Sunday, 27 December 2020

Reunion with Super-Hakuto

DMU Chizu Express Railway 7000 series arrives at Kyoto station
I came across a limited express train, Super-Hakuto, at Kyoto station in November. Super-Hakuto is Chizu Express Railway's flagship model named DMU HOT 7000 series. Connecting Tottori, Kurayoshi and Kyoto, it's directly operated onto the JR West lines. The track of Chizu Express Railway is single and non-electrified. The most distinctive feature of this railway is the trans-mountain route penetrating the Chugoku Mountains. In other words, it's a bridge-tunnel railway, which connects cities located on the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea.

In response to this situation, the HOT 7000 series has an excellent curve passage performance. By tilting the train's body using pendular technology, it can keep a high speed on tight curves. The maximum speed of the HOT 7000 series is 130 kilometers per hour. The HOT 7000 series was commissioned in 1994. 34 cars were built by Fuji Heavy Industries. It has blue colored stainless-steel bodies. Each car has two sets of Komatsu's 355 PS per 2,000 rpm diesel engines. The streamlined frontal design is definitely my favorite. A TV camera is equipped in the cockpit and there is a monitor in each cabin to see the frontal view. It's a good passenger service for rail fans like me.

On February 21st, 2019, Chizu Express Railway announced their mid-term business plan, in which the company plans to introduce a new model for Super-Hakuto. According to media, the new model will be launched in 2024. The final chapter of the DMU HOT 7000 series has just begun.

Side view of the HOT 7000 series

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Goodbye to the Sotetsu New 7000 Series

Set 7753 of the Sotetsu New 7000 series arrives at Izumi-chuo station
On November 8th, 2020, Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) held a special event to say goodbye to the EMU New 7000 series in Sagami-Otsuka railyard. Following the 7000 series, the New 7000 series had also finished its role. I couldn't join the farewell event, as the participants were limited and selected by a lottery. It was unfortunate, but it couldn't be helped due to the COVID-19 calamity.

The EMU Sotetsu New 7000 series was commissioned in 1986. A total of 60 cars was built by Hitachi. The appearance of the New 7000 is completely different from the original 7000 series, but the technical specifications of the early 20 cars of the New 7000 series were basically the same as those of the original 7000 series. For instance, they used the traditional right angle cardan systems on the bogies and a rheostatic electric control system with direct current motors.

The late 40 cars of the New 7000 series had different technical specifications. A GTO-VVVF (Gate Turn-Off thyristor-variable frequency drive) electric control system with induction motors was adopted. Mixing the right angle cardan system and the GTO-VVVF electric control system, the late 40 cars generated a unique travelling sound. As a trainspotter, it was fun for me to perceive these unique sounds of the New 7000 series.

The New 7000 series will be replaced by the latest models, namely the 12000 and the 20000 series. Sayonara (goodbye) and arigatou (thank you) to the Sotetsu New 7000 series.

Set 7753 of the EMU Sotetsu New 7000 series leaves Izumi-chuo station

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Powerful Climber to the Holy Mountain: Part 2

Funicular, Nankai N11-N21, travels on the Koya-san Cable line

Following my last post, I'm going to continue to show you the access route to Koya-san in Wakayama Prefecture.

After getting off the limited express train, Koya, at Gokurakubashi terminal, I transferred to the funicular line named Koya-san Cable of Nankai Electric Railway. The Koya-san Cable line was opened in 1930 by Koya-san Electric Railway Company. Connecting Gokurakubashi and Koya-san stations, its route length is 864 meters. The track gauge size is 1,067 mm. The maximum inclination of the route is 29.21 degrees. The height difference between the lowest and the highest points on the route is 328 meters. The operation interval is 10 to 40 minutes depending on the crowd. It takes 5 minutes from Gokurakubashi to Koya-san station.

