Thursday, 19 October 2017

The 50th Anniversary of the Keio-Takao Line

Passing through Takao Daini Tunnel, the EMU Keio 9000 series arrives at Takao-sanguchi Station

On October 1st, Keio Electric Railway Company celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Takao Line. It was opened on October 1st in 1967 between Kitano and Takao-sanguchi. The Keio-Takao Line is a branch route of the Keio Main Line. The route length is 8.6 km. The track is double, but partly single. The gauge size is 1,372 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The section between Kitano and Yamada is the revival route of the ex-Keio-Goryo Line, which was abolished in 1945 due to the chaos of WWII.

The Keio-Takao Line has two faces, one as a city line for urban commuters, and one as a local line for hikers. There are many new residential areas on the eastern section between Kitano and Takao; while there is a natural forest on the western section between Takao and Takao-sanguchi, which is the gateway station to Mt. Takao. As I posted before, Mt. Takao is a popular sightseeing spot in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Recently, not only Japanese, but also foreign hikers flock to this suburban mountain.

I like the Keio-Takao Line, specifically its western section. After leaving Takao, a west bound train enters into the darkness of the Takao Daiichi Tunnel. After passing through it, a fine view of the forest area bursts into the passengers' sight. The train then passes through another tunnel named Takao-Daini Tunnel and arrives at Takao-sanguchi Terminal. This kaleidoscopic change is my favorite.

Toward the next half century, the Keio-Takao Line is going to go on.

Leaving Takao-sanguchi Station, the EMU Keio 8000 series enters into Takao Daini Tunnel

Monday, 16 October 2017

2017 Urban Greening Fair in Hachiouji

EMU JR East E233-6000 series arrives at Hachiouji-Minamino Station

It is mid-October already. A year passes quickly. Taking the pictures of the "New Year Express" on the Keio Line seems like only yesterday. Now, it is a nice time for strolling, neither too hot nor too cold.

My recent destination was Hachiouji in the western part of the Tokyo Metropolis. Currently, the 2017 Urban Greening Fair is being held there. What is the Urban Greening Fair? It is an annual event held by the Organization for Landscape and Urban Green Infrastructure to promote greening in the urban areas. Hachiouji City hosts the event this year, because Hachiouji is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its municipality. I saw whole new flower beds here and there in the city. Many events, for example an exhibition of home garden samples, were also held in the main venue.

To visit Hachiouji, I took the JR East Yokohama Line. The Yokohama Line is one of the main transportation arteries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Higashi-Kanagawa and Hachiouji, the route length is 42.6km. The track is double and electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overheard. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. 

Currently, all the commuter trains on the Yokohama Line are operated with green colored 8-car trains of the EMU E233-6000 series. All the previous trains, namely the EMU 205 series, were moved to Jakarta, Indonesia in 2014. Three years later, the green colored E233-6000 series has already blended with the cityscape of Hachioji.

Trains in Hachiouji are also greened.

Katakura-tsudoinomori Park near Hachiouji-Minamino Station on the JR East Yokohama Line

Friday, 13 October 2017

Standard Commuter Train on Kyushu Island

EMU JR Kyushu 811 series stands at Mojiko station yard

JR Kyushu is the largest railway company on Kyushu Island. It was established in 1987 following the breakup and privatization of Japanese National Railways. When JR Kyushu was launched, many economic analysts pointed out that this company would soon face severe managing conditions, since its railway network was located in underpopulated areas with low transport density. 29 years later, however, the performance of JR Kyushu was much better than what the economic analysts had predicted. As a result, JR Kyushu was listed in the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on October 16, 2016.

The EMU 811 series is the first commuter train developed by JR Kyushu. It is a 4-car train for 20 kV and 60 Hz alternate current tracks. A total of 28 sets, 112 units, were built by Kinki Sharyo, Hitachi and JR Kyushu Kokura Factory from 1989 to 1993. The 811 series has a thyristor phase electric control system with direct current motors. It was a rather old system, so that some of the 811 series were recently renovated with VVVF inverter (variable-frequency drive) electric control systems.

The EMU 811 series has become a driving force of JR Kyushu's company growth. Replacing the old 415 series, it has been playing the leading role of urban transportation in Fukuoka and Kita-Kyushu cities. Although new commuter trains, such as the EMU 813 and 817 series, have appeared one after another, the 811 series still keeps the main position of the JR Kyushu's standard commuter trains.

