Sunday, 29 December 2019

Final Chapter of the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 Series

Set 20 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 series travels on the Tokyu Toyoko line

On November 1st, Tokyo Metro made a press release announcing that a new model, the EMU 17000 series, will be launched in the second half of the fiscal year (FY) 2020. At the same time, the company suggests that the existing EMU 7000 series will be retired from the track by the end of the FY 2022 (March, 2023).

The EMU 7000 series debuted in 1974 when the subway Yurakucho line was partially opened between Ikebukuro and Ginza-icchome stations. A total of 34 sets, 340 units were built by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo over 15 years. The futuristic aluminum alloy body with an odd-shaped front mask is similar with that of the 6000 series on the Chiyoda line and the 8000 series on the Hanzomon line. Regarding the technical specifications, a state-of-the-art AVF (automatic variable field) chopper electric control system was applied to save electric power consumption.

Currently, 21 sets, 150 units are still operated on the Yurakucho and the Fukutoshin lines. On the other hand, 4 sets, 40 units have been transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia (PT. Kereta Api Indonesia), as I posted before. From the middle of 1990's, renovation started. For instance, AVF chopper electric control systems have been replaced by an IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) system thanks to technological progress.

We still have three more years before the final run of the 7000 series, but please hurry up and take their photos before it is too late.

Set 31 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 series travels on the Tokyu Toyoko line

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Hiro: A Legendary Locomotive

Percy (left, Class C12) and Hiro (right, Class 9600) are displayed at Senzu station yard

Along with Thomas, Ooigawa Railway has various rolling stock, which appear in the story of "Thomas and Friends". One of the popular locomotives is Hiro.

Hiro is a black colored legendary locomotive. He appears in the fourth story (long version). In the story, Hiro came from Japan, and pulled freight trains on the main line of Sodor Railway. His unit number was 51. On the Ooigawa Railway, unit number 49616 of the steam locomotive Class 9600 is acting Hiro. Unit 49616 was built by Kawasaki Zosen-jo (present Kawasaki Heavy Industries) in 1920. It has leading wheels and a tender (2-8-0 in Whyte notation). Different from Thomas, Hiro is not operated on the track of Ooigawa Railway. It is just exhibited in the Senzu station yard. What for? It is for Thomas train passengers. Hiro is Thomas's friend. He waits for and welcomes Thomas and his train passengers at Senzu station. Boarding on Thomas train, passengers are going to meet with Hiro. It is a good tour story, isn't it?

Incidentally, Ooigawa Railway also has James (C56 44), Percy (C12 208), Rusty (DB9 of Class DB1), Bertie (bus), Flynn (fire engine), Winston (automobile) and so on. Currently, a half of the revenue of Ooigawa Railway is from Thomas train and related business. Some traditional rail-fans dislike the modified locomotives; however, I think that the stabilization of management is essential for a local railway company. I hope that Thomas and Friends remain popular among Japanese children for a long time.

Side view of Hiro, unit 49616 of the steam locomotive Class 9600

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Good-bye to the EMU 40 Series

EMU Toei 40 series is displayed at East Garden station on the Ueno Zoo monorail line

On October 30th, the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government suspended the operation of the Ueno Zoo monorail line due to aging of the rolling stock.

Ueno Zoo is Japan's oldest zoo opened in 1882. The Ueno Zoo monorail line was a means of transportation in the zoo. It is Japan's oldest monorail route opened in 1957. Connecting East and West Garden stations, its operating length is only 332 meters. The track was single and the electric system was 600 V DC. Learning from Wuppertaler Schwebebahn in Germany, it was constructed as a suspension monorail line. The vehicle was the 4th generation one called the EMU 40 series. Only one set was built by Nippon Sharyo in 2001, replacing the decrepit 3rd generation train called the EMU 30 series. The 40 series train was composed of two units named 40-1 and 40-2. Two 7.5 kW induction motors and the IGBT-VVVF inverter (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) electric control system were on board.

