Thursday, 25 August 2016

Rush Hours in Kurobe Gorge

A sightseeing train, pulled by the ELs Class EDR, arrives at Keyakidaira Station

Kurobe Kyokoku Railway (Kurobe Gorge Railway) is only operated from April to November. It is suspended from December to March due to heavy snowfall. In other words, summer is when the railway company makes a profit. In fact, a lot of tourists flock to the gorge in the summer vacation season. You can see rush hours at Keyakidaira Station the same as the urban stations in Tokyo, as all the tourists go back home or to their hotels before sunset. The tiny and lovely passenger coaches are fully booked in the late afternoon.

The railway employees are very busy. For instance, they have to shunt the electric locomotives one after another at the terminal stations. They work very hard, but everyone looks happy. They have pride in their job. Rail-fans are also happy just watching their brisk work.

In the meantime, Kurobe Kyokoku Railway has 29 units of locomotives. The allocations of electric locomotives (ELs) and diesel locomotives (DLs) are 27 units and 2 units, respectively. All passenger trains are pulled by ELs. They are mainly Classes EDR, EDM, EHM and EDV.

Class EDR is the standard EL, which was launched in 1994. The total length is only 6.9 m. It has four 42 kW traction motors with rheostatic electric control system. The axis arrangement is Bo-Bo in UIC notation. A total of 12 units have been built by Hitachi. The two round front lights stand out, as the body size of the locomotive is very small.

The EL Class EDM at Unazuki station yard

Official information about the rolling stock of Kurobe Kyokoku Railway (in Japanese):