Sunday, 25 August 2019

2019 Summer Memories: Old Train and Unique Museum

EMU JR West 415 series travels on the Nanao line

After arriving at Kanazawa station, we changed trains and headed north. Our destination was Hakui City located at the root of Noto Peninsula.

Although Hakui is just a small local city, there is a large space museum named "Cosmo Isle Hakui" near the railway station. The exhibitions are gorgeous and unique. For instance, we can see the genuine Vostok, a former Soviet spacecraft. We found numerous burns on the surface of the spacecraft, which were created as the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere. The American exploration vehicle Luna/Mars Rover was also exhibited. It was a prototype, but also genuine. Hakui is a formidable city, isn't it?

To get to Hakui, IR Ishikawa Railway (IR) and the JR West Nanao line are convenient. Approximately half of all IR trains are operated directly onto the Nanao line. It takes about one hour by local train. We got on a red-colored, old train named the EMU JR West 415 series, which was launched in 1971 by Japanese National Railways. The 415 series has an alternate current (AC) - direct current (DC) dual electric system, since AC and DC tracks are mixed in the area. The AC system is 20,000 V with 50 and 60 hertz, and the DC system is 1,500 V. The red colored bodies are designed to look like Wajima-nuri, which is a traditional local lacquer. For your information, the 415 series trains are also seen in other areas of Japan such as Kyushu Island.

To be continued...

Genuine Vostok spacecraft (right) is exhibited at Cosmo Isle Hakui near Hakui station

Sunday, 18 August 2019

2019 Summer Memories: Kanazawa Station

Set W10 of the EMU JR West W7 series stands at Kanazawa station

It was hot again this summer in Japan. I was very busy at work, but could manage to take a 2-day holiday in the middle of August. I visited Ishikawa Prefecture in the Hokuriku area with my family. The main city in Ishikawa Prefecture is Kanazawa, which is located about 450 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.

The gateway station to Kanazawa City is also Kanazawa. JR West Hokuriku Shinkansen, the Hokuriku main line, IR Ishikawa Railway and Hokuriku Railway trains stop at the station. It took just two and a half hours by Kagayaki (brilliance) super-express on Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo. The trains are the EMU W7 and E7 series. They have same technical specifications, but the W7 series belongs to JR West; meanwhile, the E7 series belongs to JR East. The E7 series was launched in 2014 as a Nagano Shinkansen train; meanwhile, the W7 series newly debuted at the timing of inauguration of Hokuriku Shinkansen in 2015. The maximum speed is only 260 kilometers per hour, but they can climb up the Usui Pass (a steep incline of 30 per mil) at a speed of 210 kilometers per hour. A total of 33 sets, 396 units were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and the others.

After getting off the super-express train, we firstly saw Tsuzumi-mon (Hand drum gate), which is a symbol of Kanazawa station. It is said that the gate represents local people's hospitality and art-loving personality.

To be continued...

Tsuzumi-mon (hand drum gate) in front of Kanazawa station

Official information about Hokuriku Shinkansen:
Official information about the EMU JR West W7 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 15 August 2019

EMU 521 Series: AC-DC Train in the Hokuriku Area

EMU IR Ishikawa 521 series stands at Takaoka station

It's fun to travel for everybody, but it will be more fun if you are a rail fan. For instance, tourists can enjoy beautiful coastal scenery and delicious seafood in the Hokuriku area, but you will also enjoy local railways and trains there, if you are a rail fan. That's unique to rail fans all over the world.

The EMU 521 series is a local train model in the Hokuriku area, which is located in the central part of the Sea of Japan side. It was originally launched by JR West in 2006, and, then, belongs to IR Ishikawa and Ainokaze Toyama railways as well. A total of 144 units were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo.

The 521 series has an alternate current (AC) - direct current (DC) dual electric system, since AC and DC tracks are mixed in the area. It is quite unique and makes the train system complicated. The AC system is 20,000 V with 60 Hz; meanwhile, the DC system is 1,500V. One set is composed of two cars. They are one motor car and one trailer (1M1T). Its maximum speed is 120 kilometers per hour.

The outer design of the 521 series is similar with that of the other JR West trains in the Osaka area such as the EMU 223 series and the KiHa 127 series. Their faces have four square lights, two large windows and a gangway. I never get weary of looking at this design.