I hastened to Ueno Zoo last month to say good-bye to the 40 series. It was still displayed at East Garden station. Many rail-fans and children were visiting there. They were worried about the future of the monorail line. I was also one of them, but there was no sense in my worrying, because the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has not decided yet whether to maintain the monorail line or not.

Anyway, I enjoyed the zoo and got back home.

A gorilla meditates on the future of the Ueno Zoo monorail line

Official information about the last run event of  the Ueno Zoo monorail line (in Japanese):

Monday, 16 December 2019

EMU 8900 Series on the Shin-Keisei Line

Set 8918 of the EMU Shin-Keisei 8900 series arrives at Misaki station

I have already uploaded more than 1,200 posts in this blog over an 8-year period. I think that all the existing train models in the Tokyo metropolitan area have already been introduced to you here. Now, wait a minute. I found that I haven't shown you some more models yet.

The EMU Shin-Keisei 8900 series is a commuter train launched in 1993. A total of 24 units were built by Nippon Sharyo. It is the first stainless-steel body train on the Shin-Keisei line. Its body structure is similar with that of the Keisei 3700 series; however, its feature, specifically the "face" of the 8900 series, is different from that of the 3700 series. The 8900 series has an odd-shaped face; meanwhile, the 3700 series has a flat face. I like the face design of the 8900 series better. It isn't unique, but such a design wears well. Regarding the technical specifications, the 8900 series has a GTO-VVVF (Gate Turn-Off thyristor - variable frequency drive) electric control system and 135kW induction motors.

Incidentally, Shin-Keisei (New Keisei) is an affiliate firm of Keisei electric railway company in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo Metropolis. The company recently introduced a new train model named the EMU 80000 series for the first time in 14 years. Its technical specification is the same as Keisei's latest model, namely the 3100 series. I am going to show you the 80000 series in this blog in the near future.

The introduction of trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area is indeed endless.

Set 8918 of the EMU Shin-Keisei 8900 series arrives at Matsudo-shinden station

Official information about the trains on the Shin-Keisei line (in Japanese):
Official information about the EMU Shin-Keisei 8900 series (in Japanese):

Friday, 13 December 2019

Gondola Lift to the Natural Park

Tateshina Ranch Gondola Lift

Shirakaba (white birch) Highland is located in the eastern part of Nagano Prefecture, about 200 km northwest of Tokyo. It is a cool highland more than 1,500 meters above sea level. I visited this superb highland with my family in the early autumn this year.

To get to the most famous sightseeing spot named Gosen-en Natural Park, Tateshina Ranch Gondola Lift, also known as Shuttle Venus, is convenient. Connecting the mountain foot (about 1,530 meters above sea level) and the summit (about 1,830 meters above sea level) stations, its operating length is 1,260 meters. The height difference between the lowest and the highest points of the route is about 300 meters. The mountain foot station is located near beautiful Tateshina Ranch and a mysterious lake named Megami-ko (Lake Venus). It takes about seven minutes from the mountain foot to the summit station.The route was opened in 1985. Six-seater gondolas are operated. The current gondolas were introduced in 2003 as the 2nd generation ones.

After getting off at the summit station, we visited Gosen-en Natural Park. It was a flat highland with a dense forest and a foggy swamp. We enjoyed strolling and found Gypsy rose (Scabiosa japonica) and Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum) blossoms in a bush. Gypsy rose is a rare species, since it is only seen in grasslands of high mountainous areas in Japan. It had about a 4 centimeters across tiny blossom with a light purple color.

There were many pleasures in Shirakaba Highland.

Japanese thistle (left) and Gypsy rose (right)

Monday, 9 December 2019

Suspension Bridge of Dreams on the Ooigawa Railway

EMU Ooigawa Railway (ex-Tokyu) 7200 series travels on the Ooigawa main line

Ooigawa (or Oigawa) is a large river in Shizuoka Prefecture. It flows from the Japanese Southern Alps southward into the Pacific Ocean. The drainage area is famous for its green tea production. Ooigawa is also well known for its various suspension bridges. The most famous one is Yume-no-tsuribashi (suspension bridge of dreams) crossing Sumata River, which is a branch river of the Ooigawa. It is 90 meters long and 8 meters high... not large. How has the bridge made itself famous? The answer is water colors under the bridge. Look at the photo. You can see emerald green or cobalt blue colored water under the bridge. This beautiful color is created by the transparent river water with very few suspended materials. It is nothing but "the suspension bridge of dreams".