EMU JR Kyushu 813 series (left, red colored) and the 811 series

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Sayonara to the Old Streetcars

Electric car, unit number 7022 of the Toei 7000 series arrives at Shin-Koshinzuka Stop

One of the representative streetcars has disappeared from the Tokyo Metropolis. On June 11th this year, the final streetcar of the Toei (the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo metropolitan Government) 7000 series finished its operation and retired from the track.

The 7000 series was Toei's longest-serving model launched in 1954. A total of 93 units were built by Alna Koki. The 7000 series was a 600V DC streetcar on the 1,372 mm gauge track of the Toei-Arakawa Line. The control system was a classic rheostatic, and the drive system was the classic nose suspended drive. I often visited the Arakawa Line and enjoyed the nostalgic beating sound generated from the nose suspended drive.

What has been the fate of the 7000 series? Most of them have already been scrapped or preserved in public parks, such as unit numbers 7001 and 7022. The good news is that eight units of the 7000 series have been renovated and come back to the track in the new name of the 7700 series, including unit numbers 7018, 7024 and 7026. Their doors have been widened to make it easier for passengers to get on and off, and their traveling system has been totally changed. For instance, the VVVF (variable voltage and variable frequency) inverter has been adopted as an electric control system to save electric power consumption.

Sayonara (good-bye) and arigatou (thank you) to the Toei 7000 series. The 7700 series, welcome to the Arakawa Line.

Electric car, unit number 7005 of the Toei 7000 series arrives at Gakushuin-shita Stop

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Hamamatsu: Rapidly Growing Industrial City

EMU Entetsu 1000 series arrives at Daiichidori Station

Hamamatsu is a major city in Shizuoka Prefecture, located about 260 km west of Tokyo. Currently, it has a population of 0.8 million, which is ranked at sixteenth in Japanese cities. In 1990, the population of Hamamatsu City exceeded that of Shizuoka City, which is the capital of Shizuoka Prefecture, to become the top in the prefecture.

Hamamatsu is known as an industrial city. Especially, production of musical instruments and transportation equipment are famous among Japanese people. Several major companies such as Yamaha and Suzuki have their headquarters in Hamamatsu City.

As a rail-fan, my attention is drawn to a local private railway company, Enshu Railway (Entetstu). Entetsu has a 17.8 km electrified single track, between Shin-Hamamatsu and Nishikashima stations. The gauge size is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 750 V DC overhead. Although Entetsu is a small local railway, the track is elevated to relieve traffic congestion in the city center. The trains are operated every 12 minutes on average during the daytime.

Trains of Entetsu are called "Akaden (red trains)" by local people. It is because all the Entetsu trains have red colored bodies with a white colored stripe. The EMU 1000 series is Entetsu's representative model. The 1000 series was launched in 1983. A total of 7 sets, 14 units have been built by Nippon Sharyo. Different from the old models such as the 30 series, the 1000 series has rectilinear bodies. The body length is 19 meters, which is quite unique in Japan.

Night view of Hamamatsu City

Official information about Enshu Railway: http://www.entetsu.co.jp/tetsudou/english/

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Sayonara to the Northern Kanto Commuter Train

Set R15 + R16 of the EMU JR East 107 series arrives at Kanashima Station

One by one, the old trains have disappeared from the Tokyo metropolitan area. On July 27th this year, JR East Takasaki Branch Office gave a press release announcing that the EMU 107 series would be retired from the track by the end of September.

The EMU JR East 107 series is a direct current standard commuter train in the northern Kanto district. It was launched in 1988 to replace the old model, EMU Japanese National Railways (hereafter JNR) 165 series. A total of 27 sets, 54 units, were built from 1988 to 1991 by JR East Oomiya Factory, Ooi Factory and so on. The structure of the train body was applied from that of the EMU JNR 105 series, so that the 107 series is very similar to the 105 series in appearance.

In recent years, the 107 series has been retired from the track one after another. For instance, it was retired from the Nikko Line in March, 2013, being replaced by the 205-600 series. Eventually, the 107 series finished their regular commercial operation on 30th September.

