Monday, 30 May 2016

Preserved Shinkansen Train in NRM-York

Unit 22-141 of the EMU JR West Shinkansen 0 series is exhibited in NRM-York, the U.K.
(Photo: Stuart Marlow)

One of my blog readers kindly sent me his photographs of a Shinkansen train... Unit 22-141 of the EMU JR West 0 series in National Railway Museum-York (NRM-York), the U.K. I am going to show you his beautiful pictures today. Thanks, Stuart-san, for providing me with these precious photos.

Shinkansen is the bullet train that represents Japanese railways. Its total network length is about 3,000km and there are 1 million passengers per day. The first Shinkansen, namely Tokaido Shinkansen, was opened between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in 1964, just before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.

The first model, the EMU 0 series, achieved a maximum speed of 210 kilometers/hour (133MPH). It was the world speed record of commercial trains at that time. Since then, Japanese National Railways and its successors, JR companies, have launched 17 models one after another. The fastest ones are the EMU E5/H5 and the E6 series, which have a maximum speed of 320km/hour (199MPH); but more importantly, there have been no fatal passenger accidents on the Shinkansen so far.

Unit 22-141 was built as a control motor car by Hitachi in 1976. It was the 21st batch of the 0 series. Its vehicle length is 25 m. The gauge size is 1,435 mm. Electric system is 25,000 V and 60 Hz AC overhead. The silver colored shining roof is definitely my favorite. The cob-nosed face is winsome and lovely. I am very happy that the Japanese Shinkansen train is preserved carefully in the birth country of railways.

Interior of Unit 22-141, the EMU JR West Shinkansen 0 series
(Photo: Stuart Marlow)

Official information about Unit 22-141, the EMU JR West Shinkansen 0 series:

Friday, 27 May 2016

Rose Garden on the Sotetsu Line

EMU Sotetsu 10000 series arrives at Futamatagawa Station
It is rose flower season again in Japan. We can see the beautiful blossoms here and there. They are fully bloomed in public parks, private gardens and on exterior walls of houses and office buildings as well.

There are several reputable rose gardens in the Tokyo metropolitan area... Yono Park, Keisei Rose Garden, Kyu-Furukawa Garden and so on. This year, I visited Yokohama English Garden in Kanagawa Prefecture with my family in the peak blooming season. When we visited the garden, I saw many rose lovers, including foreigners, admiring the blossoms. The flowers were red, pink, yellow and white colored... a total of 850 kinds of roses. We enjoyed the colorful blossoms, and smelled the sweet fragrances. My most favorite ones were large white roses with slightly pink colored tinged in the center of the flowers.

To get to this beautiful garden, the nearest station is Hiranuma-bashi on the Main Line of Sagami Railway (Sotetsu). Sotetsu has a Yokohama-based railway line network. Our vehicle was their representative model... the EMU 10000 series. The 10000 series was launched in 2002 to replace old models such as the 2100 and 6000 series. A total of 8 sets (10-car and 8-car trains), 70 units, have been built so far by Tokyu Sharyo and JR East Niitsu factory. To reduce the manufacturing costs, it has a common spec with JR East's EMU E231series.

Yokohama English Garden... it is a gorgeous rose viewing spot on the Sotetsu Line.

Yokohama English Garden near Hiranuma-bashi Station on the Sotetsu Line
Official information about the Sotetsu trains (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Class 166: Rapid DMU to Gatwick Airport

DMU Class 166 (First Great Western) stands at Gatwick Airport Station

Gatwick is known as the second largest international airport in the London area. Although it has only one runway, 281 world cities are networked with this busy airport by flights. To get to Gatwick Airport, trains are the best transportation, since the airport station is directly connected with the airport terminal. From London to Gatwick, an electric train, Gatwick Express, is convenient. It is operated every 15 minutes, and takes only half an hour from the city center.

What else can we see in Gatwick Airport Station? One of the must-see trains is DMU Class 166, operated between Gatwick Airport and Reading by First Great Western. The Class 166 was launched in 1992 by British Rail. So far, a total of 21 sets, 63 units have been built by ABB York Factory. It belongs to so-called Networker trains same as the EMU Class 465 and 466. The maximum speed of the Class 166 is 145 km/hour, which is faster than those DMUs in Japan.

I like the coloring design of the Class 166, specifically its dark green colored side bodies. It is similar with that of the EMU Kintetsu 15400 series, "Kagirohi (shining light)", in Japan, but the body color of the Class 166 is more deep. It is definitely my cup of tea... cool!

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to ride on this beautiful DMU, when I visited London last time. I will take that for pleasures in my future vacation.

Side view of the DMU Class 166

Saturday, 21 May 2016

EMU Keikyu 2103F: TRA Color Train

EMU Keikyu 2103F arrives at Keikyu-Kamata Station

Currently, many foreigners visit Japan for sightseeing, business or studying. According to the Japan National Tourist Organization, the aggregate number of inbound tourists in 2015 totaled 19.4 million, which was a record-breaking increase by as much as 47 % on a year-to-year basis. Taiwanese people are no exception. A total of 3.7 million Taiwanese visited Japan in 2015, and vice versa Japanese also like travelling to Taiwan. A total of 1.6 million Japanese visited there in 2014.

