Sunday, 31 May 2015

The 600 Series: Classic Streetcar in Kagoshima City

Electric car, Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau 600 series leaves Tenmonkan-doori Stop

The tram is a symbol of Kagoshima City on Kyushu Island. The Transportation Bureau of Kagoshima City has a total of 13.1 km tram routes in the urban area. Currently, seven models of electric cars are operated on the track.

Among the variety of rolling stocks, the 600 series is my favorite. It is an old streetcar launched in 1958. A total of 16 units have been manufactured by Hitachi, Naniwa Koki and Teikoku Sharyo. Ten units are still operated on the track. Each one is 12.5 m long, and carries 96 passengers. The gauge size is 1,435mm and the electric system is 600V DC overhead.

I like the three frontal windows on the 600 series. These windows offer high visibility to drivers. The large single rounded frontal light on the top of the face is lovely. The side view is also to my taste, as it is like a bus. The coloring design of the bodies is a bit dowdy, but it is nostalgic and unique now.

The specification of the 600 series is rather old. For instance, the nose-suspension drive system is still used. It is out of date, but the running sound with 37.5kW DC motors is nostalgic and comfortable for a rail fan like me. Direct electric control and straight air brake systems are also very old, but this model rides smoothly as air spring bogies are equipped.

The 600 series... it is definitely my cup of tea.

Electric cars, Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau 7000 series (left) and 600 series (right)
More information about the 600 series of Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau (in Japanese):

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Last of Keisei AE100 Series

EMU Keisei AE100 series, "City Liner", passess through Senju-oohashi Station

Keisei is one of the private railway companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The railway network consists of the main line and the other feeder routes, extending to the eastern part of Tokyo and northern Chiba Prefecture. The gauge size is 1,435mm and the electric system is 1,500V direct current overhead.

One of Keisei's roles is airport access transportation from downtown Tokyo to New Tokyo International Airport (Narita). Currently, the third generation Skyliner, the EMU AE series, is commissioned as an airport access train. It is also known as a flagship model of the Keisei rolling stock.

Before the emergence of the present Skyliner, the second generation Skyliner, the EMU AE100 series had been operated between Ueno and Narita Airport. The AE100 series was launched in 1990 to replace an old model, the first generation Skyliner. A total of 7 sets, 56 units, have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo and Tokyo Sharyo. I like the retractable lights on the front of this model. It is still very cool and new.

After retirement from its role as the airport access train, the AE100 series has been surviving as a limited express train called City Liner operated between Ueno and Narita (city). The operation frequency has been decreasing with time. Currently, only one round trip is seen on weekends. Five sets have already been scrapped.

The AE100 series is not going to be operated for very long and will disappear from the track soon. Please ride it now or never!

Closed state of the retractable lights, EMU Keisei AE100 series, "City Liner"

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hamakaiji and Spring Full Bloom on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 185 series, limited express "Hamakaiji", approaches Chino Station on the Chuo Line

Chino is an inland city in Nagano Prefecture, some 200 km west of Tokyo. It is surrounded by mountains and known as the entrance of Tateshina Highland. At the end of April, this small city says goodbye to winter and says hello to spring. The flowers bloom all together, and the forest is filled with a nice fragrance.

I visited this beautiful city with my family last month taking the JR East Chuo Main Line. It took two hours by limited express train, Super-Azusa, from Shinjuku Station in the downtown Tokyo area. After getting off at Chino, we climbed up a small hill overlooking the city. I could see another limited express train, Hamakaiji, running westward on the track.

Hamakaiji debuted in 1996 as a special train operated on weekends. Connecting Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture and Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, its operating length is 232 km. It is very convenient for Yokohama citizens, since they can directly access the Chuo Main Line via the Yokohama Line bypassing Tokyo.

The vehicle for Hamakaiji is a 6-car train, the EMU 185 series. It is a 1,500 V direct current train launched in 1981 by Japanese National Railways. A total of 227 units have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and others. This model is also commissioned for the limited express "Odoriko" and Commuter Liner in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

I enjoyed the beautiful spring and an old train in Chino City.