On October 1st, JR East operated a special train using the 107 series. It was for rail-fans to say sayonara (good-bye) and arigatou (than you) to the 107 series. Although I lost in the draw to join the train tour, I could take pictures of it at Kanashima Station on the Agatsuma Line under the autumn sky of fine weather.

Sayonara and arigatou, the EMU 107 series.

Set R15 + R16 of the EMU JR East 107 series stands at Kanashima Station

Sunday, 1 October 2017

EMU Tokyu 2000 Series: Rare Model on the Tokyu Line

Set 2002 of the EMU Tokyu 2000 series travels on the Denentoshi Line

You may think that all the train models in the Tokyo metropolitan area have already been shown in this blog, as I have already uploaded more than 1,000 posts here. Wait a moment please. There still remains an important model. What is that?

This is the first time to introduce the EMU Tokyu 2000 series to you. The 2000 series is a commuter train model for the Denentoshi Line. The 2000 series train is directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, but not operated onto the Tobu Line. It is different from the other Tokyu models such as the 5000 series and the 8500 series on the Denentoshi Line.

The EMU Tokyu 2000 series looks the same as the 9000 series, which is operated on the Ooimachi Line. In appearance, design of the face and the body the 2000 series is very similar to that of the 9000 series. The difference is only the shape of the air-conditioner covers on the roofs. Please look it up yourself. The other differences are bogies, motors, electric control devices and so on.

As a rail-fan, I like the 2000 series, because it has value as a rarity. Only 3 sets, 30 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo from 1992 to 1993. It will be lucky for you, if you come across the 2000 series, when you take the Denentoshi Line.

The EMU Tokyu 2000 series, is a rare commuter train model on the Denentoshi Line.

Set 2002 of the EMU Tokyu 2000 series leaves Tsukimino Station

Thursday, 28 September 2017

2017 Summer Memories: Enoshima Lanterns

Set  number 1069 of the EMU Odakyu 1000 series passes through Kyodo Station

As I mentioned before, the weather had been unusual this mid-summer in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It was rainy every day, so that I had to find short sunny days for strolling, and visited only the nearby Tokyo Metropolis. Enoshima Island was one such place.

Enoshima Island is a famous sightseeing spot in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is located about 60 km southwest of the city center. When I visited there in the middle of August, the Enoshima Lantern Festival was being held. It was one of the events during the "obon" period. "Obon" is a Buddhist festival to recognize ancestral spirits. The souls of the dead are believed to return to their families during the obon period in the middle of August. It is an occasion for people to visit their ancestors' graves, temples or shrines to pray. 

During evening of the obon period, Enoshima Island was decorated with many lanterns to repose the souls of the dead. For instance, I saw plenty of lanterns on the approach of Enoshima Shrine. It was beautiful and mysterious, and reminded me of my ancestors.

To visit Enoshima Island, Odakyu-Enoshima Line is convenient. The nearest station is Katase-Enoshima, which is the gateway to the island. When I headed to Enoshima, I came across the old EMU 1000 series with rollsigns (destination signs). Trains with rollsigns are currently quite rare on the Odakyu Line, as most of the rollsigns have been replaced by LED-type destination signs.

A visit to Enoshima Island offered rare experiences to me.

Lanterns are seen on the approach of Enoshima Shrine near Katase-Enoshima Station

Monday, 25 September 2017

New Revival Colored Train on the Tobu Line

Revival colored train, set 8575 of the EMU Tobu 8000 series, travels on the Kameido Line

Tobu Railway has launched a new "revival colored train". On July 13th, a new special colored train, set number 8575 (hereafter 8575F) of the EMU 8000 series, appeared on the Kameido Line. 8575F was originally built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1982. It consists of two cars named 8575 (Mc) and 8675 (Tc), but the color design of 8575F was changed on this occasion from white with blue colored stripes (Tobu's standard color design) to yellow with a vermillion colored stripe, which was one of the test paint color designs in the 1950's.

8575F is the third revival colored train for the Kameido and Daishi lines. As I posted before, Tobu had already launched two other revival colored trains. They are set number 8568 (hereafter 8568F) and set number 8577 (hereafter 8577F). 8568F has dark green colored bodies with a white stripe, which was also the test paint color design in the 1950's; meanwhile 8577F has orange colored bodies with a yellow stripe, which was used as the Tobu's standard color design from 1958 to 1964.

