Saturday, 29 September 2018

Ex-Keio Train: Time Stands Still

Set 3 (DeHa713 + KuHa723) of the EMU Jomo 700 series (ex-Keio 3000 series)

Whenever I visit this small local railway, I feel that time stands still. A train from the old days is still operated as it was at its debut. But where is it?

The answer is Jomo Electric Railway in Gumma Prefecture, some 100 kilometers north of Tokyo. We can see many old trains there, which were originally operated in the Tokyo Metropolis.

The EMU Jomo 700 series was originally built for the Keio-Inokashira line in the 1960s and 1970s. Its former name was the Keio 3000 series. My grandpa, who passed away in 1999, was a railway engineer for Keio Electric Railway. He was in charge of introducing this train. I still remember visiting Keio's Eifukucho rail yard with him and seeing the 3000 series there for the first time. It was brand spanking new, and the stainless body shined brilliantly in my eyes. 

Since then, I have always had a special fondness for these trains. Even after their retirement from Keio, I cannot forget the 3000 series and I sometimes visit Jomo Electric Railway to see them again. I know that many ex-Keio 3000 series are still operated throughout Japan, for instance, Gakunan Railway, Iyo Railway, and Alpico Kotsu. Keio also preserves one unit of the 3000 series in their railway museum; however, the ex-Keio 3000 series on the Jomo Electric Railway retains the most original form.

The Jomo 700 series... it is a time-machine for me to go back to my childhood.

Set 1 (DeHa711 + KuHa721) of the EMU Jomo 700 series (ex-Keio 3000 series)

Official information about the EMU Jomo 700 series (ex-Keio 3000 series) (in Japanese):
Official information about Jomo Electric Railway:

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Kabutoyama: Another Scenic Spot in Kyoto Prefecture

EMU JR West 287 series, limited express "Kinosaki", stands at Fukuchiyama station

Subsequent to Amanohashidate, I am going to show you another scenic spot in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture today.

Kabutoyama (war helmet mountain) is a small hill in Kyotango City. It rises only 191 meters above sea level. It looked just like an insignificant hill to me, but in fact, it is very unique. The view from the summit is great. We can see the rounded Kumihama Bay, which is surrounded by deep forests and green and yellow colored rice fields. The bay is divided into two parts by a long sandbar resembling Amanohashidate. It certainly is a superb view.

To get to this viewing point, the limited express train "Kinosaki" is convenient. "Kinosaki" is operated by JR West on the San-in mainline. Connecting Kyoto and Kinosaki-onsen, its operating length is 158 kilometers. The nearest station to Kabutoyama is Toyooka.

The train commissioned for limited express "Kinosaki" is the direct current EMU, JR West 287 series. The 287 series was launched in 2011 to replace the old EMU JNR 183 series. A total of 97 units were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. The technical specification of the 287 series is quite unique. All cars are motorcars, but each car has both an electric bogie and a trailing bogie. It is so called "all 0.5M train". The 287 series for "Kinosaki" have white bodies with gray and dark red stripes, which fits the beautiful coastal scenery of the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture.

View from Kabutoyama

Official information about limited express "Kinosaki", the EMU 287 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Hashidate: Limited Express to the Scenic Spot

DMU KTR8000 series, limited express "Hashidate" stands at Fukuchiyama station

I want to continue where I left off in my last post. To visit the Amanohashidate scenic spot, how should you go there from Tokyo?

Please take the JR Central's Tokaido Shinkansen, and get off at Kyoto station. You should, then, transfer to the JR West's San-in main line. The most convenient train from Kyoto is the limited express "Hashidate", which is directly operated onto Kyoto Tango Railway (Tantetsu) line to Amanohashidate station.

One of the vehicles commissioned as Hashidate is the DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) KTR8000 series owned by Tantetsu. The KTR8000 series was launched in 1996 by Kita-Kinki Tango Railway (present Tantetsu) to replace the JR West's old DMU, KiHa 58 series. A total of 5 sets, 10 cars of the KTR8000 series were built by Fuji Heavy Industries. Each car has 20 meter-long body with two 330 PS diesel engines. 

The KTR8000 series used to be called "Tango Explorer", and was popular among tourists. It was, then, renovated from 2015 to 2017 due to deterioration. The new operator, Tantetsu, appointed Eiji Mitooka as the train designer and renovated the KTR8000 series to a train simulating the sea of the Tango area (the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture). For instance, the body color was changed to ultramarine, which is similar to that of the sea of the Tango area. Furthermore, the interior was changed to Japanese style one using flame-retardant woods. A special lounge space was also equipped for families and groups for chatting.

Interior of the DMU KTR8000 series

Official information about the limited express train of Kyoto Tango Railway (in Japanese):

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Access to the Scenic Spot in Kyoto Prefecture

Unit number 1 of the funicular Tango Land and Sea Transportation 

It is said that there are three scenic spots in Japan. They are Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture and Amanohashidate in Kyoto Prefecture. Not all the three spots belong to the National Park; however, these spots have very Japanese views on the coasts. Among the three spots, I am going to show you Amanohashidate today.

