Friday, 22 June 2018

New Standard Commuter Train in the Niigata Area

EMU JR East E129 series arrives at Niigata station

I recently visited Niigata City for the first time in four years. What was new with this local city on the Sea of Japan coast?

Firstly, I found that the JR East Niigata station had been renovated. The platforms of conventional lines were remodeled on the newly completed elevated tracks. Four years ago, the elevated platforms were designed only for the Joetsu Shinkansen while trains on the conventional lines used the old surface platforms. It was as if I were in another world.

Secondly, I found the new standard commuter trains, the EMU E129 series on the tracks. The E129 series was launched in December 2014 to replace the old 115 series. It is a 1,500 V DC train with induction motors. The electric control system is IGBT-VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive). A total of 55 sets (4-cars and 2-cars), 160 units, were built by J-TREC Niitsu factory.

Technical specifications of the E129 series are similar to those of the E233 series in the Tokyo metropolitan area; however, the E129 series has some special equipment depending on the situations in the snowy country. Major equipment is cold-proof and snow-proof. Front and tail lights are heated for preventing deposition of snow. More importantly, all cars have both electric boggies and trailing boggies (all 0.5Ms) for preventing wheels from slipping in snowy conditions.

Most of the commuter trains I saw at Niigata station were the E129 series. The old 115 series was now quite rare. Everything regarding railways in the Niigata area changes quickly.

New elevated platforms of Niigata station