Tobu has been launching revival colored trains one after another. I sure would like to applaud this kind of service as a rail-fan, but I am alternating between joy and embarrassment, as I must visit the Tobu Line every time. Probably, that's Tobu's strategy. In fact, many rail-fans like me often flock to the Tobu Line to take pictures and ride the new revival colored trains.

Revival colored train, set 8575 of the EMU Tobu 8000 series, arrives at Omurai Station

Friday, 22 September 2017

Green Frog: The 90th Anniversary of the Toyoko Line

Set 5122 of the EMU Tokyu 5000 series, the revival colored train, "Green Frog"

The Tokyu-Toyoko Line is one of the main transportation arteries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Shibuya and Yokohama, the operating length is 24.2 km. It carries an average of 1.2 million passengers per day. Shibuya is one of the sub-centers in the Tokyo Metropolis; meanwhile, Yokohama is the main city of Kanagawa Prefecture.

On August 28th this year, Tokyu Corporation celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Toyoko Line. It was opened between Shibuya and Maruko-Tamagawa (present Tamagawa) stations on August 28th, 1927. The gauge size is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. Currently, 22 percent of the entire route is a double-double track. The trains on the Toyoko Line are directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro-Fukutoshin Line via Shibuya Station, and the Yokohama Minatomirai Railway via Yokohama Station.

In commemoration of the 90th anniversary, Tokyu launched a special revival colored poster train, "Aogaeru", on September 4th on the Toyoko Line. What is Aogaeru? It was a nickname of the green colored trains, the EMU 5000 series, which were operated on the Toyoko Line from 1954 to 1980. Because of its "face line" with lower parts of the face full-fleshed, they were called Aogaeru (green frog) among rail-fans.

The revival Aogaeru is also named the EMU 5000 series, but it is the 2nd generation one with a modern design. An 8-car train, set number 5122 is used as Aogaeru. The revival Aogaeru will be operated for a year until August, 2018.

Side view of the "Green Frog"

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

2017 Summer Memories: Ocean View and Kurofune Train

Set R-4 of the EMU Izukyu 2100 series, Kurofune Train, travels on the Izukyu Line

The weather has been unusual this summer in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It was very hot in the "rainy season"; meanwhile it was rainy every day in mid-summer. I was very busy at work, but could manage to take a 4-day holiday in the middle of August. I visited Izu Peninsula with my family.

Izu Peninsula is a major resort area in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Being located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Izu is famous for the joys of its ocean view and mountains with hot springs. To get to this resort area, Izukyu Railway is convenient. Connecting Ito and Izukyu-Shimoda, the total operating length is 45.7 kilometers. The entire route is an electrified single track. The trains on the Izukyu Line are directly operated onto the JR East Ito Line to Atami and the Tokaido Main Line to Tokyo.

Kurofune Train is one of the popular trains on the Izukyu Line. It is an 8-car train, set R-4 of the EMU 2100 series built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1990. Kurofune Train was created based on the image of Kurofune, which abruptly visited Japan led by US Commodore Perry in 1853 to demand the Tokugawa Shogunate open the country to the world. Seeing that, the Japanese called them "Kurofune" (black ships). Accepting Perry's request, the Tokugawa Shogunate signed a treaty opening Shimoda Port to U.S. trade in 1854. As you noticed, Shimoda is the terminal of the Izukyu Line.

The black colored Kurofune Train suits the magnificent Pacific Ocean.

Ocean view near Izu-kogen Station on the Izukyu Line

Official information about the trains on the Izukyu Line (in Japanese):

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Good-bye, the EMU Toei 10-000 Series: Part 2

Set 10-270 of the EMU Toei 10-000 series arrives at Sasazuka Station on the Keio Line

Following my last post, I am going to continue to show you the EMU Toei 10-000 series, which will be retired soon.

Set 270 of the EMU Toei (the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) 10-000 series belongs to the 8th batch group of the 10-000 series. Its technical specification is the same as the other 10-000 series trains, but the design of the train bodies is different from that of the other ones. For instance, the 8th batch group has beads on the side of the stainless steel bodies; while the other 10-000 series has corrugations. The 8th batch group has a blue colored thin stripe on the front; while the other 10-000 series trains don't have it. Trainspotters like me perceive and enjoy these kinds of fine differences between the two groups of trains. You may be one of those people.

