Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Hand-cut Tunnel in Futtsu City

EMU JR East 209-2100 series passes through Minatogawa bridge on the Uchibo line

Futtsu is a local city in Chiba Prefecture about 90 kilometers southeast of Tokyo. It is situated on the western side of Boso Peninsula facing Tokyo Bay. I recently visited there with my family on a weekend.

There is a rising sightseeing spot in Futtsu City. It is a hand-cut tunnel named Torozaka-daishi Tunnel located in the Nokogiriyama area. This strange shaped hand-cut tunnel was constructed as an approach to Torozaka-daishi temple by local people more than 100 years ago. The tunnel length is about 100 meters; while the height is about 10 meters. We can see dipping geological beds on both sides of the tunnel walls.

According to the local people, Torozaka-daishi Tunnel is a "power spot", which is a location thought to be flowing with mystical energy. A person who visits a power spot will obtain energy from the land. For your information, "power spot" may be an English word coined in Japan. I don't know exactly why Torozaka-daishi Tunnel is thought to be a power spot, but a cool breeze that passes through the tunnel may give energy to the visitors at least.

To get to this power spot, the closest railway station is Kazusa-Minato on the JR East Uchibo line. On the way back home, I could take a photo of a local train, the EMU 209-2100 series, crossing Minatogawa bridge backed by the blue sky and Tokyo Bay.

We got energy from Futtsu city on the weekend.

Torozaka-daishi Tunnel near Kazusa-Minato station on the JR East Uchibo line

Official information about the EMU JR East 209 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 27 January 2019

EMU Sotetsu 10000 Series: Update

EMU Sotetsu 10000 series arrives at Izumi-chuo station on the Sotetsu-Izumino line

Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) is known as a Yokohama-based private railway company. Starting from Yokohama, the main city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Sotetsu has a 35.9 kilometer-long railway network. The track is double. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters.

The EMU 10000 series is one of Sotetsu's main fleets. It was launched in 2002 to replace old models such as the 2100 and the 6000 series. A total of 8 sets, 70 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo (present J-TREC) and JR East Niitsu factory. To reduce the manufacturing cost, the 10000 series has common specifications with those of JR East's EMU E231 series. For instance, the interior of the 10000 series is basically the same as that of the E231 series. TIMS (Train Information Management System) is introduced in both the 10000 and the E231 series. Furthermore, the electric control system is common between two models, namely IPM-IGBT VVVF (variable-frequency drive) inverter system.

The one set of the 10000 series train is composed of 10 or 8 cars. MT ratio (the ratio of the number of motorcars to the trailers) is 1 (5M5T or 4M4T). They are operated on both the main line (Yokohama - Ebina) and the Izumino line (Futamatagawa - Shonandai).

What's new with this commuter train? Only minor changes were conducted such as the change of body stripe colors and setting up of the women-only passenger cars. The EMU Sotetsu 10000 series will continue to be a major fleet of the Sotetsu rolling stock.

EMU Sotetsu 10000 series leaves Izumi-chuo station on the Sotetsu-Izumino line

Official information about the Sotetsu trains (in Japanese):

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Preserved Diesel Rail Car on Kyushu Island

An old diesel rail car KiHa 07 41 is preserved in Kyushu Railway History Museum

I am going to show you a must-see exhibition in the Kyushu Railway History Museum today.

Unit 41 of the KiHa 07 series (hereafter KiHa 07 41) is an old diesel rail car preserved in the museum. It was built for urban commuter transportation on the Japanese Government Railways (JGR) in 1937 by Nippon Sharyo. It has a 19-meter long body, which was the largest rail car in Japan at that time. 

KiHa 07 41 was originally named unit 42055 of the KiHa 42000 series and had a petrol engine, type GMH17. After WWII, it was modified to a rail car with a diesel engine, type DMH17, by the Japanese National Railways (JNR). The unit number had also been changed to 42540 of the KiHa 42500 series in 1951. It was, then, renamed again to KiHa 07 41 in 1957 by JNR.

KiHa 07 41 retired from the track in 1969 after being operated on the JNR Miyahara line on Kyushu island. Its rounded front mask and large headlight are elegant and my favorite. Its two-toned body of vermilion and beige colors is also beautiful. A total of 73 units of the KiHa 07 series were built, but only three units including KiHa 07 41 are preserved.

For your information, Kyushu Railway History Museum is located adjacent to JR Kyushu Mojiko station. We can see the historical rolling stock and ex-Kyushu Railway main office there. Kyushu Railway History Museum is a must-see spot for rail fans.

A destination board of KiHa 07 41

Monday, 21 January 2019

Ex-Handcar Train in Yugawara Town

Replica of the handcar in Yugawara Town

Yugawara is the southwesternmost town in Kanagawa Prefecture about 100 kilometers west of Tokyo. This town is famous for its mild climate and assorted hot springs; however, Yugawara historically had been an isolated place, because it was surrounded by steep mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The first public transportation was opened as a handcar railway in 1895. It was Zusoh Handcar Railway constructed by local people. Connecting Yoshihama in Yugawara Town and Odawara City, its route length was 10.4 kilometers. The gauge size was 610 mm. The handcars made six round trips a day. It took four hours from Odawara to Yoshihama.