The vehicles are fourth generation ones. They were built by Nippon Cable in 2019 and the aluminum bodies were made by CWA in Switzerland. One set is composed of two cars named Type N10 and Type N20. Two sets (N11-N21 and N12-N22) are operated on the line. Thanks to the mass transit vehicles, one train can accommodate 211 passengers. It's a powerful climber. The bodies are vivid vermillion-colored and streamlined. On the contrary, the interior is a woody style and subdued. Indirect illumination using LEDs is adopted. I really liked this train.

After arriving at Koya-san terminal, I visited a sub-temple of Koya-san and stayed there with my family. When I saw the traditional garden, I felt refreshed and found my worries were almost nothing. I felt rejuvenated in Koya-san.

Traditional garden in a sub-temple of Koya-san

Official information about the Koya-san Cable line (in Japanese):
Official information about Koya-san by Nankai Electric Railway:

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Powerful Climber to the Holy Mountain

EMU Nankai 30000 series stands at Gokurakubashi station
Koya-san is the common name of Buddhist temple settlement in Wakayama Prefecture, about 620 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. It was opened by a monk, Kukai, in 819 as the headquarters of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located on an 800-meter high mountain, there are 120 temples. Many of which offer lodgings to pilgrims and tourists. Konpon Daito, the Basic Great Pagoda, is the main tower of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism doctrine. It's a 48.5 meters tall vermillion colored beautiful pagoda. Koya-san was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.

To visit this holy mountain, please take the Nankai-Koya line and get off at Gokurakubashi terminal. Nankai is a major private railway company in the Osaka area. The route extends to the southern part of Osaka and northern Wakayama Prefecture. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. The track is double between Shiomibashi and Hashimoto and single between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi.

The EMU 30000 series is the flagship train on the Koya line. It was commissioned in 1983 as limited express train, Koya. Two sets of 4-car trains were built by Tokyu Sharyo. Each set is composed of four motorcars. Trailers are not connected because a powerful EMU is required to climb a maximum inclination of 50 per mil slope on the section between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi. The technical specification of the 30000 series is rather old. It still has a traditional rheostatic electric control system. To be continued...

Konpon Daito (the Basic Great Pagoda)

Official information about the Nankai limited express trains (in Japanese):

Friday, 11 December 2020

Matcha Train on the Kosei Line

EMU JR West 113 series, "Matcha color", stabds at Kyoto station yard 

JR West's Kosei line is a railway route along the west coast of Japan's largest lake, "Biwa-ko". Connecting Yamashina on the Tokaido main line and Ohmi-Shiotsu on the Hokuriku main line, the route length is 74.1 kilometers. The track is double and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. It was constructed as a bypass route between Osaka and the Hokuriku area (Japan Sea side). Most trains are directly operated onto the Tokaido main line and/or the Hokuriku main line.

A local train on the Kosei line is unique and worthy of attention. It's an old EMU, JR West 113 series. Railfans call it the matcha-colored train. Matcha is a kind of tea made by adding hot water to powdered green tea leaves, and rapidly beating it with a bamboo whisk. It's served to guests at the tea ceremony.

The 113 series was launched in 1963 by the Japanese National Railways. A total of 2,977 cars were built by Nippon-sharyo, Kawasaki-sharyo and the others between 1963 and 1983. Although 57 years have already passed since it debuted, 16 sets (64 cars) are still operated on the Kosei line. All trains belong to Kyoto Branch Office of JR West's Suita Railyard.

Technical specification of the 113 series is rather old. It has a classic rheostatic electric control system with DC motors, but it's still operated without serious problems. The 113 series train is very tough. Many railfans believe that it will be operated until the late 2020's.

Side view of KuHa 113-5716 of the EMU JR West 113 series

Monday, 7 December 2020

The Hachiko Line Update: EMU E231-3000 Series

EMU JR East E231-3000 series arrives at Kaneko station on the Hachiko line

Continuing with what I covered last time, I'm going to continue introducing a new train model on the JR East Hachiko line today.