A full blown cherry tree is seen beside the railway track near Chino Station on the Chuo Line

Monday, 25 May 2015

Stop and Smell the Roses on the Arakawa Line

Electric car Toei 7000 series arrives at Minowabashi Terminal on the Arakawa Line
I can't believe that it is late May already, as I feel as though I just celebrated the New Year a short while ago. It's no use making a fuss! Stop and smell the roses!

It is rose season in Tokyo. We can see the beautiful blossoms here and there. They are fully blown in public parks, private gardens, on exterior walls of private houses and unexpectedly, along the railway tracks. Arakawa Ward of Tokyo Metropolis has been working on planting roses along the track of the Toei Arakawa Line. Nowadays, local volunteer groups such as Arakawa Rose Association also join to maintain the roses along the track.

When I visited the Arakawa Line with my family last week, I saw many rose lovers admiring the blossoms. One of the reputable spots is Minowabashi Terminal. We could see fully blown red, pink, yellow and white colored roses. I think that the dark pink colored ones are named Charles de Gaulle, who was the President of France.

In the meantime, a streetcar in the photo is the Toei 7000 series. It is the Toei's longest-serving active model launched in 1954. A total of 93 units have been manufactured so far by Alna Koki and 19 units are still operated on the Arakawa Line. They have cream colored bodies with green colored stripes in general, but unit number 7001 and 7022 have so-called retro color bodies, which are dark yellow background colored with a red (7001) or a blue (7022) stripe.

Electric car Toei 7000 series leaves Minowabashi Terminal on the Arakawa

More information about streetcars on the Toei Arakawa Line (in Japanese):

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The 10th Anniversary of Tokyo Metro

The 10th anniversary sticker of Tokyo Metro Company
On April 1st, Tokyo Metro, one of the subway operators in Tokyo, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the company. The first subway route in Tokyo was opened between Ueno and Asakusa (2.2km) in 1927 by Tokyo Chika Tetsudo (Tokyo Subway Company). This company was changed to Teito Rapid Transit Authority in 1941 due to wartime regulations. The form of business had been continued until 2004, when Tokyo Metro Company was established. 10 years have passed since then.

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary, Tokyo Metro held a children's pictures contest with a future subway theme. Among a total of 921 submissions, 6 pictures have been selected by specialists. Tokyo Metro, then, created one set of poster train on the Ginza Line using these 6 selected pictures. Recently, these masterpieces are seen on set number 51 of the 1000 series. It is composed of 6 cars, so, each car has one selected picture on the side body. The 10th anniversary memorial sticker is also seen on the front of the train body.

In the meantime, Tokyo Metro recently released a new TV commercial series, called "Find My Tokyo" using popular actress, Maki Horikita.
You can see famous historical spots in the Ueno area on the Ginza Line in the movie. They are Japan's first zoo (opened in 1882), Japan's first national museum (opened in 1872) and Japan's first public park (opened in 1873). See it.
Poster train, set number 51 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series, stands at Shibuya Station

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Symbols in the Southern City

Electric car 7000 series arrives at Kagoshima-chuo-ekimae Stop on the Route 2

Kagoshima is the main city in Kagoshima Prefecture, some 1,400km west of Tokyo. The population now stands at 0.61 million, which makes it the fourth largest city on Kyushu Island. There are several symbols in this southern city, but I am going to show you two of them today.

The first symbol is an active volcano, Sakurajima (Cherry Island). It is an island in Kinko Bay in front of the downtown Kagoshima area. It takes only 15 minutes by ferry boat. This volcanic island is emitting a great deal of smoke. Specifically, in 1914, a large eruption occurred and the island was connected to Oosumi peninsula, which is located on the other side of the downtown Kagoshima area. The peak of Sakurajima is Kitadake, 1,117 meters above sea level.

The second symbol is Kagoshima City Tram in the downtown area. Two routes are operated by Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau. Its total operating length is 13.1km. The track gauge is 1,435mm and the electric system is 600V DC overhead.