Amanohashidate (the heavenly bridge) is a 3.6-kilometer-long sandbar stretching along Miyazu Bay. The sandbar is lined with numerous beautiful pine trees. To admire the view of Amanohashidate, please climb up the hill behind the bay, and go to Kasamatsu Park by a small funicular.

The funicular line, named Amanohashidate Cable, was opened by Nariai Electric Railway Company in 1927. It was once abolished in 1944 due to WWII but reopened in 1951 by Tango Land and Sea Railway Company (present Tango Land and Sea Transportation Ltd.). Connecting Fuchu and Kasamatsu stations, its route length is only 0.4 kilometers. The track gauge size is 1,067 mm. The height difference between the two stations is 130 meters and the maximum inclination of the route is 24.7 degrees. The operation interval is 15 minutes. It takes about 4 minutes to get from Fuchu to Kasamatsu station. The present vehicles, named car number 1 and 2, were built by Alna Koki in 1975. Each car has a 7.95 meter-long body and can accommodate 75 passengers

View of Amanohashidate from Kasamatsu park near Kasamatsu station

Official information about Amanohashidate Cable (in Japanese):

Monday, 17 September 2018

Streetcar Toei 8900 Series: Update

Car number 8903 of the Toei 8900 series (blue)

Three years have passed since the streetcar 8900 series debuted on the Arakawa line. I recently visited the line for the first time in a long time to see what was new with this streetcar model.

I found that the 8900 series has grown to a total of 8 cars. The body colors have also increased to 4 types. They are orange (car number 8901 and 8902), blue (car number 8903 and 8904), rose-red (car number 8905 and 8906) and yellow (car number 8907 and 8908). The technical specifications of the 8900 series are similar to those of the senior 8800 series, but the appearances are different from the 8800 series. For instance, the body shape of the 8900 series is more angular than that of the 8800 series. The auxiliary power supply is installed under the floor of the 8900 series; meanwhile, it was seen on the roof of the 8800 series. 

Incidentally, the Arakawa line is a precious survivor of the tram route in Tokyo. It is operated by the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Toei). Connecting Waseda and Minowabashi stops, its operating length is 12.2 kilometers. The track is 1,372 millimeter-size gauge and double. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead catenary. A large part of the line is an exclusive track, but a short section remains as a shared track with a public road. The 8900 series was launched in 2015 to replace the old 7000 series.

Car number 8908 of the Toei 8900 series (yellow)

Friday, 14 September 2018

Satoyama Torocco Train in Chiba Prefecture

Kominato Railway's Satoyama Torocco train

"Satoyama" is a unique landscape in Japan. It is a mountain close to a living area. Local people gather firewood and edible wild plants in satoyama. It also functions as a windbreak for the living area. Satoyama has a secondary natural environment that cannot exist without the moderate intervention of human beings. Satoyama should be taken care of by people.

We can see a typical satoyama landscape in Boso peninsula of Chiba Prefecture. It consists of villages, rice fields and green mountains. Satoyama Torocco train, which is operated by a small local private railway company, is a convenient way to see satoyama landscape. Satoyama Torocco train was launched in 2015 by Kominato Railway using a light railway-style locomotive and 4-car coaches. It is similar with those of Kurobe Kyokoku Railway in Toyama Prefecture, Akasawa Forest Railway in Nagano Prefecture and Sherpa-kun in Gumma Prefecture.

The locomotive is named the Class DB4. It is a diesel locomotive made to resemble the Koppel steam locomotive in the 1920's. Its body length is 8.45 meters. The DB4 has a diesel engine, which was made by Volvo, with 256 kW output. The coaches have special roofs made of ultra-violet ray protection glass.

The operating section of Satoyama Torocco train is between Kazusa-Ushiku and Yoro-keikoku (18.5 kilometers). Satoyama Torocco train travels slowly on the track, so that the passengers can be relaxed and enjoy the one hour travel in the countryside.

Satoyama Torocco tour would be a journey to landscape in the original state in Japan.

Side view of the Class DB4 diesel locomotive, not a steam locomotive

Official information about  Satoyama Torocco train:

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Tobu Crayon Shinchan Train: Part 3

Crayon Shinchan Train, 51055F of the EMU Tobu 50050 series, travels on the Tokyu line

One year has already passed since the Crayon Shinchan Train disappeared from the track. I still have their unreleased photos, so that I am going to show you them today.

As I posted before, Crayon Shinchan is a popular TV animation series created by Usui Yoshito. The main character, Crayon Shinchan, is a 5-year-old boy, who goes to kindergarten. The series depicts the everyday life of Crayon Shinchan with his parents, a baby sister, friends, kindergarten teachers and so on. Kasukabe City in Saitama Prefecture is the stage of this famous animation. Kasukabe is located on the Tobu-Isesaki line.

