Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Preserved Sleeper EMU on Kyushu Island

KuHaNe581-8 of the EMU 581 series is exhibited in the Kyushu Railway History Museum

Following the preserved electric locomotive named Class ED72, I am going to continue to show you a unique exhibition in Kyushu Railway History Museum today.

KuHaNe581-8 of the 581 series was the world's first sleeper electric multiple unit (EMU). The 581 series is AC-DC dual electric system EMU, specifically for 60Hz-AC electric system tracks. It was launched in 1967 by Japanese National Railways. A total of 434 units (including its brother EMU, the 583 series for 50Hz/60Hz - dual AC electric systems), were built by Hitachi, Nippon Sharyo and others. As you may know, there were many sleeper coaches pulled by locomotives in the world; however, sleeper EMU had not existed until then. The 581 series was also commissioned as a standard seat train in the daytime.

Gekko (moonlight) was the representative overnight sleeper train operated by the 581 series between Shin-Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen and Hakata on Kyushu Island. It was debuted in 1967 and abolished in 1975, when the parallel Sanyo Shinkansen route was opened. Since then, the 581 series appeared significantly less often. Eventually, the 581 series disappeared from the track in 2015.

I have no experience in using the EMU 581 series overnight sleeper train, but I once used it when it was operated as a daytime seat train from Ogori to Okayama on the Sanyo Main Line. It was a limited express, Shioji (tideway). It was in 1973, when I was a boy. The time really flies.

Close up of the display of KuHaNe 581-8