EMU Ainokaze Toyama 521 series leaves Takaoka station

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Good-bye to the Tokyu 8500 Series on the Oimachi Line

8641F of the EMU Tokyu 8500 series travels on the Oimachi line (January, 2018)

A long-lived train, the EMU Tokyu 8500 series, was eventually retired from the Tokyu Oimachi line on April 5th this year. I have now realized that one era is coming to a close.

The 8500 series was launched in 1975, when the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line trains started to be directly operated onto the subway Hanzomon line. It was, then, introduced onto the Oimachi line as well in 1986. A total of 400 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo.

The technical specification of the 8500 series was almost the same as that of the older 8000 series, but the outer design of the 8500 and the 8000 series was slightly different. For instance, the newer 8500 series had three displays on the front; meanwhile, the older 8000 series had one display only.

The electric motor of the 8500 series was traditional direct current compound (130 kW) and the electric control system was old field chopper. The stainless-steel bodies with corrugated structures were old-fashioned, but very stout and trouble-proof. The growling running sound of the 8500 series was very nostalgic and definitely my favorite. It was exactly the sound of trains in the 1970's. 

After retirement from the Oimachi line, the 8500 series became an endangered species of trains. Few units of them are only operated on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line, Chichibu Railway, Nagano Electric Railway and the commuter lines in Jakarta, Indonesia. Please hurry up and take their photos before it is too late!

8638F of the EMU Tokyu 8500 series arrives at Hatanodai station (January, 2018) 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Subtle Change of the Stripe Color: EMU 205-500 Series

Set R6 (new stripe color) of the EMU JR East 205-500 series on the Sagami line

I have recently visited the JR East Sagami line for the first time in three years. The Sagami line penetrates the western part of Kanagawa Prefecture from north to south. Connecting Hashimoto and Chigasaki stations, its total length is 33.3 kilometers. The entire route is electrified and single. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. 4-car trains named the EMU 205-500 series are operated every 20 minutes on average.

What was new with this local line? I found that there were subtle differences in the body stripe colors among the EMU 205-500 series. Some sets had a blue-green stripe; meanwhile, the other sets had a simple blue stripe. Which is the newer? The answer is the latter one (simple blue stripe). I am very happy to perceive this kind of fine difference among the trains as a trainspotter. Trainspotters are easy-going people, aren't they?

Incidentally, the EMU 205-500 series was launched in 1991, when the route was electrified. A total of 13 sets, 52 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo and JR East Ofuna Factory. Its technical specification is rather old at this distance of time, but the 205-500 series is still operated as the only model on the Sagami line. It will be replaced by a new model or the E231 series moved from the Tokaido line in the near future, but it has not been officially announced yet. I am biding my time and waiting for the official announcement by JR East.

Set R7 (old stripe color) of the EMU JR East 205-500 series on the Sagami line

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Final Chapter of the Yamanote E231-500 Series

EMU JR East E231-500 series arrives at Shibuya station on the Yamanote line

The JR East Yamanote line is well known as Japan's busiest railway. Eleven-car trains are frequently operated from early morning to midnight. The route length of the Yamanote line is 34 kilometers. It is looped through several downtown areas in the Tokyo Metropolis. The track is double so that each train runs in the same direction throughout the day; clockwise or counterclockwise. The train covers the entire route in about 60 minutes. There are 29 stations and most of them are interchanges to the subway, private railways and/or other JR lines.

The train operator, JR East, has been introducing state of the art commuter trains onto this Japan's representative urban line. The EMU E231-500 series was no exception. It was launched in 2004 in response to JR East's new train controlling system, namely the Digital Automatic Train Control (D-ATC). A total of 52 sets, 572 cars, were built by JR East Niitsu Factory. The E231-500 series once became the one and only fleet on the Yamanote line; however, the kingdom of the E231-500 series did not last long. A new model, the E235 series, debuted in 2015, and has been increasing in numbers. As a result, the older E231-500 series has been forced to move to the Sobu local line.

According to JR East, all the E231-500 series will be replaced by the E235 series by the end of March, 2020. It is the final chapter of the E231-500 series story on the Yamanote line.

EMU JR East E235 series (left) and E231-500 series (left) stand at Tokyo station

Monday, 22 July 2019

Revisit to Mt. Takao

Funicular Momiji travels on the Takao Tozan Dentetsu line

I visited Mt. Takao after a long time. What's new with this holiday mountain? I found that the number of foreign visitors has drastically increased. For instance, I saw many foreigners at a beer restaurant near the top of the mountain, where customers can see the beautiful scenery while drinking superb beers and foods.

