Monday, 28 May 2018

De 9003: Black "CENTRAM" in Toyama City

Unit De 9003 of the electric car Toyama Chiho Railway 9000 series, CENTRAM

Tram routes in Japan were abolished one after another due to heavy traffic jams. They just stay in people's minds in many cities such as Yokohama, Nagoya and Sendai. We can't go against the current of time.

Please wait a moment! Toyama City still creates a tram network as the main urban public transportation system. Toyama is the main city of Toyama Prefecture, about 390 km northwest of Tokyo. This city is facing the Sea of Japan and suffers not from traffic jams, but depopulation and aging of society. Currently, the merit of tram systems is being recognized once again in Toyama City from the point of view of barrier-free and environmental protection.

Toyama has a total of 7.6 kms tram network in the urban area. The track is double, partly single. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. CENTRAM is a must-ride streetcar in Toyama City. Its formal name is the electric car, Toyama Chiho Railway De 9000 series. This modern vehicle was launched in 2009 when the Circle Line was opened. It is included in the category of low floor type LRV (light rail vehicle). A total of three units were built by Niigata Transys. The body colors are white (Unit De 9001), silver (Unit De 9002) and black (Unit De 9003). I like the black-colored one best, as it is cool and sophisticated. 

The black CENTRAM is a symbol of the tram city.

Electric car 9000 series (left) and 7000 series (right)

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Railway High Schools in Tokyo

Entrance of Showa Tetsudo (Railway) High School

There are two railway high schools in Tokyo. One is Iwakura High School, and the other is Showa Tetsudo High School. Today, I am going to show you the latter school.

Showa Tetsudo High School (Showa Railway High School) was established in 1928 to foster human resources for the railway industry. It is the only high school with "railway" in its name in Japan. So far, more than 17,000 people graduated from this school, and many of them got jobs in railway companies.

The campus is located near Kita-Ikebukuro station on the Tobu-Tojo line. Its entrance is quite unique, as it looks like a stainless-steel electric car. According to the school website, they have many railway-related facilities in the campus such as a driving simulator of the EMU JR East 205 series, relay interlocking devices, an automatic door of the EMU ex-JNR 101 series and so on.

They also have real rolling stock in their campus. For instance, I found an electric car, Unit 685, of the EMU Eidan (present Tokyo Metro) 500 series across the school fence. This precious electric car was built in 1961 by Kinki Sharyo. After travelling about 3 million kilometers on the subway Marunouchi line, Unit 685 was retired from the track in 1992. Currently, Unit 685 spends its second life in this school as a precious study material. 

I think that the pupils of Showa Tetsudo High School are happy, as they are surrounded by good railway facilities. Good luck!

Unit 685 of the EMU Eidan (present Tokyo Metro) 500 series

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

EMU 7500 Series: Main Force on the Hokuso Line

EMU Hokuso 7500 series arrives at Higashi-Matsudo station

I assumed that I had already introduced all of the railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area in this blog; but, there are still some left. Today, I am going to show you one of those railways.

Hokuso is a local railway company in Chiba Prefecture. It was established in 1972 for the carriage of the Chiba Newtown residents. The route of Hokuso Railway extends to the western part of Chiba Prefecture including Chiba Newtown. Connecting Keisei-Takasago and Imba-Nihonidai stations, its route length is 32.1 km. The track is double and electrified. The gauge size is 1,435 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V overhead. Hokuso trains are directly operated onto the Keisei, Toei-Asakusa and Keikyu lines.

The EMU 7500 series is a main force of the Hokuso Railway. It was launched in 2006 to replace the old model, named the 7000 series. A total of 3 sets, 24 units, were built by Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Sharyo. As you can see, the 7500 series is a sister train of the Keisei 3000 series. The major difference between the 7500 and the 3000 series is the color of the stripes. The Hokuso 7500 series has blue and light-blue colored stripes; while the Keisei 3000 series has dark-pink and blue-colored stripes on their stainless-steel bodies.

I prefer the Hokuso 7500 series to the Keisei 3000 series, since the color design of the 7500 series is more sophisticated than that of the 3000 series.

Unit 7501 of the EMU Hokuso 7500 series

Official information about the trains on the Hokuso line

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Peony Garden on the Tobu Line

EMU Tobu 20000 series travels on the Tobu line

After admiring beautiful wisteria trellis at Nishiarai-daishi temple, we moved to the peony garden in the same temple. Peony flowers of Nishiarai-daishi temple are more reputable than those of the wisteria trellis. We again enjoyed beautiful flowers there. Specifically, my favorite ones were large pure-white colored peony flowers. The language of peony flowers is bashfulness or compassion; however, I think that it should be noble.

