Diesel rail-car KiHa 40 series (Karasuyama color) stands at Utsunomiya station yard
JR East recently made a press release announcing that three more sets of the state-of-art accumulator train, EV-E301 series, will be introduced to the Karasuyama Line on March 4th. The accumulator train is an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit), which has lithium ion accumulators. The power of this train is supplied from 1,500 V DC catenaries on an electrified track via pantographs; meanwhile, the train is operated with accumulators on a non-electrified track. The Karasuyama Line is a 20.4 km-long non-electrified route.
As a result, the present diesel rail-cars won't be operated on the Karasuyama Line any longer. In other words, the present rolling stock, namely the KiHa40, will be retired soon. There is no fighting against the trend of the times. The diesel rail-car KiHa40 series was launched in 1977 by Japanese National Railways (JNR). JNR was Japan's largest railway network at that time, so, the KiHa40 series was soon introduced to lines all over Japan from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. After JNR was split into seven railway companies in 1987, each regional company has started to introduce their own rolling stock. It means that the KiHa40 has started retirement bit by bit from this timing. Currently, the Karasuyama Line is the only route where we can see these JNR-type old rail-cars in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The last run of the KiHa40 on the Karasuyama Line will be planned on March 3rd. Sayonara (good-bye) and Arigatou (thank you) the KiHa40.
Diesel rail-car KiHa 40 series (metropolitan color = right) stands at Utsunomiya station yard