The JR East E231-3000 series was commissioned on the Hachiko line on February 18th, 2018. It used to be operated on the Sobu-Chuo local line under the name of the E231-0 series. What was the reason for this movement of trains? It's 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. First, the E231-500 series on the Yamanote line was transferred to the Sobu-Chuo local line. Second, the EMU E231-0 series on the Sobu-Chuo local line was temporarily retired. Finally, the E231-0 series was modified at JR East Akita and Aomori factories and introduced to the Hachiko line under the new name of the E231-3000 series. Six sets, 24 cars, of the E231-3000 series are currently operated on the Hachiko line. It was the volkerwanderung of trains.

What are the major differences between the original E231-0 and the modified E231-3000 series? First, the number of cars per set was decreased from 10 (the E213-0 series) to 4 (the E231-3000 series). Second, manual operation buttons for the passenger doors were equipped anew beside each door of the E231-3000 series. Third, the colors of the body stripes were changed from yellow to orange and light green.

EMU E231-3000series travels on the Hachiko line

Thursday, 3 December 2020

The Hachiko Line Update: EMU 209-3500 Series

EMU JR East 209-3500 series travels on the Hachiko line

I recently visited the JR East Hachiko line for the first time in three years. What was new with this local line in the western part of the Tokyo metropolitan area?

I found that the two models, namely the EMU 205-3000 and 209-3000 series, had disappeared from the track. The 205-3000 series was transferred to the Hachiko line in 2005 to replace the EMU, 103 series, which used to be operated on the Yamanote line in the downtown Tokyo area. The 205-3000 series was the first stainless-steel train on the Hachiko line. It had contributed to the modernization of the Hachiko line, but was eventually retired in July, 2018. Another retired model, the 209-3000 series, was introduced to the Hachiko line in July, 1996. It was built as new cars by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy industries. The white colored frame on the front showed a simple square design. This group had an orange and light green colored stripes on the body. The 209-3000 series was retired from the Hachiko line in February, 2019.

On the other hand, a new model named the 209-3500 series was introduced to the Hachiko line in May, 2018. This model was originally operated on the Sobu-Chuo local line under the name of the 209-500 series, but transferred to the Hachiko line after several modifications. This transfer was originally caused by the introduction of the new model, the E235 series, onto the Yamanote line in the downtown Tokyo area.

To be continued...

EMU JR East 209-3500 series leaves Kaneko station on the Hachiko line

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Final Chapter of the EMU 103 Series on the Nara Line

Set 407 of the EMU JR West 103 series arrives at Kyoto station

I recently visited Kyoto City on a business trip. I was very busy there, but I could secure just a short while to see several local trains at Kyoto station after finishing my meeting.

It's lucky that I came across the EMU JR West 103 series on track number 9 of the Nara line. The 103 series was commissioned in 1963 by Japanese National Railways (JNR). It was a representative JNR commuter train between the 1960s and 1980s. Many builders, such as Kisha-seizo, Tokyu-sharyo and Kinki-sharyo, built 3,447 cars over 21 years. The design and specification are rather old, but it seems very sturdy. The 103 series has been underpinning Japan's economic growth for the last 57 years, as it has been transporting hundreds of millions of commuters.

Most of the 103 series have already been retired from the tracks and scrapped. We can't see it anymore in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The situation is similar in Kyoto, but two sets (set NS407 and NS409) of 4-car trains are still operated on the Nara line. These trains have light green-colored steel bodies. One set is composed of two motorcars and two trailers (2M2T).

The old trains are constantly being replaced by the new models in Japan. The old commuter trains, which have been introduced by JNR, are being replaced by new ones by JR group companies. The final chapter of the JR West 103 series has just begun.

Set 407 of the EMU JR West 103 series stands at Kyoto station

Official information about JR West local trains (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Reunion with "Hana", the Flower of Trains

Set G6+G7 of the EMU JR East 485 series, "Hana", stands at Haijima Station

I recently came across one of the "Joyful Trains" at Haijima station on the Ome line. It was "Hana (flower)" currently belonging to Takasaki Railyard. This post will explain about Joyful Train and Hana.

