Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go!

EMU JR West 683-4000 series, Thunderbird Express, stands at Osaka Station

You probably remember a British science-fiction TV series, "Thunderbirds", which has been repeatedly broadcasted throughout the world since the middle 1960s. It was produced using marionette puppetry. Thunderbirds are an international rescue team that go to disaster scenes in their high-tech rescue vehicles. My favorite one was Thunderbird 2, which was a VTOL carrier craft. I still remember that I was psyched to build a plastic model of it, when I was a child.

We also have a Thunderbird in Japan, but it is not a rescue vehicle. It is an express train operated between Osaka and the Hokuriku Region. Please look at the picture. It is Thunderbird Express, EMU JR West 683-4000 series, standing at Osaka Station.

The 683-4000 series was launched in 2009 to replace an old express train, the 485 series. A total of 12 sets, 108 units, have been manufactured so far by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. It is an AC-DC dual system train with a maximum speed of 130 km per hour. 255 kW induction motors with an IGBT-VVVF inverter control (variable frequency drive) system are equipped on the train.

To be honest, I prefer the other Thunderbird Express train, the EMU 681 series, to the 683-4000 series, since its sharp features on the front are more handsome than those of the 683-4000 series, but unfortunately, I couldn't shoot the 681 series that day. The first train, "Thunderbird 1", leaves Osaka Station at 7.09 am and heads to Toyama Terminal.

Thunderbirds are go!
Side view of the EMU JR West 683-4000 series

More information about Thunderbird Express, EMU 681 and 683 series (in Japanese):