Japanese and Taiwanese railway companies can't keep their arms crossed in this situation. They have a rare opportunity to attract passengers to each other. On February 26th in 2014, Keikyu concluded a Friendship and Cooperation Agreement with Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). In accordance with the agreement, Keikyu launched a special poster train, namely "TRA Color Train", on February 24th this year.

TRA Color Train is an 8-car train, Set 2103F of the EMU 2100 series. It has blue colored bodies with a white stripe, which is similar to that of local trains in Taiwan. Similarly, TRA Color Train has a TRA emblem on both sides of each car and a cowcatcher painted with TRA warning colors (black and yellow stripes) in front of the train. Furthermore, I saw many posters for promoting tourism to Taiwan in the train. They are beautiful nature scenes, gourmet cuisine and cultures. I paid a flying visit to Taiwan several years ago, but wish to stay longer next time.

TRA Color Train is a mini-Taiwan on the Keikyu Line.

TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration) emblem is seen on the side body of 2103F
Official information about the TRA Color train, EMU Keikyu 2100 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Gifu: A Quiet City in Gifu Prefecture

EMU JR Central N700 series passes through Gifu-Hashima Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen
Gifu is the major city in Gifu Prefecture, located about 400 km west of Tokyo. It has been developed as a castle city since the 13th century, and is currently known as the main city of Gifu Prefecture. The population is 406,000. Although Gifu is a large city, my first impression was that it is quiet when I visited there last month. But, why?

It is probably owing to the layout of the railways. Gifu City is isolated from the Shinkansen network. The nearest Shinkansen station is Gifu-Hashima in Hashima City, which is located about 15 km south of the downtown Gifu area. It takes about half an hour from Gifu-Hashima to Gifu Station by local train on the Nagoya Railway (Meitetsu), which is a bit inconvenient. This situation may keep sightseers from Gifu, but in fact, there are many places of interest in this city.

One of the must-see spots in Gifu City is Gifu Castle, which is located in the northernmost part of the downtown area. This castle was originally constructed by Nikaido Yukimasa in 1201, then owned by Oda Nobunaga, a famous feudal load, in the 16th century. The present building was reconstructed in 1956, but still keeps its medieval style. It is also known as a gorgeous city viewing spot among local people, as it was constructed at the summit of Mt. Kinkazan, which is 329 m above sea level.
Gifu is a bit quiet, but an attractive city for connoisseurs of travel.
Night view of Gifu Castle

Sunday, 15 May 2016

EMU 9703F: Sotetsu New Color

EMU Sotetsu 9703F (Yokohama Navy Blue Color) arrives at Futamatagawa Station
Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) has its centenary anniversary in December next year. In commemoration of the anniversary, Sotetsu has recently launched several projects. The main purpose is to enhance Sotetsu's brand power toward the next century.

As a first step, Sotetsu started from changing the train coloring with a new corporate color. On April 10th, Sotetsu launched the first new colored train, Set 9703F of the EMU 9000 series. Set 9703F is a 10-car train, which was built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1995. The original body color was white with red stripes. It was then changed to light gray with blue and orange-colored stripes in 2008. Eventually, it was recently changed to the new Sotetsu's corporate color, Yokohama Navy Blue.

The new coloring design is definitely my favorite; however, it is very difficult to take pictures. The train body mirrors its surrounding scenery, as it is glossy. I came across the same situation on the Hankyu Railway in the past. The common problem is that the dark colored shining bodies are extremely difficult to shoot.

The interior of Set 9703F has also been changed. The special feature is the leather-covered seats. The leather was made in Scotland. Although these leather-covered seats are only applied for the cross seats in car numbers 5 and 8, it gives passengers a feeling of high quality. This new seat is the symbol of Sotetsu's new brand power.

Sotetsu's renovated 9703F... it is luxury, but a bit of an annoying train for rail photo lovers.

Side view of Set 9703F
Official information about the Yokohama Navy Blue Color train (in Japanese):

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Preserved Electric Car in Ibigawa Town

Electric car Meitetsu Mo 514 of the Mo 510 series is preserved at ex-Tanigumi Station

Ibigawa is a small town in Gifu Prefecture, about 420 km west of Tokyo. I recently visited this countryside with my family to see an old electric car, Mo 514, preserved in an abolished station.

Mo 514 of the electric car Mo 510 series was built for Mino Electric Tramway (later Nagoya Railway) by Nippon Sharyo in 1926. Her original name was SemiBo 513. Semi stood for a semi-steel car and Bo was short for a bogie car. Mo 514 had four sisters. Most of the equipment of the Mo 510 series was imported from the U.K. Classic direct control system was adopted as an electric control system of this car. American style five windows on the curved face is definitely my favorite. A large rounded frontal light on the top of the face is also my cup of tea. The scarlet and white colored body is still gorgeous and has not yet faded. It is worthwhile to come from Tokyo to meet with her.