What's Joyful Train? It's rolling stock operated by JR group companies for charters, special events and tourist excursions. Hana, Resort Yamadori, Resort Shirakami Aoike, Pokemon with You and Hanayome Noren are good examples. Irodori, Utage, Yuu, New Nanohana and Resort Shirakami Buna were also Joyful Trains, but they had already been retired.

What's Hana? Its formal name is set G6+G7 of the EMU JR East 485 series. Hana is an AC-DC (Alternate Current - Direct Current) dual system train consisting of 6 cars. Along with Utage and Yuu, Hana is an ozashiki train. The interior of Hana is arranged as a Japanese-type living room namely ozashki. Its floor is straw-matted with Japanese-style low tables so that the passengers are relaxed taking off their shoes as if they are at home.

Hana was launched in 1997 to replace an old ozashiki train "Nagoyaka (harmonious)". Nagoyaka was a passenger coach train pulled by a locomotive. It was inconvenient to operate when the locomotive was required to change by switchback at the terminal station. To make matters worse, the passenger coach train pulled by a locomotive had poor acceleration performance. Hence, it was a bottleneck of a timetable. A new Joyful Train, Hana, was built as an EMU to get good acceleration performance. Hana... long time no see. How are things?

Side view of KuRo 484-4 of the EMU JR East 485 series

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Origin of Koetsu-gaki Fence in Kyoto City

Unit 625 of the Electric Car Randen MoBo 621 series stands at Arashiyama terminal

Koetsu-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Takagamine, Kita Ward, Kyoto City. It was originally the residence of Hon-ami Koetsu who was a famous artist in the 17th century. The site was granted to Koetsu from Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1615. After the death of Koetsu, this residence was turned into the temple named Koetsu-ji in 1656. Today, the temple is known for its beautiful bamboo fences called Koetsu-gaki, and it also features an elegant tea ceremony garden with three tea houses with thatched roofs. I visited Koetsu-ji with my family in September, and enjoyed its Koetsu-gaki fence, beautiful garden and a nice view of Mt. Takagamine.

To visit Koetsu-ji temple, the nearest station is Arashiyama on the Arashiyama main line of Keifuku Electric Railway (Randen). Our vehicle was Unit 625 of the electric car MoBo 621 series. It's a 15 meter-long small tramcar. The MoBo 621 series was originally launched in 1936 under the name of the 121 series. 10 cars were built by Kawasaki-sharyo. About a half century later, six cars of the 121 series were renovated by Mukogawa-sharyo due to deterioration. Their DC motors, the bogies and the electric control system were inherited from the 121 series. On the other hand, their bodies were newly built. Unit 625 was completed in 1996. It has a light purple colored tiny body. It's beautiful and definitely my favorite.

I fully enjoyed both the traditional garden and the tramcar in the old capital.

Koetsu-gaki fence in Koetsu-ji temple

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

NRA Classic: Afterimage of the Red Arrow Train

Set 10105 of the EMU Seibu 10000 series, "New Red Arrow Classic"

As I posted before, Seibu Railway launched a new limited express train, the EMU 001 series "Laview", last year. Laview is Seibu's coined word combining Luxury, Arrow and View. As a result, the pre-existing model, the EMU 10000 series "New Red Arrow", will be retired in the near future.

New Red Arrow was a flagship model of Seibu Railway before Laview debuted. It was launched in 1993, and is still operated on the Shinjuku line. It's conveniently accessed from downtown Tokyo to Sayama and Kawagoe cities. Before New Red Arrow debuted, the Red Arrow train also existed. Red Arrow was launched in 1970, and retired by the middle of the 1990s to be replaced by New Red Arrow. Red Arrow is no longer operated on the Seibu railway network, but, you can still recall the coloring of the Red Arrow train from set number 10105 of the present New Red Arrow. It's called "NRA Classic (New Red Arrow Classic)". It has two tones of red and beige colors... very beautiful.

Incidentally, I like New Red Arrow as its reclining seat is cushioned adequately enough for comfort; however, the sound insulation of the train lacks something. It was a bit noisy for a company's flagship train. The specification of the train is also rather old in this day and age. 26 years later, Seibu eventually introduced the long-awaited new flagship train, Laview. I hope that both Laview and New Red Arrow including NRA Classic will be active for a while now.

"New Red Arrow Classic" travels on the Seibu-Shinjuku line

Official information about the EMU Seibu 10000 series, "New Red Arrow" (in Japanese):

Friday, 13 November 2020

The Kanazawa Seaside Line Update: Part 2

Set 33 of the EMU 2000 series travels on the Seaside line backed by the blue ocean

The Kanazawa Seaside line is a rubber-tired automated guideway transit (AGT). There is no driver and conductor on the train. As a result, the driver's seat on the train is vacant except in an emergency case. A passenger can freely sit on it and can enjoy scenic views through the frontal window of the train.

As its line name suggests, one of the beautiful sceneries on the Seaside line is the blue ocean. If you ride on the northbound train at Kanazawa-hakkei terminal, a seascape will suddenly appear in front of you just after leaving the terminal. You can start savoring the resort atmosphere. You will then enjoy the sceneries of beautiful Marine Park, Hakkei-jima Island, Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (an aquarium with an amusement park) and so on. Same as the Yurikamome line in the Tokyo Bay area, the Seaside line is indeed a scenic AGT line in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Incidentally, Kanazawa-hakkei temporary terminal on the Seaside line had been isolated from Keikyu Kanazawa-hakkei station due to a delay in land acquisition around Keikyu Kanazawa-hakkei station. The distance between the temporary terminal on the Seaside line and the Keikyu station was 150 meters. To make matters worse, the passengers changing trains had to cross a wide road, National Route 16. It was inconvenient for passengers to change trains.

On March 31st, 2019, the new Kanazawa-hakkei terminal was finally completed just above the Keikyu Kanazawa-hakkei station. What had been dissatisfying the passengers was eventually removed.

A marina near Kanazawa-hakkei terminal on the Seaside line

Monday, 9 November 2020

The Kanazawa Seaside Line: Update

Set 46 (special color) of the EMU 2000 series travels on the Seaside line

I recently visited the Kanazawa seaside line for the first time in a year. It was the sunny autumn weekend. I enjoyed every minute of this futuristic vehicle ride.

The Kanazawa Seaside line is a rubber-tired AGT (Automated Guideway Transit) system in the southern part of Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 40 kilometers south of Tokyo. It was opened in 1989 by Yokohama Seaside Line Company. Connecting Shin-Sugita on the JR East Negishi line and Kanazawa-hakkei on the Keikyu main line, its operating length is 10.8 kilometers. The track is double, and the train adopts a 750 V DC. ATO (Automatic Train Operation) electric system, so there is no driver or conductor on the train.

I came across a special colored train, namely set 46 of the EMU 2000 series. Different from the standard colored trains, set 46 has black and orange colored stripes on the body. The black color symbolizes the night sky, while the orange color represents the morning sun in the Yokohama bay area. Set 46 became the first train with LED frontal lights on the line.

Incidentally, the EMU 2000 series is currently the sole model on the line. It was launched in 2011 to replace the old EMU 1000 series. Eighteen sets (from set 31 to set 48) of 5-car train (90 cars) were built by J-TREC (former Tokyu-sharyo) between 2011 and 2019. The era of the EMU 2000 series will continue for the time being on the Kanazawa Seaside line.

Set 39 (standard color) of the EMU 2000 series travels on the Seaside line

Official information about the EMU 2000 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Final Chapter of the Old Subway Train

EMU Tokyo Metro 8000 series travels on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line

On March 26th, 2019, Tokyo Metro made a press release announcing that the new subway train named EMU 18000 series will be launched on the Hanzomon line in 2021. According to media, the first set was recently completed at Hitachi Kasado Factory and transported to Tokyo Metro's railyard last month. Tokyo Metro plans to introduce nineteen sets of the 18000 series by the end of March, 2023, which means that all the old 8000 series trains will be replaced by the new 18000 series by then.

The EMU Tokyo Metro 8000 series was launched in 1981 with the construction completion between Nagatacho and Hanzomon stations on the subway Hanzomon line within sight. Nineteen sets of 10-car train (190 units) were built between 1980 and 1994 by Tokyu-sharyo, Nippon-sharyo, Kinki-sharyo, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The greatest feature of the 8000 series is the front design. Its futuristic convex face with a large frontal window was inherited from the 6000 series on the Chiyoda line. This design is still fresh for me, even though 40 years have passed since the 8000 series debuted.

In terms of the technical specifications, Tokyo Metro adopted bolsterless bogies for the first time on the 8000 series. An armature chopper electric control system with DC motors equipped in the early stage was later changed to an IGBT-VVVF inverter electric control system with induction motors.

The final chapter of the old subway train, the EMU 8000 series, has just begun.

EMU Tokyo Metro 8000 series trains pass each other on the Den-en-toshi line

Sunday, 1 November 2020

EMU 70090 Series: Tobu's High-end Commuter Train

EMU Tobu 70090 series travels on the Tobu line

On March 20th this year, Tobu Railway launched a brand new train, the EMU 70090 series, on their Isesaki line. Same as the pre-existing 70000 series, the new 70090 series is directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro-Hibiya line.

What's the major difference between the pre-existing 70000 series and the new 70090 series? A simple answer is that the new 70090 series is the high-end version of the pre-existing 70000 series. The 70090 series has multi-purpose seats, which the conductor can change from long seats to cross seats using a remote control system. On the other hand, the 70000 series has simple standard long seats only.

The cross seat mode of the new 70090 series is applied, when it's operated as a reserved seat train, "TH Liner"; while the long seat mode is applied when it's operated as a standard commuter train. This convenient remote control system is similar to those of the Tobu 50090 series, the Keio 5000 series and the Seibu 40000 series.

What's the body design difference between the pre-existing 70000 series and the new 70090 series? They look similar, but their stripes are slightly different. The 70000 series has a red-colored thick stripe on the side body; while the 70090 series has a black-colored one.

Incidentally, the technical specifications of the 70000 and the 70090 are basically the same. One set is composed of 7 motor cars without trailers. The electric control system is the state of the art Si-IGBT VVVF inverter with PMSMs (permanent magnet synchronous induction motors).

Side view of unit 77793 of the EMU Tobu 70090series

Tobu Official information about TH Liner vehicle (in Japanese):
Tokyo Metro Official information about TH Liner (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

EMU 20400 Series: Renovated Train on the Tobu Lines

EMU Tobu 20400 series arrives at Shin-Ohirashita station

On March 27th this year, the last set of the EMU Tobu 20000 series quietly retired from the subway Hibiya line. It was the end of an era.

The Tobu 20000 series was launched in 1988. It was a train for direct operation between the subway Tokyo Metro-Hibiya line and the Tobu-Isesaki line. Twenty-four sets of 8-car trains (192 cars) were built by Tokyu-sharyo and Alna-sharyo. The greatest feature of this train was its bolsterless bogies. As its name suggests, a bolsterless bogie is a bogie that connects to the body without using a bolster spring. A bolsterless bogie instead connects to the body with air springs. Needless to say, a bolsterless bogie makes the train lighter and therefore saves on energy consumption.

After its retirement from the Hibiya line, the 20000 series was renovated and transferred to Tobu's local lines in the countryside. The new name of the renovated 20000 series is the 20400 series. What are the major differences between the old 20000 and the new 20400 series? Firstly, the number of cars per set decreased from 8 (the 20000 series) to 4 (the 20400 series). Secondly, manual operation buttons for the passenger doors were equipped anew beside each door of the 20400 series. Thirdly, the colors of the body stripes were changed from russet brown to yellow and dark blue.

On September 3rd, 2018, the first set of the 20400 series debuted on the Tobu-Utsunomiya line. Tobu Railway... here too surged a wave of generational change.

EMU Tobu 20400 series stands at Minami-Kurihashi station

Friday, 23 October 2020

Memories of Odakyu Romance Car "RSE"

EMU Odakyu 20000 series, Romance Car RSE (June, 2011) 

I recently rediscovered photographs of the retired Odakyu Romance Car, RSE on my hard disk.

RSE is an abbreviation of Resort Super Express. The formal name is the EMU Odakyu 20000 series. RSE was launched in 1991, when Odakyu started a direct operation between Shinjuku on the Odakyu line and Numazu on the JR Central Gotemba line. 2 sets, 14 cars, of RSE were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

The greatest feature of RSE was double decker Green Cars (first class cars) at the center of the 7-car train. Car number 3 and 4 correspond to the double deckers. Each seat on Green Cars had a liquid crystal television. Car number 4 had semi-compartment seats as well. RSE was elected as the 1992 Blue Ribbon Prize train. As you know, this prize is an annual award presented by the Japan Railfan Club, awarded to the best train that was launched in the previous year.

RSE was gorgeous; however, it had been suffering from a decrease in passengers due to recession. Odakyu decided the displacement plan of RSE. Consequently, RSE was retired from the track in 2000. I was sorry to hear that, but the God of trains was with us. In 2013, Fujikyu, a local railway company in Yamanashi Prefecture, purchased one set of RSE, and launched it under the name of Fujsan Express. Unfortunately, Fujisan Express is composed of only three cars without double deckers, but it still has a remnant of its former beauty in the Odakyu-era.

Romance Car RSE, stands at Hakone-Yumoto station (July, 2011)

Monday, 19 October 2020

Coleus Garden on the Tobu-Tojo Line

EMU Tobu 50090 series stands at Ikebukuro terminal on the Tojo line

Coleus is a plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It has multicolored decorative leaves. I recently found a beautiful coleus garden in Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park in Saitama Prefecture. Red, green, yellow and mixed colored coleuses were orderly planted on a slope under a grove. It was very splendid and beautiful.

To visit Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park, the nearest station is Shinrin-koen on the Tobu-Tojo line. It takes 48 minutes from Ikebukuro terminal in a subcenter of Tokyo by "Kawagoe Express" train. Kawagoe Express debuted in March, 2019, to promote tourism to the sightseeing spots in Kawagoe City and other areas such as Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park on the Tobu-Tojo line.

Tobu Railway provides the passengers with a high-end commuter train named the EMU 50090 series as Kawagoe Express train. The EMU 50090 series has multi-purpose seats, which a conductor can change from long to cross seats using a remote control. Kawagoe Express is operated in the cross-seat mode at no extra charge. Tobu Railway is so generous.

Incidentally, the 50090 series was launched in 2008 under the name of TJ Liner. Six sets, 60 cars, were built by Hitachi. Their sister trains, namely 50000, 50050 and 50070 series are also operated on the Tojo and the other Tobu lines. These trains have basically same technical specifications, and look similar, but only the 50090 series has multi-purpose seats and a purple-colored stripe on the side bodies. This stripe is a symbol of Tobu's high-end commuter train.

Coleus garden in Musashi-kyuryo National Government Park

Official information about Tobu trains (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Evergreen Train and Rickshaw in Kyoto City

EMU Hankyu 6300 series arrived at Katsura station on the Hankyu Arashiyama line 

I'm going to continue to show you my short stay in Kyoto City last month.

