Dropping the pantographs, EMU JR East EV-E301 series travels on the Karasuyama line
I visited the JR East Karasuyama line for the first time in three years. What was new with this local line in Tochigi Prefecture?
Three more sets of the state-of-art accumulator train, EV-E301 series, were introduced to the line on March 4th last year. The accumulator train is an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit), which has lithium ion accumulators. The train is operated with accumulators on a non-electrified Karasuyama line, and the power is supplied by 1,500 V DC catenaries via pantographs on an electrified track, such as the Tohoku main line.
As a result, all the old diesel rail-cars, namely, the KiHa40 series, disappeared from the Karsuyama line. The KiHa40 series on the Karasuyama line was the only route where we can see these JNR-type old rail-cars in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The last run of the KiHa40 was conducted on March 3rd, 2017.
Incidentally, the Karasuyama line is a 20.4-km-long route, connecting Hoshakuji and Karasuyama stations, and it is a 1,067-mm-wide single track. There are several sightseeing spots along the line, including beautiful waterfalls and natural flower fields.
Dropping its pantographs, the EV-E301 series is operated by the electric power supplied by two sets of 600 V-95 kWh lithium ion accumulators. It has induction motors with a VVVF (variable frequency drive) control system. It is also able to recharge its power while braking, using the regenerative braking system. I was surprised that the train operated so smoothly and with such a low noise level.