Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Dr. Yellow: The High Speed Inspector

Set T4 of the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow, stands at Shinagawa Station

You may think that all the train models on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen have already been shown in this blog, but wait a moment please. There still remains an important model. What is it?

This is the first time to introduce the EMU 923 series to you. The 923 series is an electric and track inspection train belonging to JR Central and JR West. The 923 series was launched in 2000 to replace an old inspection train, the 922 series. A total of two sets, 14 units, were built by Hitachi and Nippon Sharyo. Set T-4 belongs to JR Central; meanwhile, JR West owns set T-5. The mission of the 923 series is to inspect tracks, signals, telecommunication, and electric power systems. The body is designed according to the 700 series.

One of the features of this inspection train is its high speed. The 923 series is able to be operated with a maximum speed of 270 km/hour during the inspection. The data is immediately analyzed and used for the maintenance of tracks. The function of the 923 series is similar with that of the JR East E926 series which is operated on the Tohoku Shinkansen and other Shinkansens connected therewith.

The nickname of the 923 series is "Dr. Yellow", as it has vivid yellow colored bodies. Dr. Yellow is very popular among rail-fans. JR Central does not release the timetable of Dr. Yellow, but many families with children flock to stations to see this rare train on its operation date.

Side view of set T4 of the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow

Official information about the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow (in Japanese):

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Class DD51: The Long-standing Diesel Locomotive

DL Class DD51 is exhibited at the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival (October, 2016) 

The day of the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival is drawing near again. What is the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival? It is an annual event held at Sumidagawa Freight Station by JR Freight (JRF). JRF is one of the JR group railway companies established in 1987. Different from the other JR group companies, JRF operates their trains on a nationwide scale, using the other regional JR group companies' tracks.

Taking this opportunity, I am going to show you what it was like at the last festival held on October 30th, 2016. The main event of the festival was an exhibition of JRF's locomotive fleet. The vermilion colored diesel locomotive (DL), Class DD51, drew a crowd. The DD51 is a diesel-hydraulic locomotive launched in 1962. A total of 649 units were built between 1962 and 1978. The DD51 has a convex type body with three double-shaft bogies. Two of them on both ends of the body are motive bogies and the other one at the center of the body is a bogie without power (B+2+B in UIC notation). The DD51 has two 1,100 ps (or 1,000 ps) diesel engines.

Class DD51 is often operated as a double-heading train. For instance, a famous overnight sleeper train, Hokutosei, was a double-heading train pulled by the DD51 on the section between Hakodate and Sapporo on Hokkaido Island. Unfortunately, Hokutosei was abolished in 2015, when the Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened.

Class DD51 is the evergreen long-standing DL in Japan.

Close up of DD51 1805 (October, 2016)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Naotora: The Lady Warlord on the Tenryu-Hamanako Line

Unit TH2102 of the Diesel Rail-car TH2100 series travels on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway

Is movie tourism or TV drama tourism popular in your country? Yes, it is in Japan. For instance, Shimonada Station on the JR Shikoku Yosan Line is famous among movie fans because Shimonada has been used as a shooting location for many movies.

Recently, a popular TV drama "Naotora, the Lady Warlord" aired on Sunday evenings. Naotora was a real person in history. She was born in 1536 as a daughter of the lord of Iinoya. Naotora inherited Iinoya Castle and lived powerfully in the civil war age. She faced many personal troubles, but eventually overcame them. Naotora also lived with love.

"Naotora, the Lady Warlord" is set in the western part of Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, about 270 km west of Tokyo. The nearest station from the Iinoya Castle is Kiga on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway. This local private railway is the former Futamata Line of Japanese National Railways (JNR). It was spun off from JNR and privatized as the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway in 1986. Connecting Kakegawa and Shinjohara, the route length is 67.7 km. The track is single and non-electrified. A lovely diesel rail-car is operated every half an hour on average. After getting off at Kiga Station, I visited Ryotan-ji, which is the temple of Naotora. The Japanese garden designed by Kobori Enshu in the 17th century was very beautiful.

I enjoyed the TV drama tour and the local railway with my family on an autumn day.

Beautiful garden of Ryotan-ji Temple near Kiga Station on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Delicious Train on the Izukyu Line

Set R-3 of the EMU Izukyu 2100 series, the Kinme train, stands at Atami Station

On February 4th this year, Izukyu Railway launched a new renovated sightseeing train "the Izukyu Kinme train" on their track. What is Kinme? It is the name of a fish, caught offshore the Izu peninsula. Kinme (red bream) has a beautiful red colored body and is delicious in sashimi or even if cooked. Izukyu promotes tourism to the Izu peninsula by adopting the local specialty, Kinme, to their Kinme-colored train.

The formal name of the Izukyu Kinme train is set R-3 of the EMU 2100 series. Previously it had blue colored bodies with a gray colored stripe, which stood for the ocean and the sand beach on the coast of the Izu peninsula. As I posted before, the 2100 series is called "Resort 21", which has special facilities as a resort train. For instance, it has sloping tiers of seats to enjoy gorgeous mountain and ocean views in car number 1 and 7. Furthermore, car number 3 has a Kinme museum, where you can see the explanation and the illustration of Kinme. To our joy, an extra charge is not required to get on the Kinme train.

For your information, Izukyu is a local private railway company on the Izu Peninsula. Connecting Ito and Izukyu-Shimoda, the total operating length is 45.7 km. The entire route is an electrified single track. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

The Izukyu Kinme train is a delicious train on the resort peninsula.

Side view of the Kinme train

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