To visit this holiday mountain, you cannot go by car. Visitors have three choices to get to the summit... walking, taking a lift or a funicular. As a rail fan, I recommend you take a funicular named Takao Tozan Dentetsu (Takao Mountain Climbing Electric Railway). Connecting Kiyotaki and Takaozan stations, its route length is 1,020 meters. The track was originally completed by Takao Kosaku Tetsudo (Takao Cable-railway) in 1927. The height difference between the two stations is 271 meters. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. The operation interval is 15 minutes. It takes about 6 minutes from Kiyotaki to Takaozan station. The funicular passes through two tunnels on the route.

There are two rail cars namely Aoba (green leaves) and Momiji (maple) on the track. Momiji has a yellow and red colored body, which stands for the beautiful autumn leaves on the mountain. Momiji can accommodate 135 passengers. The inclination of the track is not so large at Kiyotaki station, but it gets steeper and steeper toward the top of the mountain, specifically after passing through the mid-course. Eventually, the angle reaches the maximum (31 degrees 18 minutes), which is the steepest track in Japan, just before Takaozan station.

Funicular Momiji passes through the mid-course of the Takao Tozan Dentetsu line

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Rose Garden in Kanagawa Prefecture

8260F of the EMU Odakyu 8000 series travels on the Odakyu line

There are several reputable rose gardens in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. They are Yono Park, Kyu-Furukawa Garden, Keisei Rose Garden, Yatsu Rose Garden and Yokohama English Garden. Are there still more? Yes, Flower and Green Center is another must-see spot. I visited a rose garden of Flower and Green Center in May, and enjoyed the colorful blossoms as well as the sweet fragrances... a total of 1,300 kinds of roses.

To visit this beautiful garden, the nearest station is Hadano on the Odakyu line. What is new with Odakyu? On April 26th, the company announced that a new train, named the EMU 5000 series, will be launched by March, 2020. The introduction of the new commuter train model will be first time in 12 years. What are the distinctive features of the 5000 series? Firstly, the interior of the 5000 series is wider than those of the recent models such as the 3000 and the 4000 series. Secondly, the front of the body is streamlined, which is now in fashion.

What will happen after the introduction of the brand new 5000 series train? The oldest 8000 series will be gradually retired from the track. The EMU 8000 series, which was launched in 1982, is a fully painted steel body train. Its major assignment is as an express train to transport commuters from the western suburbs to the city center of Tokyo.

Take photos of the 8000 series before it is too late!

Rose garden of the Flower and Green Center near Hadano station on the Odakyu line

Official information about the new EMU Odakyu 5000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Iris Garden on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 05 series (left) and 16000 series (right) on the Chiyoda line

The rainy season continues in Tokyo. From early June to mid-July, Tokyo has a hot and humid rainy season, called Tsuyu. It is a gloomy period for Tokyoites before midsummer, but it is a pleasure to see some kinds of beautiful flowers, which only bloom in this season. Along with hydrangeas, irises are typically seen during the rainy season in Tokyo. The large colorful blossoms are gorgeous and elegant. It is said that the practice of viewing iris flowers began to spread throughout Japan in the 13th century by flower-loving Samurais.

Last month, I visited a local iris garden in Adachi Ward, called Shobu-numa Garden (Iris Swamp Garden). The garden is located just in front of Kita-Ayase station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line. If you go down from the station platform by the elevator, you can see beautiful iris flowers immediately after opening the elevator doors. What a convenient location it is! To our joy, admission to Shobu-numa Garden is free, as it is operated by Adachi Ward Office...thank you.

Incidentally, the platform length of Kita-Ayase station was recently extended from 80 to 200 meters. It is now enough to accommodate 10-car trains. As a result, not only the short EMU 05 series trains, but also the long EMU 16000 series trains can stop at Kita-Ayase station. It is good news for local people, as the number of stopping trains has increased. The completion of the long station platform will contribute to the growth of the Kita-Ayase area.

Shobu-numa (Iris Swamp) Garden is located just in front of Kita-Ayase station

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 16000 series (in Japanese):

Saturday, 6 July 2019

EMU 209-1000 Series: Rare Train on the Chuo Line

Set ToTa82 of the EMU JR East 209-1000 series arrives at Kanda station on the Chuo line

As I posted before, JR East announced in September, 2018 that the EMU 209-1000 series on the Joban line would be transferred to the Chuo line. It was caused by the renovation and coupling of additional cars for the existing Chuo line trains (the EMU E233 series). In particular, toilets would be newly equipped and the Green Cars (the first class cars) would be added for improvement in the quality of passenger services. During this work period, trains on the Chuo line would be shorthanded, so that the 209-1000 series would be temporarily invited from the Joban line.

On March 16th, 2019, JR East launched the EMU 209-1000 series on the Chuo line. Currently, a total of two sets (ToTa81 and ToTa82), twenty cars, are commissioned on the line. Because of its technical restrictions, these two sets are operated on a limited section between Tokyo and Takao stations. In other words, the 209-1000 series cannot run beyond Takao station on the Chuo line, and cannot go onto the other lines, for example the Ohme line.

The bodies of the 209-1000 series have been changed from green to orange, which is the line color of the Chuo line. The 209-1000 series has become very popular among rail fans as it is a rare train. If you wish to take photos of the 209-1000 series, the timetable on a weekend is as follows. Good luck!

Leave Toyoda at 14.00 and arrive at Tokyo at 14.59, then leave Tokyo at 15.03 and arrive at Toyoda at 16.03

Set ToTa82 of the EMU JR East 209-1000 series travels on the Chuo line

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The Inokashira Flower Line in Spring

1701F of the EMU Keio 1000 series travels on the Inokashira line

It is the rainy season in Tokyo. On June 7th, the Japan Meteorological Agency announced that this year's rainy season had begun in Tokyo. From early June to mid-July, the Tokyo metropolitan area has a hot and humid rainy season called Tsuyu. Before starting the summer railway travel season, I am going to show you my unreleased spring railway photos today.

The Keio-Inokashira line is famous for its beautiful flowers blooming on the sides of the track. For instance, hydrangeas are reputable in early summer near Meidaimae station. Cherry blossoms are also beautiful in spring near Takaido Station. There is more. Canola flowers are brilliant in early spring near Shin-Daita station. Passengers can enjoy that numerous yellow flowers are blooming beautifully in the sunshine on the embankments of the railway tracks. It also functions to prevent slope failure.

Incidentally, The Inokashira Line is Keio's short commuter route connecting Shibuya and Kichijoji. Its line length is 12.7 kilometers. The track is 1,067 mm-size double. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. Although the Inokashira Line is a short route, the express train is frequently operated for flying passengers. It connects with a local train at Eifukucho station, which is located on the middle point of the line. The EMU 1000 series is the sole model on the line. The commercial operation of this EMU started in 1996, as the first 20-meters long body train on the line. One set consists of 5 cars with a VVVF (variable frequency drive) control system.

1724F of the EMU Keio 1000 series travels on the Inokashira line

Monday, 24 June 2019

EMU Seibu 101 Series, "Ohmi Railway's Umikaze" Color

251F of the EMU Seibu 101 series arrives at Musashi-Sakai terminal

Trains painted with other operators' colors have been in vogue in Japan. For instance, Keikyu 2103F of the EMU 2100 series and Tobu 208F of the 200 series, which were painted with the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) colors in accordance with friendship and cooperation agreements between Keikyu/Tobu and TRA. Seibu 9003F of the EMU 9000 series, called the Lucky Red Train, is painted with Keikyu colors; meanwhile, Keikyu 1057F of the EMU 1000 series, called Happy Yellow Train, is painted with Seibu colors as a symbol of the friendship between two companies. Today, I am going to show you the other example.

On June 14th, 2018, Seibu launched "Ohmi Railway's Umikaze color" train, 251F of the EMU 101 series. Ohmi Railway is a Seibu Group company in Shiga Prefecture in the western part of Japan. Ohmi recently had its 120th anniversary; meanwhile, the Seibu Tamagawa line had its 100th anniversary, so it is a time to celebrate two Seibu Group companies' anniversaries. What's Umikaze? It is a nickname of Ohmi Railway's train launched in 2013. Ohmi painted Umikaze train with a light blue color, which was adopted from the image of the wind on Lake Biwa near Ohmi Railway.

Incidentally, the EMU Seibu 101 series was launched in 1979. A total of 4 sets, 16 units, have been operated on the Tamagawa Line since 2010. Different from the other Seibu trains, its specification is rather old as DC motors with a rheostatic control system are still used.

251F of the EMU Seibu 101 series stands at Musashi-Sakai terminal

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

The 08 Series for the 8th Anniverasary

EMU Tokyo Metro 08 series arrives at Aobadai station on the Tokyu line in the rain

Thank you for visiting my blog, Tokyo Railway Labyrinth. I have been introducing you to labyrinthine railway routes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since 2011. Tokyo Railway Labyrinth had its eighth anniversary. I thank all my blog readers for visiting this website and sending comments. Sorry, I can't respond to you now, as I am very busy at work. Currently, I try to update my blog once every three days, but it is very difficult.

In commemoration of the eighth anniversary, I am going to show you a train with number "8" in the name. The EMU Tokyo Metro 08 series is a representative train on the subway, Hanzomon line. It was launched in 2003 in preparation for direct operation between the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon and the Tobu Isesaki lines. A total of 6 sets, 60 units, were built by Nippon Sharyo. The octagonal black face with a purple stripe is a good accent of this train. For your information, purple is the line color of the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line. The greatest feature of the 08 series is its body. It has a double skin structure, which is similar to that of corrugated paper. Thanks to this structure, the body of the 08 series is strong; nevertheless, it doesn't have pillars.

Incidentally, Tokyo Metro recently made a press release announcing that the new model, EMU 18000 series, will be introduced onto the Hanzomon line in 2021. It will replace the old model 8000 series. Time moves quickly.

EMU Tokyo Metro 08 series stands at Aobadai station on the Tokyu line

Saturday, 15 June 2019

EMU E231-500 Series: Large Force on the Sobu Line

Set A515 of the JR East E231-500 series travels on the Chuo-Sobu local line

Replacing the EMU 209-500 series, one group of trains has been growing to become a large force on the JR East Sobu line (or the Chuo-Sobu local line). It is the EMU E231-500 series, which has moved from the Yamanote line.

The E231-500 series was launched in 2004 in response to JR East's new train controlling system, namely the Digital Automatic Train Control (D-ATC). A total of 52 sets, 572 cars, were built by JR East Niitsu Factory. The E231-500 series once became a major fleet on the Yamanote line; however, the world of the E231-500 series did not continue long. A new model, the E235 series, has recently been increasing in numbers on the Yamanote line. As a result, the old E231-500 series has been forced to move to the other line. The new address is the Sobu line. A total of 37 sets, 370 units, of the E231-500 series have already been transferred. After moving, the color of the body stripes was changed from light green (the Yamanote line color) to yellow (the Sobu line color).

Incidentally, a train on the Yamanote line consists of 11-cars, while that on the Sobu line is composed of 10-cars. Where did the one car go? The gimmick is as follows. One surplus car (Type SaHa E231-4600) was modified and coupled to the new model, the E235 series. The modified car (new name: Type SaHa E235-4600) has rain gutters, which extend out from the outside plate, so you can easily discern it from the new car.

Set A542 of the JR East E231-500 series arrives at Nakano station

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The 100th Anniversary of Izu-Hakone Railway

5503F of the EMU Izu-Hakone 5000 series arrives at Fuji-film-mae station

Izu-Hakone Railway is a local private company in Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures. The route consists of two separate lines, namely the Sunzu and the Daiyuzan lines. The Sunzu line was initially opened between Mishima-machi (present Mishima-tamachi) and Nanjo (present Izu-Nagaoka) stations in 1898; meanwhile, the Daiyuzan line was opened between Odawara and Daiyuzan in 1925. So, this is the 121st year of the Sunzu line and the 94th year of the Daiyuzan line.

Apart from the history of the Sunzu and the Daiyuzan line, the company regulates that the establishment date of Izu-Hakone Railway was November 5th, 1917. It was the time when Zuso Railway (present Izu-Hakone Railway) Company acquired the railway and the power industries from Fuji Suiryoku Denki (Fuji Hydroelectricity) Company. So, this is the 102nd year of Izu-Hakone Railway.

The company has been celebrating "the 100th year anniversary" since 2017. The anniversary events still continue. What a happy company it is! For instance, a train (5003F of the EMU 5000 series) on the Daiyuzan line still displays the 100th anniversary plate on the front. It is OK, no problem at all for rail fans.

Incidentally, the EMU 5000 series is the main fleet on the Daiyuzan line. It was launched in 1984 replacing old models. A total of 7 sets, 21 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo. Only the 1st set (5001F) is steel, while the other 6 sets are stainless-steel. The technical specifications are a bit old. It still has a traditional rheostatic control system.