One of the features of the city tram is its turf track. This green colored track covers about 70 % of the total route to prevent urban heat island. I am ambivalent about the turf track, but at least it is very beautiful. A yellow colored articulated electric car, the 7000 series, leaves glowing with the turf track. To maintain this beautiful track, Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau has developed a special lawn-mowing train.

Kagoshima is indeed a fascinating southern city.

Active volcano, Sakurajima in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture
More information about the electric car 7000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

East i: JR East's High Speed Inspector

JR East's high speed inspection train, EMU E926 series "East i", arrives at Tokyo Station

I am going to show you a very rare train today. It is an electric and track inspection EMU, E926 series called "East i" on the JR East's shinkansen tracks.

The E926 series was launched in 2002 to replace an old inspection train, the 925 series. Only one set, 7 units (including one spare unit), was manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo. The mission of the E926 series is to inspect tracks, signals, telecommunication and electric power systems. The body is designed according to the E3 series.

One of the features of this inspection train is its high speed. The E926 series is able to be operated with a maximum speed of 275 km/hour during the inspection. The data is immediately analyzed and used for the maintenance of tracks.

JR East does not release the timetable of the E926 series, so, it is difficult to see and take pictures of this inspection train. It is said that the operation frequency is once per ten days on average, but it is irregular. In fact, I seldom see the E926 series in Tokyo station yard; even my office is located near the station. It is very lucky if you come across the E926 series during your travels by Shinkansen train.

For your information, JR Central also has an electric and track inspection train called "Dr. Yellow" on the Tokaido Shinkansen. It is also a very rare train. I am going to show it soon.

"East i" logo is seen on the side body of the E926 series

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Winsome Swallow on the Kyushu Shinkansen

EMU JR Kyushu 800 series arrives at Kagoshima-chuo Station on the Kyushu Shinkansen
Tsubame (swallow) is a famous bird in Japan. Farmers have been treasuring it, as a swallow eats pests in rice paddies. We can see many swallow nests in the countryside this season.

Tsubame is also famous as a train. It was launched in 1930 on the Tokaido Main Line by Japanese Government Railway. This super-express train linked Tokyo with Osaka in 8 hours 20 minutes. It was composed of a steam locomotive and seven passenger coaches. In 1960, Tsubame was replaced by the EMU 151 series by Japanese National Railways. The new Tsubame train linked Tokyo with Osaka in 6 hours 30 minutes. After inauguration of the Tokaido Shinkansen, Tsubame moved to the western part of Japan, such as the Sanyo and the Kagoshima Main Line. Various kinds of EMUs, such as the 481 and the 787 series, had been comissioned for Tsubame limited express.

In 2004, Tsubame was moved again to the newly opened Kyushu Shinkansen. Currently, it is operated between Hakata and Kagoshima-chuo using the EMU JR Kyushu 800 series. The 800 series is a 6-car train with a maximum speed of 260 km/hour.

I like the 800 series, since the design is not only cool but also winsome. Specifically, its two frontal lights are lovely. According to JR Kyushu, this model was designed for children, who will take over the future world. It means that the best angle to see this train is looking from the height of 1 meter. That's a good idea! I like it.

Front view of the EMU 800 series, super-express "Tsubame (Swallow)"
More information about the EMU JR Kyushu 800 series on the Kyushu Shinkansen:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Indonesian Railway Update: The Nambo Line

EMU KRL Jabodetabek (ex-JR East) 205 series travels on the Nambo Line near Cibinong Station
Photo: Faris Fadhli (April, 2015)
I am going to show you news from Indonesia today. The Nambo Line was electrified and resumed operation last month. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the latest photo.

The Nambo Line was opened in 2000 as a coal transportation route to a cement factory in the Jakarta metropolitan area. Connecting Citayam on the Bogor Line and Nambo Station, the line length was 13km. It was an un-electrified 1,067 mm-gauge single track. A 2-car diesel rail car was operated for commuter transportation. This train was directly operated onto the Bogor Line to Tanah Abang Terminal located in downtown Jakarta.