The 8th batch trains, including set 270, were launched in 1997. A total of 2 sets, 16 units have been built by Alna Kohki. This group of trains is known as the last model built with an armature chopper electric control system in Japan. As you may know, the armature chopper is an excellent electric control system, but it was high cost, and sometimes caused inductive interference, so that the trains with the armature chopper electric control system have been retired gradually.

Sayonara (good-bye) and arigato (thank you), the Toei 10-000 series, Japan's last model built with an armature chopper control system.

Set 10-270 of the EMU Toei 10-000 series stands at Sasazuka Station on the Keio Line

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Good-bye, the EMU Toei 10-000 Series

250F of the Toei 10-000 series arrives at Sakurajosui Station on the Keio Line

One popular group of trains is disappearing from the track in the Tokyo metropolitan area. That will soon become a memory to rail-fans. On August 12th, a 10-car train, set 25 of the EMU Toei (the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) 10-000 series, was retired from the Toei-Shinjuku and the Keio lines. As a result, only two sets of the 10-000 series remain on the track, but they will be also retired soon.

The EMU Toei 10-000 series was launched in 1971 for starting operations of the Toei-Shinjuku Line. So far, a total of 28 sets, 224 units have been built by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo, Kinki-Sharyo and so on. The outer design of the 10-000 series is the so-called "picture frame", which derived from the impression of its train "face".

There are several variations of the 10-000 series. Set 25 has the old design with corrugations on the side bodies and the round-shaped roof top ventilators. Fortunately, I could take pictures of set 25 only two days before its retirement. Much to my joy, special "Final Run" stickers were displayed on their bodies. Thank you for the final present.

After the retirement of set 25, two sets, namely set 27 and 28 are still narrowly operated on the Toei-Shinjuku Line and the Keio Line. I am going to report their last stage of operation in my next post, since those two sets of trains have a different design from that of set 25.

To be continued.

"Final Run" sticker of the EMU Toei 10-000 series 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Preserved Streetcar in the Shitamachi Area

Streetcar number 7506 of the 7500 series is preserved at ex-Ikenohata-shichikencho Stop

Shitamchi is the old town in Tokyo. It was formed during the Edo Period (1603 - 1868) in the downtown area, which was located east of Edo Castle (present Imperial Palace). Generally speaking, the people in the Shitamachi area are folksier than those of the other areas in Tokyo, and cherish their own tradition. Shitamachi was a town of the merchants. You can glimpse how the people in Shitamashi used to live, if you visit Shitamachi Museum near Nippori Station on the JR lines. This museum used to be a liquor shop until the Taisho Period (1912 - 1926).

For rail-fans, one of the must-see spots in the Shitamachi area is the ex-Ikenohata-shichikencho Stop, where an old streetcar, number 7506 of the Toei 7500 series is preserved. The 7500 series was launched in 1962 to replace the decrepit 8000 series. A total of 20 units had been manufactured by Nippon Sharyo and Niigata Tekko. It originally had a rounded body and a bow electric collector on the roof. The 7506 was, then, renovated into the more square-shaped body with a pantograph and two air conditioners on the roof in 1984. The new body is cream colored with light green stripes. The 7506 had two 60 kW direct current motors. After 46 years operation, the 7506 was retired from the track, and preserved at ex-Ikenohata-shichikencho Stop in the Shitamachi area.

The old streetcar and the traditional merchant's house... there are a lot of interesting spots in the Shitamachi area of Tokyo.

Shitamachi Museum

Thursday, 7 September 2017

EMU 1000 Series for the 1,000th Post: Part 2

EMU Hankyu 1000 series arrives at Shukugawa Station on the Kobe-Main Line

Thank you for visiting my trainspotting website. This is the 1,001st post in my blog. Following my last post, I am going to show you the other train with the number "1000" in its name to commemorate over 1,000 posts.

Hankyu is one of the major private railway companies in the Kansai (Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto) area. It carries an average of two million passengers per day. The track gauge is 1,435 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. All the trains on the Hankyu line have been keeping up a tradition for a long time, which is known as the "Hankyu maroon" trains. This tradition refers to the color, which is like a chocolate or a dark brown shell of a sweet chestnut, and it is very popular among passengers for its elegance.