Starting from November 3rd, 2016, Tobu Railway had been operating special poster trains with a Crayon Shinchan design (Crayon Shinchan Train) to promote tourism to Kasukabe City. They were five sets of the EMU 50050 series. Each 10-car train set was beautifully decorated with Crayon Shinchan characters on a yellow (51055F), blue (51056F), red (51057F), orange (51058F) and green (51059F) colored background. Tobu trains were directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro-Hanzomon line and the Tokyu-Denentoshi line so that people in Tokyo Metropolis and Kanagawa Prefecture also enjoyed these unique trains in their areas. Although Crayon Shinchan Train was very popular among children, the operation of this special poster train was terminated on August 31st, 2017.

Incidentally, the EMU 50050 series is Tobu's standard commuter train launched in 2006. A total of 18 sets, 180 units, are operated on the track. It has the concepts of universal design and low energy consumption.

Crayon Shinchan Train, 51057F of the EMU Tobu 50050 series, travels on the Tokyu line

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Ex-Keio Train in Choshi City: Part 2

2002F of the EMU Choden 2000 series arrives at Inubo station

Choshi is situated in the easternmost part of Chiba Prefecture. It is located at the tip of the cape, so that the whole city is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Because of its topography, Choshi is cooler than the other cities in the Tokyo metropolitan area in summer; meanwhile, it is warm in winter. I am jealous of people in Choshi.

There is another fascination in Choshi. It is a unique local private railway, namely Choshi Electric Railway (Choden). Choden has only three active sets of rolling stock. They are 3001F, 2001F and 2002F.

2002F of the EMU 2000 series is a 2-car train consisting of one driving motor car (DeHa 2002) and one driving trailer (KuHa 2502). These cars were originally operated on the Keio line in Tokyo under the names of DeHa 2069 and SaHa 2576 of the EMU 2010 series. After retirement from the Keio line, they moved to Iyo Railway in Shikoku Island in 1984. These cars were then moved again to Choden in 2009. The "face" of the KuHa 2502 was remodeled from a middle car (SaHa 2576) in the days of Iyo Railway.

2002F is currently painted two tones of dark rose and beige. It is a revival color design of Choden before 1990. It looks just like the revival colored trains on the Seibu and the Izu-Hakone lines. Revival color is the key trend on the Japanese Railway to attract passengers like me... a rail-fan.

Side view of 2002F, the EMU Choden 2000 series

Official information about the trains of Choshi Electric Railway (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

2018 Summer Memories: Romance Car GSE

EMU Odakyu 70000 series, Romance Car GSE, travels on the Odawara line

It was very hot this summer in the Tokyo metropolitan area. On July 23rd, the highest temperature in Kumagaya City was 41.1 degrees Celsius, which was an all-time record high in Japan. The only thing I could do was escape the city and go to the highlands, but the trains to resort areas were crowded with passengers, because it was the summer holiday season.

Odakyu Romance Car was no exception. Whenever I happened to see it, the train to Hakone, which is a reputable resort in the Tokyo metropolitan area, was almost full. Specifically, the new Romance Car model, namely GSE (the EMU 70000 series), was very popular among the tourists. GSE is a 7-car train with upper-deck cockpits. Passengers can enjoy the view ahead. It is the same as the previous models such as NSE, LSE, HiSE and VSE, but GSE is more elaborate. For instance, it has large band windows to secure a clear visual field for passengers. On the same score, there are no luggage racks above the windows in car number 1 and 7, where passengers want to enjoy the front and the back views.

Regarding the technical specifications of GSE, an electrohydraulic full active suspension system is notable. It is a special device to minimize the lateral swinging movement of the train. The electric control system is state of the art full SiC-VVVF inverter.

Just in case, have I already taken Romance Car GSE? Good question! No, I haven't to be honest. Sorry for cracking wise.

EMU Odakyu 70000 series, Romance Car GSE, passes through Chitose-Funabashi station

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The 3100 Series: New Model to the Resort Mountain

Electric car Hakone Tozan 3100 series (2-car train) arrives at Miyanoshita station

I recently visited Hakone Tozan Railway for the first time in a year and a half. What was new with this dependable transporter that climbs up the resort mountain?

On May 15th, 2017, the company launched new electric cars, the 3100 series, on their Hakone Tozan line. It is a 2-car train composed of two motor cars. The 3100 series is a sister train of the previously debuted 3000 series, named "Allegra" ("Hello" in Rumantsch). What is the difference between the 3000 and the 3100 series? The 3000 series has two cabins per car; meanwhile, the 3100 series has single cabin per car. In other words, the 3000 series can be operated as a single-car train; meanwhile, the 3100 series must be operated as at least a 2-car train. 

Except for the number of the cabins, the other specifications of the 3000 and the 3100 series are almost same. For instance, they have 14 meter-long bodies. They have a state of art regenerative brake system. The common greatest selling-point is their large windows, which provide the passengers with the beautiful scenery of Hakone Mountain.

So far, 4 cars of the 3000 and the 3100 series have been built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. A breakdown is two cars of the 3000 series and one set of the 3100 series. I saw plenty of inbound tourists boarding on the 3000 and the 3100 series. It seems popular among them.

Introducing the new models, Hakone Tozan Railway is at the new developing stage.

Electric car Hakone Tozan 3000 series (single-car train) + 3100 series (2-car train)

Official information about the electric car 3100 series (in Japanese):
Official movie of Hakone Tozan Railway: