Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Scenery on the Yokosuka Line

EMU JR East E217 series stands at Kurihama Terminal on the Yokosuka Line

The Japan Meteorological Agency made a press release announcing that this year's rainy season ended on July 19th in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which means that midsummer has begun. This week's high was 35.8 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. So, the only thing we can do is escape the city at the weekend and go to a beach!

Miura Peninsula is a famous ocean resort in the southern suburb of Tokyo. By taking just an ordinary commuter train, we can reach a beautiful beach for swimming easily from downtown Tokyo. One of my favorite spots is Arasaki in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Arasaki is a headland on the west coast of the peninsula, about 70 kilometers south west of Tokyo. You can see steeply dipping sandstone, siltstone and tuff beds, which were deposited in the deep sea about 4 to 12 million years ago. The coast provides visitors with good places for enjoying themselves at the rocky shores.

To visit this beautiful spot, please take the JR East Yokosuka Line and get off at Kurihama Terminal. It takes about 80 minutes from Tokyo Station by the E217 series train. The E217 series was launched in 1994 to replace the old EMU 113 series. It is a typical commuter train with eight doors per unit. It is equipped with long seats, but cross seats are also allocated for long distance passengers in several cars. Most trains are directly operated into the Sobu Line via Tokyo Station.

Taking the Yokosuka Line, please enjoy the midsummer scenery.

 
Summer scenery of Arasaki in Yokosuka City near Kurihama Station on the JR East Yokosuka Line 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The 90th Anniversary of Dragon Rail

Diesel Railcar JR East KiHa100-0 series arrives at Rikuchu-Kanzaki Station on the Oofunato Line

On July 26th, JR East celebrated the 90th anniversary of its Oofunato Line in Tohoku District, some 450 km north of Tokyo. The Oofunato Line was partially opened between Ichinoseki and Surisawa (30.6km) on July 26th in 1925. The route then fully opened to Sakari (105.7km) in 1935. The track is single and un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. Its nickname is Dragon Rail, as the route is devious like a dragon body.

The main fleet of Dragon Rail is 16.5 meter-long diesel railcar, KiHa 100-0 series, which was launched in 1990. A total of 46 units have been built over three years by Niigata Tekko and Fuji Heavy industries. They are operated as a 2-car or a 3-car train every two hours on average. The train runs without conductors on board, which means that the driver operates the train doors.

Dragon Rail has had many hardships over the past 90 years. Specifically, it was paralyzed by the 3.11 tsunami disaster following the giant earthquake in 2011. The section between Kesennuma and Sakari (43.7 km) is still closed. Instead of the train, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was operated on the destroyed railway track after the temporary repair. The new railway track is planned to be constructed on the hill to avoid any danger from a future tsunami, but the estimated cost is very high.

I hope that the injured dragon will make a strong comeback soon. Nevertheless, congratulations on the 90th anniversary of Dragon Rail!

 
Diesel Railcar JR East KiHa100-0 series arrives at Geibikei Station on the Oofunato Line
 
Official information about the diesel railcar, KiHa 100 series (in Japanese):

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shimakaze: Kintetsu's New Flagship Train

EMU Kintetsu 50000 series, "Shimakaze", stands at Iseshi Station
 
Kintetsu is one of the major private railway companies. It has a 437-km-long track, which is the largest private railway network in Japan. The route extends to 5 prefectures in the western part of Japan. The whole route is a single or double track with 1,500 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,435 or 1,067 mm.

One of the features of this railway is its extensive intercity express network. For instance, they operate Meihan Express between Osaka and Nagoya cities using luxury trains, because Kintetsu faces fierce competition from JR Central's Tokaido Shinkansen. Moreover, Kintetsu currently gears up a sightseeing train to the Shima area, a reputable marine resort in Mie Prefecture.