To visit Yume-no-tsuribashi, Ooigawa Railway is convenient. It is composed of the 39.5 kilometer-long Ooigawa main line and the 25.5 kilometer-long light railway, namely the Ikawa line. The EMU 7200 series is the standard train on the main line. It was originally operated on the Tokyu Railway in the Tokyo metropolitan area. A total of 53 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo from 1967 to 1972. In 2002, two units of the 7200 series were moved from Tokyu to Towada-kanko Electric Railway. After 12 years, they were transferred again to Ooigawa Railway since Towada-kanko Electric Railway was abolished.

You can meet with both the beautiful suspension bridge and the nostalgic train on the Ooigawa Railway.

Suspension Bridge of Dreams

Friday, 6 December 2019

Thomas Train on the Ooigawa Railway

"Thomas train" travels on the Ooigawa Railway

"Thomas & Friends" is a popular children's television series in the world. It was first broadcasted in the United Kingdom in 1984. In Japan, the television broadcast started in 1990 under the name of "Locomotive Thomas". Needless to say, it became popular rapidly among Japanese children. Catching onto the popularity of this TV series, Fujikyu Railway, for example, opened a theme park, Thomas Land, in 1998. To visit the park, Fujikyu operates a special train named "Thomas Land Train" from Otsuki Terminal.

Ooigawa (or Oigawa) Railway also can't keep their arms crossed in this favorable condition. They launched "Thomas train" in 2014 using a modified steam locomotive (SL) and old passenger coaches. The modified SL namely C11 227 was originally built by Nippon Sharyo in 1942. After being operated on the Japanese National Railways (JNR), it was transferred to Ooigawa Railway in 1975, and modified to Thomas in 2014. Different from "real Thomas", C11 227 has leading wheels and trailing wheels (2-6-4 in Whyte notation). Real Thomas has one dome only; however, C11 227 has both steam and sand domes. Real Thomas pulls only two passenger coaches namely Annie and Clarabel; however, Thomas train on the Ooigawa Railway has 7 passenger coaches (ex-JNR SuHa 43 series). Let's not speak so stiffly. Don't break children's dream!

Thomas train has won great popularity, and is the Saviour for the local private company. It is difficult to get a seat reservation, so, I took photographs from the public road along the track.

Steam locomotive "Thomas (C11 227)"  stands at Senzu station yard

Official information about Thomas train on the Ooigawa Railway:

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Toei Festa 2019: Linear Motor Train

EMU Toei 12-000 series is exhibited at Magome rail yard

Subway trains are annoying for rail photo lovers. One of the problems is its dark environment on the railway track. Many rail fans shoot subway trains only on the surface sections during the daytime instead of on the underground sections, but such surface sections are limited in Tokyo. In the first place, several subway lines do not have surface sections.

The Toei-Ooedo line is no exception. All its routes are underground. To make matters worse, all stations on the Ooedo line currently have automatic platform gates (APG) to prevent passengers from falling off the platform edge. APG is essential for safety, but it is hampering photography. What should I do? The answer is "joining railyard tours"! I could recently shoot the whole feature of the EMU Toei 12-000 series for the Ooedo line under the sunlight when the railyard tour was held at Magome rail yard last month (Toei Festa 2019). The photo captured not only train bodies but also bogies and underfloor devices. Perfect!

Incidentally, linear motor technology is adopted for the train driving system on the Ooedo line. The linear motor is an electric motor that doesn't have a shaft. It moves in a straight line, while a conventional motor has a rotary movement. I could observe the linear motor, which was exhibited in the rail yard factory.

I gained a lot from the railyard tour of Toei Festa 2019. I am truly grateful to Toei to have held this special event.

A linear motor for the EMU 12-000 series is exhibited in Magome rail yard

Official inforation about the Toei Subway:
Official information about the trains on the Toei-Ooedo line (in Japanese):