5503F of the EMU Izu-Hakone 5000 series arrives at Sagami-Numata station

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

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Good-bye to the Sobu 209-500 Series Trains

Set C505 of the EMU JR East 209-500 series stands at Ochanomizu sta. (December, 2015)

Metropolitans are busy every day. They go to their offices or schools every day taking commuter lines, but they don't realize that the train has undergone changes. On April 19th, one group of the trains quietly disappeared from the track in Tokyo. It was the EMU 209-500 series on the JR East Sobu line.

The EMU 209-500 series is JR East's first commuter train with widened bodies. It was launched on the Sobu line (the Sobu-Chuo local line) in 1999. A total of 17 sets, 170 units, were operated on the line, but most of the 209-500 series trains had already retired from the Sobu line, and moved to the other local lines to spend their second lives. Eventually, the final set was retired from the Sobu line on April 19th.

Who is the successor of the 209-500 series? It is the E231-500 series from the Yamanote line. It is a bit of a complicated story. In 2015, JR East launched a new commuter train model, the E235 series, on the Yamanote line. The introduction of the new model caused JR East to make train transfers one after another. Firstly, the E231-500 series on the Yamanote line was transferred to the Sobu line. Secondly, the EMU 209-500 series on the Sobu line was transferred to the Musashino and the other local lines. Finally, the 205 series on the Musashino line will be transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia to spend a second life.

The volkerwanderung continues for the time being.

Close up of set C505 of the EMU JR East 209-500 series (December, 2015)

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Preserved Diesel Railcar in Kyoto Prefecture

A diesel railcar, KiHaYuNi 51 is exhibited in Kaya Steam Locomotive Square

Following the precious steam locomotive, I am going to continue to show you a unique exhibition in Kaya Steam Locomotive Square in Kyoto Prefecture.

KiHaYuNi 51 is an old railcar launched in 1936. It was originally a gasoline-powered vehicle built for Geibi Railway (present JR West Geibi line) in Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures. The manufacturer was Nippon Sharyo. It is 17.05 meters long, 2.72 meters wide, and it weighs 21.5 tons.

The original name was KiHaYuNi 18 of the Class 40900. KiHaYuNi means that it's a railcar, which has an internal combustion engine, and consists of a third-class cabin, a mailroom and a baggage room. It is multi-purpose. After being operated on Geibi Railway, this railcar was moved to Funaki Railway in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1952. In this period, it was modified from a gasoline-powered vehicle to a diesel railcar, and renamed KiHaNi 51. It was, then, moved again to Kaya Railway in 1962, and modified again to a simple passenger car named KiHa 51. Eventually, KiHa 51 was retired from the track in 1985. In 1994, it was restored to the original state for exhibition, and named KiHaYuNi 51. It is a complicated history, isn't it?

Apart from its function as a multi-purpose railcar, KiHaYuNi 51 has another uniqueness in its appearance. You can see a bucket on the front of the railcar. It was used for transportation of perishable food such as fish and vegetables. KiHaYuNi 51 was a unique railcar for local people's everyday life.

Currently, KiHaYuNi 51 is exhibited at the right hand side of the turntable.

Interior of KiHaYuNi 51

Official information about Kaya Steam Locomotive Square:

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The 130th Anniversary of the Chuo Line

The poster train (set T24 of the EMU JR East E233 series) arrives at Kunitachi station

The Chuo line (or the Chuo main line) is one of the Japanese trunk railway routes penetrating steep mountains on Honshu Island (the main land of Japan). Connecting Tokyo and Nagoya, its total length is 396.6 kilometers. The eastern part of the route is a busy commuter line, where 10-car commuter trains are continuously operated.

The origin of the Chuo line was very old. It was initially opened between Shinjuku and Tachikawa stations (27.2 kilometers) by Kobu Railway on April 11th, 1889. So, this year is the 130th anniversary of the Chuo line. JR East Hachioji Branch Office, which is one of the train operators on the line, is conducting various anniversary events. For example, they launched a special poster train, set T27 of the EMU E233 series, on April 6th celebrating the 130th anniversary. Set T27 train has simple orange colored bodies, which are similar with those of a former Chuo line train, namely the EMU 201 series. The 130th anniversary logo, which was designed by the railway employees of Tachikawa station, are also displayed on the bodies of set T27 train.