The name of the sightseeing train is Shimakaze (Breeze in the Shima area). Shimakaze, EMU 50000 series, was launched in 2013. A total of 3 sets, 18 units, have been built by Kinki Sharyo. The concept of this train is "to be superior to the simple transportation means". In fact, this train provides passengers with superior facilities. Its premium seats are similar to those of first class airline seats. A double-decker car with a scenic cafe is coupled in the middle of the train. It is also equipped with a gorgeous compartment car. The outer design is very fresh, but not my cup of tea, as it looks like Crustacean. Its almond-shaped eyes (frontal lights) are a bit scary for me.

Shimakaze... it is the Kintetsu's new flagship train with a bit of a scary face.

 
Double-decker car, Sa50403 of the Kintetsu 50000 series
 
Officilal information about Shimakaze train (in English):
Official information about Shimakaze train (in Japanese):

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Restoration of the Senseki Line

EMU JR East 205-3100 series arrives at Sendai Station (underground platform) on the Senseki Line

I have received a question from one of my blog readers, asking why JR East operates not electric cars but diesel vehicles on the Senseki-Tohoku Line. That is a good question. Since both the Senseki and the Tohoku sections of the Senseki-Tohoku Line are electrified, it is natural to think that electric cars should be used for this route.

In answer to the question...

Firstly, the electric system is different in each section. The Senseki section has a 1,500 V direct current (DC) system, whereas the Tohoku section has a 20,000 V and 50 Hz alternate current (AC) system. It costs much to make DC-AC dual system trains for the Senseki-Tohoku Line. Secondly, construction of an un-electrified track is cheaper than that of an electrified track as the connecting line between the Senseki and Tohoku sections. As a result, the (hybrid) diesel vehicle is adopted as the Senseki-Tohoku Line train.

Now, the passengers traveling in the Sendai-Ishinomaki area can choose one of two routes, namely, via the Senseki-Tohoku Line or via the Senseki Line. The train via the Senseki-Tohoku Line is suitable for flying passengers, who travel between two major cities (Sendai and Ishinomaki) directly, as it is fast. On the other hand, the train via the Senseki Line is convenient for passengers who get on/off at way stations, as it is operated frequently.

The EMU 205-3100 series is operated on the Senseki Line. It is a 4-car train (2M2T) with snow-resistant brakes and cold-resistant door systems.
 
Train for Ishinomaki has been resumed operation on the Senseki Line

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Keikyu Wing: Relaxing Train to the Yoko-Yoko Area

EMU Keikyu 2100 series, "Keikyu Wing", arrives at Kami-Ooka Station

Keikyu Wing is a similar train with Tobu TJ Liner. The concept of this train is "guarantee of seats for long distance commuters". Japanese businessmen and businesswomen in the cities are very busy. They sometimes need something as a treat for themselves, but their journeys home are hard, because urban commuter trains are packed on most of the lines. There is a greater need from long distance commuters for reserved seats. Keikyu Wing with reserved seats provides comfortable traveling by charging a small additional fee.

Keikyu Wing is operated every 20 minutes in the evening as a southbound train. Connecting Shinagawa, a subcenter of Tokyo, and Misakiguchi in Kanagawa Prefecture, its operating length is 65.7 km. Anyone, who pays an additional 200 yen, can enjoy comfortable traveling. It is specifically convenient for commuters who live in the Yoko-Yoko (Yokohama-Yokosuka) area.

The vehicle for Keikyu Wing is an 8-car train, the EMU 2100 series, which debuted in 2008. A total of 6 sets, 60 units, have been manufactured so far by Hitachi. One of the features of this train is its comfortable cross seats with 2+2 configuration. Riding on Keikyu Wing, passengers are just relaxed and enjoy reading or listening to music, while having a soft drink.Taking the Keikyu Wing on the way home...it's a "petit-zeitaku" (small luxury and gratification) for urban commuters. You did a good job today. Have a good sleep at home tonight.