We can see a replica of the handcar on the side of a street in Yugawara Town. The handcar was a lovely six-seater, which is similar with that of the ex-Taishaku Handcar Railway in Tokyo. Two or three operators pushed the car from behind. Pushing the handcar must have been hard work especially on an upward slope. In 1907, Zusoh Handcar Railway was changed to Atami Railway, and was renewed as a steam railway. The gauge size was also changed from 610 to 762 millimeters.

Currently, those classic railways had already been abolished and modern railway is operated in Yugawara Town. It is JR East's Tokaido main line. It takes only 16 minutes from Odawara to Yugawara. Looking at a modern freight train on the Tokaido main line, I thought of a long lapse of time in Yugawara Town.

A freight train pulled by the EL EF66 travels on the Tokaido main line in Yugawara Town

Friday, 18 January 2019

Countdown to the Last Run: EMU Keikyu 800 Series

Set 824 of the EMU Keikyu 800 series (December, 2017)

It is mid-winter in Japan. The maximum daytime temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. Although it is very cold, I tried to find an advent of spring in the suburban area. My destination was Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture. I visited Nagai-uminote Park near Misaki-guchi station on the Keikyu line. There was a fully blooming vast canola field. Its yellow flowers were very vivid backed by the blue sky and snow-capped Mt. Fuji.

On my way back home, I came across an old EMU 800 series. The 800 series is the longest serving active model on the Keikyu line. It was launched in 1978 for speeding up of local (all-stations) trains. A total of 27 sets, 132 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Currently, 4 sets, 24 units are still being operated on the track. I show you a photo of set 824, which retired last year.

On May 29th, 2018, Keikyu made a press release announcing that additional 42 units of the new EMU 1000 series will be commissioned by March 2019. It suggests that the 800 series will be retired soon. The problem of the EMU 800 series is its passenger doors. The 800 series has 8 doors per unit; meanwhile, Keikyu's other models have 6 doors per unit. It means that the 800 series places obstacle for installation of automatic platform gates to prevent passengers from falling off the platform edge. 

Sayonara (goodbye) and arigato (thank you) to the 800 series. I will never forget you through the years.

Canola field near Misaki-guchi station on the Keikyu line

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

New Model on the Toei-Asakusa Line

EMU Toei 5500 series arrives at Kohjiya station on the Keikyu-kuko line

When I visited "Nanatsuji (seven crossroads)" on the Keikyu-Kuko line, I came across a new model at Kohjiya station. It was the EMU Toei 5500 series directly operated from the Toei-Asakusa line.

The 5500 series was launched on June 30th, 2017 to replace the old model, EMU 5300 series. Currently, a total of 7 sets, 56 units are operated on the Toei-Asakusa, Keikyu, Keisei and Hokuso Railway. Toei (the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) plans to introduce a total of 27 sets, 216 units by 2021 replacing all the 5300 series trains.

The most distinctive feature of the 5500 series is its face. This unique front design was taken from a Japanese traditional performance art, Kabuki, which is a drama performance with a history of over four hundred years. Its stage makeup is very vivid. The face of the 5500 series was taken from this unique makeup. For your information, Kabuki Theater is located just above Higashi-Ginza station on the Toei-Asakusa line.

With regard to the technical specifications of the 5500 series, several advanced technologies are adopted such as a full SiC-MOSFET VVVF (variable frequency drive) inverter electric control system. The body of the 5500 series is 18 meters long, which is the same as the other Toei-Asakusa line trains.

The old Kabuki train on the Tokyu line (the EMU 7600 series) was retired from the track in 2015, but the new Kabuki train on the Toei-Asakusa line has just debuted. It is good news for rail fans.

EMU Toei 5500 series leves Kohjiya station on the Keikyu-kuko line

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Unique Funicular at Miyagase Dam

Unit 2 of the Miyagase Dam Incline

I am going to show you a unique funicular today. I recently visited Miyagase Dam in Kanagawa Prefecture. The purpose of my visit was to see and ride "Miyagase Dam Incline".

Miyagase Dam Incline is a means of transport for visitors to climb up the dam crest. It was originally used for constructing the dam but was modified to a funicular for sightseeing later. Connecting Dam-shita and Dam-ue stations, its route length is 216 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 121 meters and the maximum inclination of the route is 35 degrees.

It is a bucket-type funicular and operated by an inverter electric system. Different from the standard funiculars, the track is double. It means that there is no station in the middle of a single-track for train meet. The operation interval is 6 to 10 minutes. The operation speed is 60 meters/minute. It takes about 4 minutes to get from Dam-shita to Dam-ue station. The present vehicles, named car number 1 and 2, were built by Tokyo Sakudo in 1998. Each car has a 5.1 meter-long and a 2.6 meter-wide body and can accommodate 46 passengers. The operation is driver-less. To be exact, this transportation system is NOT classified as a funicular under the Railway Business Act.

