Saturday, September 5, 2015

Count Down to the Last Run: The 381 Stork

EMU JR West 381 series, limited express "Kounotori (stork)" stands at Osaka Station.

On August 21st, JR West made a press release announcing that the EMU 381 series will be retired from Kansai District (Osaka Prefecture and its surrounding area) on October 30th.

The 381 series is known as Japan's first tilting train launched in 1973 by Japanese National Railways (JNR). The tilting train was specially-developed for passing through tight curves in mountain ranges at a high speed. On the tight curves, the tilting train tilts its body to mitigate the centrifugal force. Thanks to this device, the 381 series has greatly reduced its travel time on many routes. Even after the abolition of JNR in 1983, it has been commissioned as limited express trains, such as Kounotori (stork) in Kansai District for a long time. Among a great variety of the 381 series, I like the classic ones with so-called JNR color the best.

By the way, some passengers felt disappointed about the ride quality of the 381 series, since they turned green when the train passed through the curves. After an investigation by railway engineers, it became clear that the delay of tilting timing caused this bad ride quality. So, the different tilting devices had been adopted for the subsequent models, such as the E351 and the N700 series.

The new model, the EMU 289 series, is scheduled to replace the 381 series on October 31st. The 381 series will be only operated in Chugoku District, as a limited express train, "Yakumo".

Patna rhei (Everything is constantly changing).

 
KuHa 381-1 (1st batch of the 381 series) is exhibited in SCMaglev and Railway Park.
 
Official information about the EMU 381 series, limited express "Kounotori" (in Japanese):