 
Interior of the EMU Keikyu 2100 series, "Keikyu Wing"
 
More information about Keikyu Wing Train (in Japanese):

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Subway Trains on the Denentoshi Line

Tokyo Metro 08 series arrives at Miyamaedaira Station on the Tokyu-Denentoshi Line

Direct train operation between multiple railways is a convenient transportation system. A good example is seen in the southwestern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area, where three companies form an extensive railway network. They are Tokyu, Tobu and Tokyo Metro. As a result of establishing this network, we can see various kinds of trains on these lines. Specifically, taking subway train pictures on the surface tracks during the daytime is a great amusement for rail fans. I am going to show you two examples today.

The top photo is the EMU Tokyo Metro 08 series traveling near Miyamaedaira Station on the Tokyu Denentoshi Line. The 08 series was launched in 2003 in preparation for direct operation between Tokyo Metro Hanzomon and the Tobu Isesaki lines. A total of 6 sets, 60 units, have been manufactured by Nippon Sharyo. The octagonal black face with a purple stripe is a good accent of this train. For your information, purple is the line color of the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line.

The following photo is the EMU Tokyo Metro 8000 series shot at Aobadai Station on the Tokyu Denentoshi Line. The 8000 series was launched in 1981. A total of 19 sets, 190 units, have been manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Knki Sharyo over 14 years. Its design was inherited from the 6000 series on the Chiyoda Line.

Direct train operation network... it is a "train museum" for rail fans in the Tokyo metropolitan area.


EMU Tokyo Metro 8000 series arrives at Aobadai Station on the Tokyu-Denentoshi Line

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rapid Train to Samurai Street

DMU JR Kyushu KiHa 200 series, rapid train "Nanohana" stands at Kagoshima-chuo Station
 
Chiran is a small town in Minamikyushu City on Kyushu Island. It has grown as one of the samurai towns of Satsuma Domain since the early 18th century. The samurai residential area is still preserved as it was at that time. We can see the historical samurai houses and gardens here and there backed by beautiful Mt. Hahagatake. Different from the other preserved ex-samurai residential areas, such as Obi Town and Sakura City, Chiran was not a castle town. In other words, the samurai streets were the administration center in the region.

To get to this historical town, I took a bus from Makurazaki Station on the JR Kyushu Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. Connecting Kagoshima-chuo on the Kyushu Shinkansen and Makurazaki Terminal, the total operating length of the Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line is 87.8 km. The whole route is a non-electrified single track. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The DMU KiHa 200 series is a representative train on the line.

The KiHa 200 series was launched by JR Kyushu in 1991 to replace the old models, KiHa 66 and 67 series. A total of 47 cars have been built by Niigata Tekko, Nippon Sharyo and JR Kyushu Kokura Factory. Yellow colored ones, namely "Nanohana (canola flower)", are commissioned as rapid trains on the Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. It was a 6-car (2+2+2) train, when I rode.

For your information, JR East also has "Nanohana" train (the 485 series), but it is an EMU and different from that of JR Kyushu.
 
Chiran Samurai Street

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Indonesian Railway Update: Freight Train Renaissance

"Aqua" train pulled by a DL, PT. KAI Class CC206, passes through Lenteng Agung Station
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)
 
Indonesia has been enjoying continued economic growth with an annual rate of 5% for nearly 10 years. Turning to the infrastructure of the country, however, the construction of public roads can't keep up with the sudden increase of motorcars. The domestic freight transportation, which relies on truck transportation, has reached its full capacity. Is there anything that can be done about it?

There is a solution. Use railways! In recent years, PT. KAI (Indonesian National Railways) has resumed rail freight transportation in the Jakarta metropolitan area. They introduced a new model of diesel locomotive (DL), Class CC206, in 2013, and started cement and mineral water transportation one and two years later, respectively. The CC206 is a 1,067 mm-gauge size DL with a diesel-electric transmission system. The axis arrangement is Co-Co (UIC notation). A total of 100 units have been built so far by GE Transportation.

Firstly, the cement freight train started operation in 2013 between Nambo on the Nambo Line and Kalimas in Surabaya, which is the second largest city in Indonesia. Currently, there are four cement rail freight routes on Java Island. The mineral water freight train subsequently started operation last year between Cicurug on the Sukabumi Line and Kampung Bandan in downtown Jakarta. The owner of the freight is PT. Aqua, which is the largest bottled mineral water vendor in Indonesia.

Faris Fadhli, an active Indonesian rail fan, kindly sent me the beautiful photos with a report. Faris-san, thank you very much.

Cement train pulled by a DL, PT. KAI Class 206, travels between Pondok Rajeg and Citayam
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Inokashira Hydrangea Route: Meidaimae

Set 1729F of the EMU Keio 1000 series leaves Meidaimae Station on the Inokashira Line
 
I came back to my favorite spot for the first time in three years. Full blown hydrangeas are seen on embankments of the railway track near Meidaimae Station on the Keio-Inokashira Line. They are blue, pink and white colored large flowers. As you may know, Keio has been working on planting hydrangeas on the embankments of the railways to prevent slope failure and protect the environment since 1991.

To take photographs of these beautiful flowers, the best shooting position is an elevated platform number 1 at Meidaimae Station on the Keio Main Line. We can look down on the hydrangea flowers on the Inokashira Line tracks from a window beside the platform. The problem for shooting photos is the metal safety net on the window, since this obstacle is also caught by the camera.

For a long time I researched the problem, and I found that (1) cloudy weather is preferable to prevent an irregular reflection caused by the metal net, (2) a small diameter lens is better as photographic equipment, (3) the lens hood should be removed from the lens. As a result, I began to shoot beautiful photos in 2012.

Unlike the previous photo in 2012, I moved the shooting position a little bit this year and took the hydrangeas with the Inokashira Line train. This year, I could shoot set number 1729F of the EMU 1000 series. This special train has a round shaped plate to encourage passengers to see hydrangeas on the Inokashira Line.
 
Set 1724F of the EMU Keio 1000 series leaves Meidaimae Station on the Inokashira Line

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Iris Garden in Yokosuka City

Set 1017F (Alminum body) of the EMU Keikyu 1000 series arrives at Shioiri Station

Yokosuka is known as the city of a naval port in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force have bases in the port area. The American style "Navy Burger", which is served in some restaurants around the bases, is one of my favorites in this city.

Turning to the inland area of Yokosuka, there are Japanese style traditional spots in contrast. For instance, Yokosuka Iris Garden is definitely my favorite. From early June to mid-July, purple, blue and white colored iris flowers are seen here and there in the large garden. Irises are typical blossoms of the rainy season. They attract many gardeners and flower lovers.

To visit this beautiful traditional garden, please get off at Shioiri Station on the Keikyu Main Line. It takes about 45 minutes by limited express train from Shinagawa in downtown Tokyo. You can then use the direct bus services from Shioiri Station to the garden during the peak season of Iris flowers.

On the way to the iris garden, I saw set number 17 of the EMU 1000 series (1st batch) at Shioiri Station. It had a red colored aluminum body with a white stripe on the center of its side. I prefer this red colored aluminum body to the bare stainless bodies, which were adopted from the 6th batch of the 1000 series.

As the colors of flowers attract flower lovers, the colors of trains attract rail fans.

 
Yokosuka Iris Garden near Shioiri Station on the Keikyu Main Line

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

EMU N700-R and S Series on the Kyushu Shinkansen

Set number S5 of the EMU JR West N700-S series stands at Kagoshima-chuo Station
 
Along with the EMU 800 series, another model is operated on the Kyushu Shinkansen. It is the EMU N700-R and S series jointly developed by JR Kyushu and JR West. The N700-R (JR Kyushu) and S (JR West) were launched in 2008, when the entire rooute of the Kyushu Shinkansen was inaugurated. A total of 30 sets, 240 units have been built so far by Hitachi, Nippon Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo.

As you know, the N700 series is operated by JR Central and JR West on the Tokaido Shinkansen as well. What is the difference of the N700 series between the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen? The main difference is their length. The N700 series for the Tokaido Shinkansen (N700-Z, N, X, K, G and F) is a 16-car train with a total of 400 meters, meanwhile the same model for the Kyushu Shinkansen (N700-R and S) is an 8-car train with a total of 200 meters.