On the way to Nishiarai-daishi temple, I also enjoyed the trains on the Tobu line. The EMU 20000 series is one of my favorite ones. This model was launched in 1988. A total of 24 sets, 192 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Alna Sharyo. The 20000 series is commissioned for direct operation between the Tobu and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya lines.

The Tobu 20000 series will be soon replaced by a new model named the EMU 70000 series. This changing of rolling stock was caused by the construction plan of automatic platform gates on the Tobu and Hibiya lines. For installation of automatic platform gates, all the trains on both routes should have the same size and the same number of doors. The 20000 series has 18 m-long bodies with 6 or 10 doors per car; while the new 70000 series has 20 m-long bodies with 8 doors per car, which is the same size and number of doors as that of the other trains on the Tobu lines.

Please ride on the 20000 series and take pictures before it is too late.

Peony garden near Daishimae station on the Tobu line

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

EMU 817 Series: Black Faced Kyushu Commuter Train

EMU JR Kyushu 817 series stands at Togo station

Kyushu is one of the major islands of Japan. It covers an area of 36,750 square kilometers. As of April this year, Kyushu has a population of 12.9 million. Fukuoka is the largest city on the island. It has a population of 1.57 million. There is a labyrinthine railway network in the urban area of the city of Fukuoka consisting of JR KyushuNishitetsu and Fukuoka City Subway lines.

JR Kyushu's EMU 817 series is the representative commuter train in the city of Fukuoka. It was launched in 2001. A total of 67 sets, 145 units (2-car x 56 sets and 3 cars x 11 sets) were built by Hitachi. Different from the commuter trains in Tokyo, the 817 series is an alternate current train for 20,000 V and 60 Hz overhead electric system.

The good thing about the 817 series in the Fukuoka area is its conversion cross seats. It is different from the older 815 series, which has commonplace long seats. I definitely prefer cross seat trains to long seat ones, since I can enjoy the scenery through the windows on the cross seat trains. Enjoying the scenery is the largest pleasure of railway travelling for me.

In the meantime, the 817 series won the good design award from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2001. The black face is cool; however, its flat shape is not my cup of tea, to be honest. It lacks impact. To hook rail fans, It needs to make a stronger impression.

EMU JR Kyushu 817 series stands at Togo station

Official information about the EMU JR Kyushu 817 series:

Monday, 14 May 2018

Atami: Hot Spring City in Shizuoka Prefecture

Leaving Atami station, EMU JR East 185 series, limited express "Odoriko", heads to Tokyo

After enjoying Ooita Prefecture on Kyushu Island, we visited Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture on our Golden Week holidays. Along with Beppu, Atami is a famous hot spring city in Japan. It is located about 100km west of downtown Tokyo.

The name of the city, Atami, means "hot sea". Obviously, it represents that hot springs are seen on the coast in this city. In fact, we can see many bursts of steam from hot water wells here and there in the city. Another appeal of Atami is its beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. It was still in early May, but we saw many tourists visiting the beach, who were relaxed in their own way. 

To get to Atami from Tokyo, you can choose from JR Central Tokaido Shinakensen or JR East Tokaido Main Line. Obviously, the Shinkansen train is faster. It took only 33 minutes from Shinagawa Station, but it is expensive. We took the Tokaido Main Line this time. JR East's limited express train, Odoriko (dancing girl), the EMU 185 series, was convenient. As I reported before, a media outlet recently stated that the EMU 185 series will be retired from the JR East tracks within a few years. It will be replaced by the EMU E257 series, which is currently operated on the Chuo Main Line.

Operation of the EMU JR East 185 series will soon end. Please ride on it and take photographs before it is too late.

Atami Sun Beach near Atami station

Thursday, 10 May 2018

EMU Keisei 3600 Series: Standard Commuter Train

3658F of the EMU Keisei 3600 series arrives at Yachiyodai station

I assumed that I had already introduced all of the train models in the Tokyo metropolitan area in this blog, since I started it in 2011; but, there are still some left. Introduction of the trains in Tokyo is a never-ending story, isn't it? Today, I am going to show you one of those trains on the Keisei Line.

The EMU Keisei 3600 series is a standard commuter train launched in 1982. A total of 9 sets, 54 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Nippon Sharyo. Currently, 6 sets, 44 units (8-car x 5 sets and 4-car x 1 set) are still operated on the line. It originally had a field chopper electric control system; but one set was modified to VVVF (variable frequency drive) electric control system in 1999.

The design of the 3600 series is just plain. It is a typical commuter train in the 1970s and 1980s. For instance, it has stainless-steel bodies with corrugations. Its face is gable-shaped with large rounded frontal lights and tail lights. The gangway connection is recessed from the gable surface. They are indeed nostalgic for rail-fans, as 36 years have already passed since they debuted.