Along with the poster train, JR East Hachioji Branch Office gives passengers special gifts. For instance, they win products on the Chuo line by lottery. The wines produced near Katsunuma-budokyo station are popular prizes. Rail-fans and kids could enjoy a Chuo line train driving experience using the simulator at Tachikawa station on April 13th.

The Chuo line era is going to continue.

Side view of the 13th anniversary poster train

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Flower Road on the Tohoku Main Line

Set K-18 of the EMU JR East E231 series arrives at Higashi-Washinomiya station

It is still May, but it is just like mid-summer in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The maximum daytime temperature is often over 30 degrees Celsius. Is it an effect of greenhouse gasses?

I recently visited a flower road along the Kasai irrigation canal in Kuki City, Saitama Prefecture with my family. It is a 10-kilometer-long footpath with numerous beautiful blossoms. Cosmoses are planted in autumn, and poppies are seen in spring. When we visited there, it was fine weather and the poppies were in full bloom... very colorful and unique. 

On the way back home, I enjoyed taking train photos at JR East Higashi-Washinomiya station on the Tohoku main line for a short time. I was able to shoot the EMU E231 series, which belongs to Oyama rail yard. It was a 15-car train consisting of a 10-car main set and a 5-car additional set. The E231 series is an EMU widely operated in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It was launched in 2000 on the Tohoku main line. Different from the E231 series on the Yamanote and Musashino lines, the E231 series on the Tohoku main line has 6 doors per unit. The bodies are stainless-steel, with orange and green-colored stripes. More importantly, it has two double-decker Green Cars (first class cars). The extra cost for sitting in the Green Cars was 570 yen between Shinjuku and Higashi Washinomiya stations.

The Tohoku main line in spring time is a pleasant route.

Flower Road near Higashi-Washinomiya station on the Tohoku main line

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Preserved Steam Locomotive in Kyoto Prefecture

Number 2 SL is exhibited at Kaya Steam Locomotive Square in Kyoto Prefecture

Kaya Railway was a small local private railway in Kyoto Prefecture. It was unfortunately abolished in 1985 due to a decreasing number of passengers, but part of the facility was retained as a museum named Kaya Steam Locomotive Square and is located in Yosano Town of Kyoto Prefecture, about 650 kilometers west of Tokyo.

The most precious exhibition in the museum is the number 2 steam locomotive (SL), which was built by Robert Stephenson & Company in 1873. As you know, Stephenson & Company was the first locomotive builder in the world, established in 1823. The original number of this SL was 12 of the Imperial Government Railway of Japan, but it was changed to number 123 of Class 120 in 1912. It was then renamed number 2 when Kaya Railway purchased this SL from Hikami Railway in Shimane Prefecture. Number 2 SL was operated until 1956 on the track.

Number 2 SL is a 2-4-0 type (Whyte notation) small tank locomotive. It is 8.225 meters long, 2.248 meters wide, and it weighs 23 tons. The driving wheel diameter is 1,346 millimeters, and the gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. It is preserved in good condition under a special roof. 

On June 9th, 2005, number 2 SL was designated as a National Important Cultural Property. Along with Class 150 SL in the Railway Museum, it is one of Japan's oldest SLs imported from the UK. I hope that this precious SL will be maintained in good condition.

Side view of number 2 SL

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Old Castle City in Kyoto Prefecture

Set F2 of the EMU JR West 223-5500 series stands at Fukuchiyama station

Fukuchiyama is an old city located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, some 600km west of Tokyo. As of the year 2018, it has a population of 77,000. Fukuchiyama has grown as the castle city since the 16th century. We can see the beautiful castle tower in the center of the city. The present building was reconstructed in 1985, but keeps its medieval style. It is also known as a gorgeous city viewing spot among local people, as it was constructed at the summit of a small hill.

To get to Fukuchiyama castle, the nearest railway station is Fukuchiyama on the JR West and Kyoto Tango Railway lines. When I visited there, I came across the EMU JR West 223-5500 series on the JR West Fukuchiyama line. It is a 2-car train for operating without conductors. A total of 16 sets, 32 cars, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo in 2008. The 223-5500 series is composed of 2 cars... one motor car (KuMoHa 223-5500) and one trailer (KuHa 223-5500). The electric control system is IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive). You can see a special pantograph on the roof for deforesting the trolley wire. For distinguishing the 223-5500 series from the other groups of the 223 series, look at the gangway on the front of the train. The 223-5500 series only has an orange colored stripe on it.