Mo 514 is exhibited in the yard of ex-Tanigumi Station on the ex-Tanigumi Line of Nagoya Railway. The Tanigumi Line was opened in 1926. Connecting Tanigumi and Kurono, its line length was 11.2 km. The gauge size was 1,067mm and the electric system was 600 V DC overhead. After 75 years of its glorious history, the Tanigumi Line was abolished in 2001 due to a decrease of passengers.

Currently, Ibigawa Town Office and the local people take care of Mo 514 and ex-Tanigumi Station meticulously.

Side view of Mo 514

Monday, 9 May 2016

Tobu 8577F: Revival Color Train on the Kameido Line

Set 8577F (revival color) of the EMU Tobu 8000 series travels on the Kameido Line

On March 23rd, Tobu Railway launched its fifth revival color train on the Kameido Line.

The 2-car train, Set 8577F, of the EMU 8000 series has an orange colored body with a yellow stripe, which has now been revived after a half century. Tobu had been using this coloring design since 1958 for their commuter trains, but changed it to the other design in 1964. Set 8577F was built by Aluna Koki in 1982. Currently, it belongs to Kasukabe Depot.

I visited the Kameido Line to ride and shoot this revival color train last week. My favorite shooting spot was a railway crossing located between Kameido and Kameido-suijin stations. I saw many senior rail-fans, who may remember this old coloring design in the 1960s. Being bathed in the afternoon sun, 8857F appeared through the densely-packed residential houses. Cool!

Tobu has recently restored many trains with revival colors. For instance, Set 8111F has a light brown-colored body with an orange stripe, which is a revival of the 1960s. Set 81111F has a cream-colored body, which is a revival of the 1980s. Furthermore, Set 8198F has a dark blue-colored body with a yellow stripe, which is a revival of "Flying Tojo" train operated from 1949 to 1962. Tobu Railway is a paradise for train lovers now.

For your information, the Tobu-Kameido Line is a short local line (3.4 km), connecting Kameido on the JR East Sobu Line and Hikifune on the Tobu-Isesaki Line. The track is electrified and double.

Side view of Set 8577F (revival color) of the EMU Tobu 8000 series

Friday, 6 May 2016

Traditional Craft on the Nagaragawa Railway

Diesel railcar Nagara 500 series arrives at Minami-Kodakara Onsen Station

Mino is a small city in Gifu Prefecture, about 420 km west of Tokyo. The city is famous for being the producer of traditional handmade paper, "Mino-washi", which has a history of about 1,200 years. The oldest record of Mino-washi is seen in a government document in 702. In 1985, Mino-washi was designated a Traditional Craft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry).

Mino-washi is tough, bug-proof, and really versatile. Sometimes it is dyed after the sheets are dry, instead of during the paper-making process. You can see beautiful Mino-washi artworks in the Mino Washi Akari Art Hall in the downtown area.

To visit this art city, please take Nagaragawa Railway and get off at Mino-shi Station. Nagaragawa Railway was partially opened as the Etsumi-nansen (Etsumi South Line) by Japanese Government Railways in 1923. It then fully opened in 1934 between Mino Oota and Hokuno stations (72.1 km). The route was privatized under the name of Nagaragawa Railway in 1986. The track is single and un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

One of the fleets on the route is the 17 m-long diesel railcar, Nagara 500 series, launched in 2007. So far, a total of three units have been built by Niigata Transys. It has a Hitachi 295 ps / 2100 rpm direct blast type diesel engine. A grape colored body with light blue and white stripes is my favorite.

Traditional handmade papers and lovely trains... enjoy your holidays in Mino City!

Mino-washi artworks are exhibited at the Mino Washi Akari Art Hall near Mino-shi Station

Official information about rollingstock of Nagaragawa Railway (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

2016 Sakura Season in the Chichibu Area

EMU Seibu 9000 series travels on the Ikebukuro Line
Even if Someiyoshino (a kind of cherry) blossoms fall, the other kinds of Sakura (cherry) start blooming in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Yaezakura (double cherry) is a famous Sakura blooming after Someiyoshino. As its name suggests, Yaezakura has double petals. Their pink color is darker than those of Someiyoshino.
My favorite spot to view Yaezakura is Mt. Hodo in the Chichibu area, which is located about 90 km northwest of Tokyo. In late April, the foot of the mountain is wrapped by a dark pink color. After the sunset, we can also enjoy yozakura (viewing cherry blossoms at night), as it is beautifully lit up.
To view this gorgeous Yaezakura, please take the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line to Seibu-Chichibu, then transfer to the Chichibu Railway to Nagatoro, the nearest station to Mt. Hodo. One of the major fleet on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line is the EMU 9000 series. It is the final model of the yellow colored train on the line. The 9000 series was launched in 1993 reusing the old equipment of the retired 101 series. So far, a total of 8 sets, 80 carriages have been built by the Seibu Tokorozawa Factory.

Due to reusing of equipment from the old train, the specification of the 9000 series was rather old. Seibu Railway converted the old rheostatic electric control system into the latest VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) system from 2004 to 2007.

Boarding on the yellow colored traditional Seibu train, I could visit the traditional Sakura viewing spot comfortably

Full blooming Yaezakura is lit up at the foot of Mt. Hodo in the Chichibu area