When I was stationed in Indonesia from 2007 to 2011, this route was suspended due to a lack of rolling stock, so I often enjoyed walking on the track to see the beautiful suburban scenery. Specifically, the green rice paddies and palm trees were my favorite. The communication with local people was also my little pleasure at that time.

On April 1st, a local train operator, KRL Jabodetabek completed the electrification with 1,500 V DC system and resumed operation on the Nambo Line. The 8-car train, EMU ex-JR East 205 series is one of the main fleets on the line. I wish Jakarta further success in the modernization of its railways.

In the meantime, the photo locality of my previous post (January 31st, 2015) is clear now. It was shot near Parung Panjang Station on the Serpong Line. Faris-san, thank you for the additional information.

Same locality as the above photo (December, 2009)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

EMU 1800 Series: Red Evergreen Train

Set number 1819F of the EMU Tobu 1800 series arrives at Tochigi Station

Tobu is one of the major railway companies in Tokyo. They operate the largest private railway network in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It covers the northern part of Kanto District including Tokyo Metropolis, Saitama, Chiba, Tochigi and Gumma prefectures.

As you may know, Tobu gears up for the promotion of tourism to Nikko, a World Heritage Site, by their luxury flagship train, limited express "Spacia". Along with Spacia, Tobu also have a standard express train, the EMU 1800 series to the Nikko area. It also has a strong appeal to rail fans.

The 1800 series was launched in 1969. A total of 9 sets, 54 units, have been manufactured for 19 years. Most of them have already been scrapped or modified to other models; however, set number 1819F is still operated with its original style. Currently, the 1819F is commissioned as a special train during the holiday season. The operation frequency is only several times per year; therefore, plenty of rail fans flock to stations or tracks to see this rare train, when the 1819F is operated.

The 1800 series is definitely my favorite. It has a bright red colored body with a white colored stripe. The classic frontal design is also attractive. Furthermore, silver colored side window frames are good accents. Although its specification is rather old, the sound of the DC motors is very nostalgic and comfortable.

The EMU 1800 series... it is a "red evergreen train".
EMU Tobu 1800 series stands at Tochigi Station on the Tobu-Nikko Line
More information about rolling stock on the Tobu Railway (in Japanese):

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The 700 Series for the 700th Post

Side view of unit number 723-3013 of the EMU JR West 700 series
Thank you for visiting Tokyo Railway Labyrinth. This is the 700th post in my blog. I hope that people all over the world will continue to enjoy this Japanese railway blog. In commemoration of the "700th" post, I am going to show you a train with the number "700" in the name... the EMU "700" series.

The Shinkansen EMU 700 series belongs to JR Central and West on the Tokaido and the Sanyo Shinkensen. It was launched in 1999 to replace the old rolling stock, such as the 0 and the 300 series. A total of 91 sets, 1,328 units have been manufactured by Nippon Sharyo, Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. Currently, a total of 1,008 units are still being operated.

The 700 series has a complicated "platypus" shape on the front. Thanks to this streamlined design, the maximum speed for the 700 series is 285 km/hour. Brothers of the 700 series are also operated in Japan and Taiwan. For instance, the JR Central, West and Kyushu's latest Shinkansen trains, the EMU N700 series with a maximum speed of 300 km/hour, is an improved rolling stock from the 700 series. Similarly, Taiwan High Speed Rail's 700T series, whose maximum speed is also 300 km/hour, is the other brother of the 700 series.

One more... the other "700" series is here.

EMU JR West 700 seies leaves Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen
More information about the EMU Shinkansen 700 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Lawn Cherry Field on the Chichibu Railway

Set number 6203F of the EMU Chichibu 6000 series approaches Ohanabatake Station
Shibazakura (lawn cherry) season has come in the Tokyo metropolitan area again. Following the year 2012 and 2013, I visited the other reputable lawn cherry field in a suburban area this year. My destination was Hitsujiyama Park in Saitama Prefecture.