The 3600 series is directly operated onto the subway Toei-Asakusa line; however, it is impossible to be operated onto the Keikyu line because of its technical specifications. The scrapping of this model has been commenced. Please ride on and take photographs of the 3600 series before it is too late.

3658F of the EMU Keisei 3600 series, rapid service train, stands at Yachiyodai station

Official information about the trains on the Keisei line (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Beppu: The City of Volcanoes and Hot Springs

Gondola "Tsurumi" of the Beppu Ropeway

Japanese take about one straight week of holidays during the so-called "Golden Week" starting from the end of April. This year, Golden Week refered to the period from April 28th to May 6th when there were four national holidays. Using Golden Week, I headed to Ooita Prefecture on Kyushu Island with my family.

Our first destination was Beppu City, about 1,200 km west of Tokyo. Beppu is famous for its volcanic activities. For instance, scenic Mt. Tsurumidake (elevation: 1,375 m) is a popular spot among tourists. Beppu Ropeway is a convenient access to the summit. It is an aerial tramway opened in 1962. Connecting Beppu-kogen and Tsurumi-sanjo stations, its route length is 1,816 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 792.5 meters. Its maximum inclination is 33.6 degrees. The gondola is operated every 20 minutes with an operating speed of 4.1 meters per second. It takes 10 minutes to go one way. The current gondolas, namely Tsurumi and Yufu, were built by Kinki Sharyo in 1986. Each gondola can hold up to 101 passengers.

After enjoying Mt. Tsurumidake, we visited Umi-jigoku (sea hell) in the urban area. Umi-jigoku is a hot spring, which emerged after the eruption of a volcano about 1200 years ago. It is called "sea hell", because its emerald color is associated with the sea. Along with Chinoike-jigoku (blood pond hell), which has red water, Umi-jigoku is also one of the popular sightseeing spots in Beppu City.

Beppu is not a hell but a heaven for world travelers.

Umi-jigoku (Sea Hell) hot spring in Beppu City

Official information about Beppu Ropeway:

Friday, 4 May 2018

EMU Toei 5300 Series: Update

EMU Toei 5300 series travels on the Hokuso line

Four years have already passed since I reported on the train on the subway Asakusa line for the first time. What is the news with this urban subway route operated by the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (hereafter Toei)?

On September 27th last year, a new train, named EMU 5500 series, was started to bring into the Magome rail yard. This new model was introduced to replace the deteriorated model, namely EMU 5300 series. A total of 8 sets, 64 units, are planned to be built by J-trec by the end of March 2019. As of May 2018, the 5500 series has not been commissioned yet. It is said that inductive interference problem was found during their test runs. It will be some time before the commencement of commercial services of the 5500 series.

In the meantime, the existing 5300 series was launched in 1991 to replace the old 5000 series. A total of 27 sets, 216 units, were built by Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Sharyo and Kinki Sharyo. Its constitution is 4M4T (4 motor cars and 4 trailers). Currently, It is directly operated onto the Keikyu, Keisei and Hokuso lines. The 5300 series has aluminum bodies with induction motors and VVVF (variable frequency drive) electric control system. I like the 5300 series, as it has urban-style bodies with a beautiful pristine white color.

According to Toei, all the existing 5300 series will be replaced by the 5500 series in the future. Please take photographs of the 5300 series before it is too late.

EMU Toei 5300 series arrives at Higashi-Matsudo station on the Hokuso line

Official information about the EMU Toei 5300 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Full Blown Wisteria on the Tobu Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 03 series arrives at Nishiarai station on the Tobu Isesaki line

Wisteria is a pea family plant seen in the low mountains in Japan. It has pale purple flowers in the middle of spring. The natural wisteria in the mountains is definitely attractive; but artificial ones, grown using a trellis, is more gorgeous and impressive. I recently visited the garden of Nishiarai-Daishi temple in Adachi Ward of Tokyo Metropolis to admire wisteria flowers. Amazingly, it was not a group of trees, but a single tree grown on the trellis. In other words, I could see only one trunk of wisteria in the center of the trellis. When I visited there, it was in full bloom and the fragrance of the flowers was hanging in the air.

To get to Nishiarai-Daishi temple, the nearest station is Daishimae on the Tobu line. On the way to Daishimae, I came across the EMU Tokyo Metro 03 series, which was directly operated from the subway Hibiya line. The 03 series is an old model launched in 1988. It is an 8-car train consisting of 18-meter short bodies. A total of 42 sets were built by Kinki Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo. The older 25 sets have chopper electric control system; while the newer 22 sets have VVVF inverter control (variable-frequency drive) system.

Due to the introduction of the new model, namely EMU 13000 series, the 03 series is planned to be retired from the track by the year 2020. Please take photographs of the 03 series before it is too late.

Full blown wisteria is seen in the garden of Nishiarai Daishi temple near Daishimae station