011 on the Tokaido (the 225-0 series) and Hanwa (the 225-5000 series) lines.

The greatest characteristic of the 225 series is its high level of collision safety. In response to the Amagasaki rail crash, which occurred in 2005, this new model has a special crumple zone to mitigate collision shock to passengers, just in case. The other feature is that all cars have motors, but each car has both driving wheels and non-driving wheels (so-called 0.5M system) to equalize each car's behavior. The specification of the train is modern, being equipped with induction motors and IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive) electric control system.

Riding on the 225 series, I visited Daisenryo Tumulus in Sakai City. It is said that this large tomb was constructed in the early 5th century, as the mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku. It is in the shape of a keyhole and is 486 meters long.

Today, it is an off-limits area controlled by the Imperial Household Agency. Visitors are allowed to enter only the gate of the tomb, but I could feel the hugeness of it. Thanks to it being "off-limits", the nature in the tomb has been retained perfectly, even though it is surrounded by a residential area. I could see the beautiful colored leaves along the moat and hear the birds chirping from the forest in the tomb.
Daisenryo Tumulus is located near Mozu Station on the JR West Hanwa Line

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Kyo-train: The Hospitality of Hankyu Railway

 Set number 6354F of the EMU Hankyu 6300 series, "Kyo-train", stands at Juso Station

I have never seen this most Osakan of all trains. It is beautifully painted, elegantly designed and luxurious, but no extra fee is needed for boarding. What is it? It is 6354F of the EMU 6300 series, "Kyo-train", of Hankyu Railway.

Hankyu is one of the major private railway companies in Osaka. It operates about a 140-km-long railway network in the Osaka metropolitan area including Kobe and Kyoto cities. The track is 1,435mm gauge and electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

As is the case with Tokyo, the railway business in the Osaka metropolitan area is competitive. Many companies are fighting to attract passengers. For that purpose, Hankyu recently launched a luxury train to promote passengers to travel to Kyoto. That is the Hankyu's flagship model, "Kyo-train". Kyo-train was originally manufactured as an 8-car train by Alna Koki in the late 1970s. It was renovated and re-launched as a luxury 6-car train in 2011. For your information, the meaning of "Kyo-train" is Kyoto train.

The body of Kyo-train is beautiful and elegant. Its color is called "Hankyu maroon", which is like a chocolate or a dark brown shell of a sweet chestnut. The bodies are also decorated with illustrated gold-colored traditional Japanese fans. More importantly, the interior of the train is very luxurious. Specifically, cars number 4 and 5 have nostalgic box seats, reflecting the image of traditional houses in Kyoto.

Kyo-train... it is the hospitality of Hankyu Railway.

Set number 6354F of the EMU Hankyu 6300 series, "Kyo-train", leaves Juso Station
More information about Kyo-train (in Japanese):

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Osaka: Another Kingdom of Railways

Two sets of the EMU JR West 321 series stand at Osaka Station on the Tokaido Main Line
Osaka, which is located some 500 km west of Tokyo, is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. The population of the area now stands at 18.64 million. More than 1.2 million people commute into Osaka City every day.

Along with Tokyo, the railway network in the Osaka metropolitan area is very extensive and labyrinthine. It is composed of JR West, JR Central, Keihan, Kintetsu, Hankyu, Hanshin, Osaka Municipal Subway and other smaller railways. As a rail fan, I prefer the railways in Osaka to those in Tokyo to be honest. It is because the railways in Osaka have a great variety of trains. The design of the trains is also more unique than that of trains in Tokyo.

If you wish to see how the trains are going in Osaka, please visit JR West's Osaka Station. You will get a glimpse of the railways in Osaka there. This giant station has eleven tracks, where both inter-city express and local commuter trains arrive and depart all day long. More importantly, Osaka Station forms a giant "station complex" in conjunction with adjacent Umeda Station of Hankyu, Hanshin and Osaka Municipal Subway. A total of 26 tracks are seen in the Osaka-Umeda station complex.

I recently visited Osaka with my family. It was a short stay, but I could ride on some Osaka trains to visit reputable sightseeing spots. So, I am going to introduce some of the Osaka trains from next post.

To be continued...

Panoramic view of JR West Osaka Station

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Tokyo Night Walk: Shinjuku Southern Terrace

EMU JR East E351 series, "Super-Azusa" stands at Shinjuku Station
Once again, it is the season of "street illuminations" in Japan. We can see a lot of beautiful decorations on the urban streets, which are nicely illuminated by millions of LED lights. It is not known exactly what the origin of this event was; but I think that it can be traced to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls.

Today, I am going to show you the illuminations on the Southern Terrace near Shinjuku Station first. You can see train passengers passing through the illuminated street, called "Minamillumi" at this time of year. I think that this year's illuminations are simple, but more sophisticated than last year. A glowing clock on the Docomo Tower Building can also be seen behind the illuminated street.

After enjoying the street illuminations, I saw a limited express train, Super-Azusa, the EMU E351 series, standing at Shinjuku Station. This train was launched in 1993 for passing through tight curves at high speed in the mountain ranges on the Chuo Line. Just before entering the tight curves, the train automatically tilts its body to mitigate the centrifugal force. A total of 12 sets (8-car and 4-car trains), 60 units, have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi.

Recently, JR East made a press release announcing that a new express train, the EMU E353 series would be launched on the Chuo Line soon. The E351 series is not going to be operated for very long.

Night view of the Southern Terrace in front of Shinjuku Station

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

White Train on the Seibu Tamagawa Line

EMU Seibu New 101 series arrives at Musashi-Sakai Terminal on the Seibu Tamagawa Line
It is commonly confused by foreigners, but there are two Tamagawa lines in Tokyo. One is the Tokyu Tamagawa Line and the other is Seibu Tamagawa Line. I am going to introduce the Seibu Tamagawa Line today.

The Seibu Tamagawa Line is a short local route in the western part of Tokyo. Connecting Musashi-Sakai on the JR East Chuo Line and Koremasa near Tama River, the operating length is only 8 km. The track is a 1,067mm-size single and electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead, and 4-car trains are operated every 12 minutes.

This route was opened in 1917 to transport gravel from the Tama riverbed to large cities for construction. It is similar with the history of the JR East Nambu Line. The route was, then, changed to a commuter line in 1967.

The rolling stock of the Tamagawa Line is the EMU new 101 series, which was launched in 1979. A total of 4 sets, 16 units, have been operated on the Tamagawa Line since 2010. Different from the other Seibu trains, the body color of the new 101 series on the Tamagawa Line is white. Its specification is rather old as DC motors with a rheostatic control system are still used.

Since the Tamagawa Line is isolated from the other Seibu Railway network, all trains are transported from Musashi-Sakai Terminal to Musashigaoka Rail Yard via JR lines for inspections. We can see a connecting track between Seibu and JR East lines at Musashi-Sakai Terminal for that purpose.

EMU Seibu New 101 series leaves Shiraitodai Station on the Seibu Tamagawa Line