Lawn cherry is a cherry-like flowered short grass, which is originally from North America. It blooms in April to May in Japan as a mid-spring flower. Hitsujiyama (sheep mountain) Park is one of the famous lawn cherry fields in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. More than 400,000 lawn cherries are growing on a hill that covers 1.8 hectares. They are pink, white and lilac colored blossoms.

To get to this gorgeous spot, please take the Chichibu Railway, and get off at Ohanabatake Station. On the way to the lawn cherry field, I came across the EMU 6000 series, which had a special plate of the lwan cherry field on the front. The 6000 series is an express train known as an ex-Seibu 101 series. A total of 3 sets, 9 units were moved to the Chichibu Railway in 2006.

In October last year, the body of the set number 6203F of the 6000 series was changed to a russet color. It is the so-called "the revival color", whose coloring design has been restored to the trains from the 1980s. The revial colored train has a strong appeal to rail fans.

I enjoyed both the beautiful lawn cherry field and the nostalgic colored train on the Chichibu Railway.

Lawn chery field in Hitsujiyama Park near Ohanabatake Station on the Chichibu Railway 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Wave of Generation Change: The Ginza Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 01 series stands at Shibuya Station on the Ginza Line

Following the Chuo Main Line, I am going to show you the other "wave of generation change" in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The Ginza Line is the oldest subway route in Japan. It was partially opened between Ueno and Asakusa (2.2km) in 1927. Then, the entire route, between Shibuya and Asakusa (14.3km), was fully opened in 1934 by Tokyo Subway Company (present Tokyo Metro). The track gauge is 1,435mm and the electric system is 600V DC. The electric collecting system is the third rail without pantographs.

Today, the Ginza Line has grown up to become one of Japan's busiest commuter lines. Trains are operated every 2 minutes in the morning rush hour, every 2 minutes 15 seconds in the evening rush hour and every 3 minutes in the daytime. For that purpose, a total of 40 sets, 240 units of trains are required.

Currently, generation change of the trains is rapidly going on. The new model, the EMU 1000 series, has increased in number; while the old model, the 01 series, has been retired from the Ginza Line. The 01 series was launched in 1984. It is a short (16 m long) 6-car train with yellowish-orange colored stripe. Yellowish-orange is the "line color" of the Ginza Line.

The 01 series is not going to be operated for very long, and will disappear from the Ginza Line by the end of March next year. Please ride the 01 series now or never!

New model, the 1000 series (left) and the old model, the 01 series on the Ginza Line

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Going into the Homestretch: The E351 Series

EMU JR East E351 series, "Super-Azusa" arrives at Chino Station on the Chuo Main Line
A wave of generation change is going on in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Following the old local trains, the present express trains will also soon be replaced by a new model on the Chuo Main Line.

The Chuo Main Line connects Tokyo and Nagoya (424.6 km) penetrating Japan's backbone mountains. The whole route is electrified with a 1,500 V DC system. The track is 1,067 mm gauge double-double or double in urban areas; while single track still exists in the countryside.

The EMU E351 series, limited express "Super-Azusa", is the representative train on the eastern half of the Chuo Main Line. It was specially-developed in 1993 for passing through tight curves in mountain ranges at a high speed. Just before entering the tight curves, the train automatically tilts its body to mitigate the centrifugal force. So, it's called a "pendulum train" with a computer-controlled tilting mechanism. Thanks to this device, the 351 series has greatly reduced the travel time on the line.

On February 24th in 2014, JR East made a press release announcing that a new express train, the EMU E353 series, would be launched on the Chuo Main Line as early as the summer of this year. New technology, namely an air suspension type tilting system, is applied for this new model instead of a pendulum type tilting system on the E351 series.

The E351 series is going into the homestretch. It is not going to be operated for very long, and will soon disappear from the Chuo Main Line.
EMU JR East E351 series, "Super-Azusa" stands at Shinjuku Station on the Chuo Main Line