It is fun for me to perceive the fine difference among the EMU 223 series trains as a trainspotter.

Fukuchiyama castle near Fukuchiyama station

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Old Express Train in Kyoto Prefecture

DMU KTR001 series travels on the Miyatoyo line, Kyoto Tango Railway

The northern part of Kyoto Prefecture is one of my favorite places. Different from the city of Kyoto, it is idyllically calm and peaceful.

Where is the recommended place to visit? My favorite spot is Hanare-ko (Lake Hanare) in Kyotango City. It is just a tiny lake surrounded by a residential area, but it is a nice place for strolling. Specifically, I like a small peninsula named Hanare-yama (Mt. Hanare) on the southern side of the lake. It is a natural mountain with an ancient mounded tomb at the summit. The full-blown cherries in spring are famous for local people.

To get to this cozy spot, the nearest railway station is Amino on the Kyoto Tango Railway. It takes about two hours from Kyoto by limited express trains, Hashidate, Konotori (stork) or Tango-relay. Usually, the DMU KTR8000 series is operated for Tango-relay, but the DMU KTR001 series was temporally commissioned when I visited there last month. It was lucky for nostalgic train lovers like me. 

The DMU KTR001 series was launched in 1990. A total of 2 sets, 6 units, are built by Fuji Heavy Industries. Currently, one set (set number 2) is still operated on the track as a temporally replacement train. The KTR001 series is a high-decker train having beautiful "champagne gold" bodies. The maximum speed is 120 kilometers per hour. One set has 6 diesel engines. Although the scars are conspicuous on the bodies, the old express train still works on the track in Kyoto Prefecture.

Hanare-ko (Lake Hanare) near Amino station, Kyoto Tango Railway

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Indonesian Railway Update in 2019

Set Ts11 of the MRTJ in Jakarta, Indonesia
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

I have received news from an Indonesian rail fan. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent photos.

The first photo: The first Indonesian subway line was opened in Jakarta on March 24th. It is the North-south line of Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRTJ). Connecting Bundaran H.I. in the downtown area and Lebak Bulus in the southern suburb, the operating length is 15.5 kilometers. The track is double. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The train control system is CBCT provided by Nippon Signal. The rolling stock was imported from Japan. A total of 16 sets, 96 units, were built by Nippon Sharyo. The car numbers are K1 18 07 to K1 18 96 according to the Indonesian Railway Act. The electric control system of the trains is IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive). 

The second photo: I am going to show you the current appearance of the 8618F of the EMU ex-Tokyu 8500 series. 8618F was operated on the Tokyu line in Japan from 1976 to 2008. After retirement from Tokyu, 8618F was then moved to Jakarta to spend its second life. It was a 10-car train in Japan, but it currently grew longer... 12 cars in Jakarta. The body stripes were also changed to red and yellow, which are the standard color of the local train operator, Kereta Commuter Indonesia. The second life is more busy than that of the Tokyu era.

8618F of the EMU KCI 8500 series (ex-Tokyu 8500 series) arrives at Depok station
(Photo: Faris Fadhli) 

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Spring Sightseeing Season on the Ito Line

Set Ne012 of the EMU JR East E259 series, Marine Express Odoriko, arrives at Ito station

It is a spring sightseeing season in the Tokyo metropolitan area. We can see the beautiful seasonal blossoms here and there. They are fully blown in open fields, hills, public parks and private gardens.

I recently visited Komuroyama Park in Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture with my family. Komuroyama is a small volcano and famous for its azalea blossoms. It was in peak blooming season and a flower festival was being held in the park. We saw that a traditional drumming team from a local high school was giving visitors a powerful performance. The park was filled with a rhythmic beat by the boys and girls.

To get to this spring paradise, the JR East Ito line and the connecting bus service was convenient. It took about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo to Ito by a limited express train. Most of the trains are directly operated onto the local private railway, the Izukyu line.

On my way back home, I came across JR East's limited express train, "Marine Express Odoriko", at Ito station. The EMU E259 series was commissioned for this train. As you may know, the E259 series is normally operated as an airport access train named "Narita Express" between the downtown Tokyo area and the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita Airport), but it is also operated between Tokyo and Izukyu-Shimoda via Ito in peak vacation seasons. You can see a special emblem for Marine Express Odoriko on the front of the train.

The spring sightseeing season continues.

Traditional drumming performance by Hiryu High School Team at Komuroyama Park