The EMU 1000 series is no exception. It also has maroon colored bodies made of aluminum alloy. The 1000 series was launched in 2013. It is a commuter train for the Kobe Main Line and the Takarazuka Line. So far, a total of 12 sets, 96 units, have been built by Hitachi. One set is composed of four motor cars and four trailers. The electric control system is IGBT-VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) provided by Toshiba.

The concept of the 1000 series is "silent and highly energy efficient". In fact, the noise in the interior of motor cars has been decreased by 4 dB. The energy consumption has also been reduced by 50% compared with existing models.

EMU Hankyu 1000 series stands at Shukugawa Station on the Kobe-Main Line

Official information about the EMU Hankyu 1000 series (in Japanese):

Monday, 4 September 2017

EMU 1000 Series for the 1,000th Post

EMU Shizutetsu 1000 series travels on the Shizuoka-Shimizu Line

This is the 1,000th post in my trainspotting blog. It has been about six and a half years since I started writing. I know that many rail-fans have visited this site and sent comments to me, and I'm sorry if it has taken me a long time to respond or not respond to you, I have been very busy with my work.

In commemoration of the "1,000th" post, I am going to show the "1000" series electric car today. In Japan, many operators have "1000 series" trains, because this number is quite convenient. They are the Chiba Urban Monorail, Enoden, Fujikyu, Hakone-Tozan, Izu-Hakone, Keikyu, Keio, Odakyu, Tama Monorail, Tokyo Metro, Tokyo Monorail, Tokyu, Tsukuba Express, Yamaman, and the Yokohama New Transit in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Operators outside of Tokyo also have 1000 series trains such as Hanshin, JR Shikoku, Kobe Municipal Subway, Nagoya Rinkai Kosoku, and the Sendai Subway.

The 1000 series train on the Shizuoka Railway (Shizutetsu) may not be well known because Shizutetsu is a local private railway company in Shizuoka City, about 80 km west of Tokyo. Connecting Shin-Shizuoka and Shin-Shimizu, its operating length is only 11 km. The whole route is electrified double track.

The EMU Shizutetsu 1000 series is a stainless-steel commuter train launched in 1973. A total of 12 sets, 24 units, have been built so far by Tokyu Sharyo. Currently, the 1000 series are being replaced by the new model, the EMU A3000 series. According to the company, all the 1000 series will be retired by 2024.

EMU Shizutetsu 1000 series arrives at Shin-Shimizu Station

Friday, 1 September 2017

Yoro D04: Revival Colored Train

Set D04, "Senroku" of the EMU Yoro 600 series stands at Nishi-Oogaki Station 

As I posted before, Yoro Railway is a local private company in Mie and Gifu prefectures, about 390 km west of Tokyo. Yoro Railway was spun off from Kintetsu in 2007, but still belongs to the Kintetsu Group. Connecting Kuwana on the Kintetsu Line and Ibi Terminal, its route length is 57.5 km. The track is single and electrified. Its electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. Different from the Kintetsu lines, its gauge size is 1,067 mm.

Most of the trains on the Yoro Railway have maroon colored bodies, but there are several exceptions. For instance, set D04 of the EMU 600 series has beige colored bodies with a blue colored stripe. This unique color design is a revival taken from that of Kintetsu's commuter trains in the late 1950's. Set D04 is also an ex-Kintetsu train. Its former name was the EMU 1600 series, called "Senroku" among rail-fans. I like the ring of this word. Senroku was a nickname of the Kintetsu 1600 series. It means thousand (sen) and six (roku) in Japanese.

In the meantime, let me explain about the specification of set D04 using the rest of the blog space. Set D04 was built by Kinki Sharyo. It is composed of two 20 meter-long cars (car number Mo 604 and Ku 504). Mo 604 is a motor car; while Ku 504 is a trailer. Their bogies and security equipment were recently changed from the original ones.

The D04 is my favorite on the Yoro Railway.

Set D01, standard color (left) and Set D04, revival color (right) of the EMU 600 series 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Teramae: Two-faced Station on the Bantan Line

EMU JR West 103-3500 series stands at Teramae Station yard

JR West's Bantan Line penetrates Hyogo Prefecture from south to north. As I posted before, this route has two faces, one as a city line for urban commuters, and one as a local line in the countryside. The southern section is the urban commuter line; while the northern section is the typical local line. Teramae is the mid-point station of the Bantan Line, where you can see both the commuter trains for the southern section and the local diesel rail-cars for the northern section. That is the must-see station for rail-fans.

The commuter train standing at the station yard is the EMU 103 series. The 103 was launched by the ex-Japanese National Railways in 1963 . A total of 3,447 units have been built for 21 years by many manufacturers. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, all 103 series have already been retired from the tracks, but on the Bantan Line, we can still see the modified 103 series, namely the 103-3500 series. The wine-red colored 103-3500 series are operated without a conductor on board. The 103-3500 is a new special name after modifications to the EMU operated without conductors.

The local diesel rail-car standing at Teramae Station is the KiHa 40 series. The KiHa 40 is a standard diesel rail-car for local lines. It was also launched by the ex-Japanese National Railways in 1977. Its vermilion-colored body is called "metropolitan color" among rail-fans. The KiHa 40 stands out against the scenery of the beautiful forests and agricultural areas.

Diesel rail-car, JR West KiHa 40 series stands at Teramae Station yard

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Himeji White: Castle and Shinkansen

EMU N700A series arrives at Himeji Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen

I visited Himeji City for the first time in two years. As I posted before, Himeji is the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture. It is well known as an old castle city.

Himeji Castle, also called Shirasagi (egret) Castle was completed in 1617 by Honda Tadamasa. As its name suggests, it is a white colored castle. The main tower with some attached buildings remains as it was at that time. Himeji Castle was designated as a World Heritage site in 1993. I visited this heritage site last month with my family. It was a very hot and humid day. To make matters worse, there were no air-conditioners in the castle, because it was an old building. When I climbed up the seven-storied castle tower, my head was giddy. 

To visit this historical castle, the closest station is Himeji. It takes three hours from Tokyo by Nozomi super-express on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Our vehicle was a white colored EMU, the N700A series. On June 28th, JR Central made a press release announcing that a new shinkansen model, the N700S, will be launched in 2020. The N700S looks similar to that of the N700 and the N700A, but the outer design will have more sharp bends on the front of the train, so that the N700S will decrease the tunnel boom. The braking performance will also be improved to stop the train quickly, if a large earthquake happens. The N700S is going to replace the old shinkansen train, the EMU 700 series soon.

Himeji Castle near Himeji Station

Official information about the design of the N700S series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

EMU 70000 Series: New Model on the Tobu Line

EMU Tobu 70000 series arrives at Nishi-Arai Station

Following the new train on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, I am going to show you a gleaming new model on the Tobu Line today. 

On July 7th this year, Tobu Railway, the largest private railway company in the Tokyo metropolitan area, launched a new model, the EMU 70000 series on their Isesaki Line. The 70000 series are directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, so that the 70000 series has many things in common with the Tokyo Metro's new model, the 13000 series, which I posted last time. How similar are the Tobu 70000 series and the Tokyo Metro 13000 series?

Firstly, both models have 20 m-long bodies with eight doors per car. One set is composed of seven cars. This unification is provided for the installation of automated platform gates in the future. Secondly, the positions of priority seats for the aged and physically handicapped are unified between both models. Thirdly, travelling devices, such as the type of steering trucks, are the same to reduce manufacturing costs. On the other hand, both Tobu and Tokyo Metro keep their own basic design concept, for instance, the outer design of the train bodies and the mechanisms of door operating devices.

According to Tokyo Metro, 22 sets of the 70000 series will be built by Kinki Sharyo, and will replace the old 20000 series by 2020, when the automated platform doors start to operate on the Tobu- Isesaki and the Tokyo Metro-Hibiya Line.

EMU Tobu 70000 series stands at Nishi-Arai Station

Sunday, 20 August 2017

EMU 13000 Series: New Model on the Hibiya Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 13000 series arrives at Nishi-Arai Station on the Tobu Line

I am posting a topic on the Subway Hibiya Line for the first time in four years. What has become of this busy commuter line?

On March 25th this year, Tokyo Metro, an operator of the subway lines, launched a new model, the EMU 13000 series, on the Hibiya Line. The introduction of the new model was for the first time, indeed, in 29 years. What was the difference between the old 03 series and the new 13000 series?

The largest difference is the size of the train bodies. The old 03 series has short 18 m-long bodies; while the new 13000 series has long 20 m-bodies. The Hibiya Line is an old route opened in 1961. There were many tight curves just below street intersections. The introduction of the large sized trains had been blocked for a long time, but there was no fighting against the trend of the times. Tokyo Metro has eventually removed the obstacles beside the tracks on the tight curves, and enabled the 20 m-long body trains to operate on the line. According to Tokyo Metro, 44 sets of the 13000 series will be built, and will replace the 03 series by 2020.

In the meantime, the trains on the Hibiya Line are directly operated onto the Tobu Line, which is also one of the transportation arteries in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Tobu has also recently introduced the new model. I am going to report it soon.

To be continued.

Side view of the EMU Tokyo Metro 13000 series

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 13000 series:
http://www.tokyometro.jp/susumetro/en/newhibiyaline/

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Access to the Place of Ascetic Training

Mt. Shosha Ropeway in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture

Shosha-zan (Mt. Shosha) is a small mountain (371 m above sea level), where a rich natural environment remains. It is located in Himeji City of Hyogo Prefecture about 650 km west of Tokyo. Engyo-ji temple is in the center of the mountain. Along with Enryaku-ji temple on Hiei-zan (Mt. Hiei) in Kyoto Prefecture, Engyo-ji is known as a place of ascetic training for Buddhists.

Engyo-ji was opened in 966 by Shoku, who was a Buddhist monk. Among the many beautiful halls in the temple precinct, I like Jikido best. It is a wooden, full two-story structure originally opened in 1194. The current building was supposed to be re-constructed in Muromachi period (1336-1573). It is designated National Important Cultural Property of Japan.

To visit this holy place, please take aerial tramway Mt. Shosha Ropeway. Connecting Sanroku and Sanjou stations, its operating length is 781 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 211 meters. Its operating speed is 5 meters per second and it takes 4 minutes to get to Sanjou Station. The operating interval is 15 minutes on average.

Mt. Shosha Ropeway was opened in 1958 by the Transportation Bureau of Himeji City. The current two gondolas, which were built by Anzen-sakudo Company, were launched in 1992 as the third generation of gondolas. The riding capacity is 71 passengers in each one. The passengers can enjoy a beautiful view of Himeji City.

Mt. Shosha Ropeway... an access to the place of ascetic training.

Jikido hall in Engyo-ji temple near Sanjou Station on the Mt. Shosha Ropeway

Official information about Mt. Shosha Ropeway (in Japanese):

Monday, 14 August 2017

Two-faced Diesel Rail-car on the Bantan Line

Diesel rail-car Class KiHa 41 of the JR West KiHa 40 series arrives at Takeda Station

When I visited Takeda Castle Ruins last month, I came across a rare diesel rail-car, which had two kinds of "faces", at Takeda Station on the JR West Bantan Line. What was it?

It was the Class KiHa 41 diesel rail-car. The KiHa 41 was originally built as a single cab car namely the Class KiHa 47. It was, then, renovated as a double-cab diesel rail-car, and renamed the Class KiHa 41. The rounded face on one side is the original one; while the flat face on the other side is attached as a renovation. Thanks to the double-cab, the Class 41 is able to be operated in two directions as a single-car train. I like this rare two-faced diesel rail-car as a rail-fan. You also probably feel that way.

In the meantime, the JR West Bantan Line also has two faces. The section between Himeji and Teramae is electrified and is a typical urban commuter line. The EMU 103-3500 series is operated every half an hour on average. On the other hand, the section between Teramae and Wadayama is un-electrified and a typical local line. The Class KiHa 41 or the KiHa 40 series diesel rail-car is operated every hour on average. It is similar with the JR East Hachiko Line, which also has an electrified urban commuter section and a local un-electrified section.

Two-faced diesel rail-car and the two-faced route, we can derive great pleasure from the Bantan Line.

Diesel rail-car Class KiHa 41 of the JR West KiHa 40 series stands at Teramae Station