The outer design is mostly the same, but the body color is slightly different. The N700 series for the Tokaido Shinkansen is white colored, meanwhile the same model for the Kyushu Shinkansen is celadon-porcelain colored. The cross seats of the standard class (reserved seats) train for the Kyushu Shinkansen are spacious with a 2+2 configuration, meanwhile the same class seats for the Tokaido Shinkansen are a 3+2 configuration.

For your information, the maximum speed of the N700 series for the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Kyushu Shinkansen is the same... 300 km per hour. It is the second fastest train in Japan.

The N700-R and S, they are operated as "Mizuho (rice-plants)" and "Sakura (cherry)" super-express trains on the Kyushu Shinkansen.

 
Side view of the EMU JR West N700-S series for the Kyushu and Sanyo Shinkansen
 
More information about the EMU N700-S and R series (in English):
More information about the EMU N700-S and R series (in Japanese):

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Nambu Branch Line: Urban Local Route, Part 3

EMU JR East 205-1000 series travels on the Nambu Branch Line
 
Following the Tsurumi Line and the Daishi Line, let me explain about the other urban local route in the Tokyo metropolitan area... the JR East Nambu Branch Line in Kawasaki City, some 20 km southwest of Tokyo.

The Nambu Branch Line was inaugurated in 1930 by Nambu Railway Company. Its highlighted mission was freight transportation, but the passenger trains also started operation in the same year. Currently, it is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). Connecting Shitte on the Nambu Main Line and Hamakawasaki, there are only four stations over the 4.0-km single track route. The track gauge is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

A two-car train, the EMU 205-1000 series, is operated every 40 minutes on average during the daytime, and every 15 minutes during rush hour. All trains are run with a driver and no conductors. Passengers are mostly commuters and high school students. The 205-1000 series was moved from the Yamanote and the Chuo-Sobu Local lines in 2002 after modifications. The yellow and green-colored double stripe on the bodies is a good mark as the Nambu Branch Line train.

When I visited the Nambu Branch Line on a weekend last month, I saw that several families with cameras were on board. They must be rail-fan families. In fact, visiting this route is a good opportunity to get a feel for a local railway line, even in an urban area. Let's take it easy at the weekends on the Nambu Branch Line.

 
EMU JR East 205-1000 series arrives at Kawasaki-shinmachi Station on the Nambu Branch Line

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Daishi Line: Urban Local Route, Part 2

EMU Keikyu 1500 series arrives at Kawasaki-Daishi Station on the Daishi Line
 
Keikyu is a private railway company in the southern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. To compete with next-door giant (JR East), Keikyu is putting in a lot of effort. Firstly, the maximum speed of the Keikyu train (120km per hour) is faster than that of JR East. Secondly, Keikyu operates a luxury train, the EMU 2100 series, "Kaitoku", without additional fares on the main line.

Turning to Keikyu's local line, circumstances alter cases. For instance, let's visit the Daishi Line. You will see a local train running leisurely. The maximum speed is only 60 km per hour. Connecting Keikyu-Kawasaki on the Keikyu Main Line and Kojima-shinden, the operating length of the Daishi Line is only 4.5 km. The track is double and the gauge size is 1,435 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

A 4-car train, the EMU 1500 series, is operated on the line. The 1500 series was launched in 1985 to replace the old 1000 series. I like this angular and red colored steel body with its white stripe. The specification is a little old, as DC motors with a field chopper control system are still used on the train.

The major sightseeing spot on the Daishi Line is Kawasaki Daishi (Heigenji), a large Buddhist temple located near Kawasaki-Daishi station. This old temple was established in 1182 by Hirama Kanenori. The precinct is always crowded with local people and tourists. Please don't forget to taste "Kuzumochi", a cake made of arrowroot starch sold in front of the temple's gate.

 
Kawasaki Daishi (Heigenji Temple) near Kawasaki-Daishi Station on the Keikyu-Daishi Line
 
More information about the EMUs on the Keikyu Line (in Japanese):