Incidentally, Miyagase Dam is one of the major dams in the region. It is a multipurpose concrete gravity dam of 156 meters in height. The water is supplied to many cities and towns in Kanagawa Prefecture including Yokohama.

Entrance of Miyagase Dam

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Seven Crossroads on the Keikyu Line

EMU Keikyu 1500 series arrives at Kohjiya station on the Kuko (airport) line

Do you know any five crossroads in your city or area? Maybe yes. Then, do you have six crossroads in your city or area? If yes, then, do you have seven crossroads in your city or area?

In Tokyo, there is a seven crossroads in Ohta Ward. It is a scarcely known spot among Tokyoites, but famous for local people named "Nanatsuji (seven crossroads)". I visited this local spot on New Year's Eve as I could make time. Surprisingly, there was no traffic light at the crossroads, although cars and bicycles continuously passed through. According to the local people, they haven't seen a traffic accident, because drivers try to pass through safely, and give way to others on the crossroads. It is a good story, isn't it?

To see this rare spot, the nearest railway station was Kohjiya on the Keikyu-kuko (Keikyu-airport) line. Connecting Keikyu-Kamata and Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal, its total length is 6.5 kilometers. The track is double. The gauge size is 1,435 millimeters. On the way back home, I enjoyed shooting trains at the end of the platform. Many kinds of trains bound for Haneda Airport frequently came into Kohjiya station.

My favorite one was the old model EMU Keikyu 1500 series from Shin-Zushi station. It has vivid red colored bodies with a white colored stripe. It was beautiful in the sunlight. The seven crossroads and taking a photograph of the old train, it was a good New Year's Eve in 2018.

Nanatsuji (seven crossroads) near Kohjiya station on the Keikyu-kuko (airport) line

Sunday, 6 January 2019

2019 New Year Scene on the Keio-Inokashira Line

1753F of the EMU Keio 1000 series arrives at Eifukucho station on the Inokashira line

On New Year's Day, I visited my mother, who lives on the Keio-Inokashira line. On the way to her home, I came across a train that had a special round plate celebrating New Year on the front. It was 1753F of the EMU 1000 series. The 1000 series is the sole model on the Inokashira line. Replacing the old EMU 3000 series, the 1000 series was launched as the first long (20 meters) body train on the line. It is composed of 5 cars with a VVVF (Variable Voltage and Variable Frequency) electric control system. Each train set has different colors for the front mask and the lines on the side.

What was the new with this model? This is the first renewal of the first batch of trains since they began operation over twenty years ago. In particular, car number 3 was modified from a trailer to a motorcar to prevent racing on a snow day, which has thus changed the composition of these first batch sets from 2 motorcars and 3 trailers (2M3T) to 3 motorcars and 2 trailers (3M2T). In addition, traction motors and the VVVF inverter system have also been changed to high efficiency ones. Currently, 8 of these 10 first batch sets have completed their renewal.

In the meantime, I received news about the Izukyu electric car 103, which I posted on December 29th in this blog. According to Izukyu, electric car 103 will be retired in July this year due to its deterioration. That's a shame.

A special round plate celebrating New Year

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Happy Yellow Train on the Keikyu Line: Update

Set 1057 of the EMU Keikyu 1000 series, "Happy Yellow Train", travels on the Hokuso line

Happy New Year! The year 2019 has begun. At the opening of New Year, I am going to show you a train, which brings us happiness.

Keikyu, which is one of the major private railways in Tokyo, recently decided to continue operating their "Happy Yellow Train" for an additional three years. What is the Happy Yellow Train? In Tokyo, it is said that a person who rides a yellow colored train will obtain happiness. It's probably because yellow colored trains are rare in this city.

In 2011, Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) and Tokyu jointly launched a special campaign to boost passenger numbers by using their rare yellow colored rolling stock. These two operators recommended riding yellow colored trains to obtain happiness. Keikyu then launched the Happy Yellow Train using their EMU, set 1057 of the 1000 series. Set 1057 was built by Tokyu Sharyo in 2005. Its original body color was red, but Keikyu changed it to yellow in 2014. As you know, Keikyu's corporate color is red. Most of the Keikyu trains are known to be red, so the Happy Yellow Train is rare and became popular among passengers. Keikyu had planned to terminate the operation of Happy Yellow Train in 2017, but they decided to extend it until 2020.

By the way, Keikyu slightly changed the coloring design of the Happy Yellow Train in 2017. All the doors were painted yellow, whereas they were a silver color before. Although I am very busy working, my trainspotting activity will continue this year.

New coloring design of the Keikyu Happy Yellow Train, DeHa 1057 of the EMU 1000 series