Niigata is located about 340 kilometers north of Tokyo, and is the main city of Niigata Prefecture. The current population is about 810,000. Niigata has grown as the largest city on the Sea of Japan side of the archipelago since the 16th century. It was a lagoonal area before the development.
The name of the central railway station in Niigata City is exactly Niigata. It was opened in 1904 and recently renovated as a modern terminal. The platforms of the conventional lines were remodeled on the newly completed elevated tracks. They are situated on the same level as the shinkansen tracks. The commuter trains arriving at and leaving Niigata station have also replaced by a new model, namely the EMU E129 series.
Everything looks new in Niigata station, but some old things still exist. For instance, the diesel rail-cars, which sometimes appear at the station, are rather old. It is the KiHa 40 series debuted in 1977. The KiHa 40 is the standard diesel rail-cars for local lines. It consists of three groups, namely the Class KiHa 40, 47 and 48. What is the major difference between these three groups? Firstly, the Class KiHa 40 has double cabins; meanwhile, the Class KiHa 47 and 48 have single cabins. Secondly, the Class KiHa 47 has double (center-opened) doors; meanwhile, the Class KiHa 40 and 48 have single (side-opened) doors.
The KiHa 40 series is becoming an industrial heritage. How much longer will it be in the Niigata area?
Diesel rail-cars Class KiHa 40 and 47 stand at old surface Niigata station (June, 2014)