A rickshaw is a human-powered vehicle for transporting people, used as a means of getting around. It was developed in the early 1870's in Japan. The number of rickshaws peaked in the 1920's, and decreased rapidly as it was replaced by other means of transportation. You can no longer see rickshaws in Japan. No, no. That's not right. I certainly saw one carrying tourists on board in the bamboo grove of Arashiyama in Kyoto City. When I strolled in the grove with my family, we came across rickshaws, which have revived as a tourist attraction in the historical city.

In the evening, we came back to downtown Kyoto taking the Hankyu Arashiyama line. Our vehicle was the EMU 6300 series. It's an old model originally developed as a limited express train on the Kyoto main line. The 6300 series is the 1976 Blue Ribbon Winner. As you know, the Blue Ribbon Prize is an annual award presented by Japan Railfan Club to the best train that was launched in the previous year. The 6300 series were then transferred to the Arashiyama line in 2009. The passenger seats were changed from cross to semi-cross (cross and long) seats, as many tourists use this train. Although 45 years have passed since the 6300 series debuted, it's still beautiful. That's Hankyu quality.

The rickshaw and the EMU Hankyu 6300 series... they are evergreen means of transportation in Kyoto City.

A rickshaw in the bamboo grove of Arashiyama

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Scenic Train in Kyoto City: Part 2

A scenic train bound for Torokko-Kameoka travels on the Sagano scenic line
After arriving at Torokko-Kameoka station on the Sagano scenic line, we had three options to go back to downtown Kyoto City... the Sagano scenic line again, the JR West San-in main line or the Hozu River boat tour. We took the boat tour, so, I'm going to show you it in this post.

Hozu River boat tour paddles down the rapid stream in a traditional boat without an engine. It took one hour and fifty minutes from Kameoka boarding site to Saga-Arashiyama landing site in Kyoto City. It was quite a long journey as the route was meandering and much longer than railway lines. A local waterman piloted the boat and shot the meandering rapids perfectly. It was a thrilling adventure for sightseers. During the tour, we sometimes came across the trains on the Sagano scenic line travelling along Hozu River. The passengers both on the boat and the train smiled and waved hands to each other. That was a very fun moment for us.

Incidentally, the rolling stock of the Sagano scenic line is unique. Small passenger coaches are pulled or pushed by a diesel locomotive named Class DE10. The locomotive is always coupled at the end of the Torokko-Sagano side, so, a multiple-unit control system is applied on the train. A head passenger coach (SK200-1) coupled at the end of the Torokko-Kameoka side has a cockpit to control the whole train including the rear locomotive, when it is operated as a westbound train bound for Torokko-Kameoka.

Hozu River boat tour

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Scenic Train in Kyoto City

DE10-1104 DL stands at Torokko-Saga station on the Sagano scenic railway
Sagano Scenic Railway is a sightseeing railway company in Kyoto City. It's a subsidiary of JR West, and operates torokko (trolley) trains on the Sagano scenic line. Connecting Torokko-Saga and Torokko-Kameoka, its route length is 7.3 kilometers. The track is single and non-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. The train is operated every hour in the daytime.

The Sagano scenic line was originally opened as a part of San-in main line in 1899. It was abolished in 1989 due to completion of new modern electrified double track nearby. The abolished route was then transferred to newly established Sagano Scenic Railway Company in 1991 to utilize as a sightseeing railway.

The train on the Sagano scenic line is composed of a diesel locomotive (DL) and five passenger coaches. The company owns one unit of DL, named ex-JR West 1104 of the Class DE10 (DE10-1104). The company also tentatively borrows DE10-1156 from JR West, when DE10-1104 is inspected. The Class DE10 was developed in the 1960's by Japanese National Railways. It has a 1,350 PS diesel engine. The axis arrangement is Ao+Ao+Ao+Bo in UIC notation. On the other hand, the passenger coaches named the SK100, 200 and 300 series were modified from the old freight cars, type ToKi25000. A head passenger coach (SK200-1) has a cockpit to control the whole train including the rear DL.

Boarding on the sightseeing train, the passengers can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hozu River. It's a deep valley even in the city. To be continued...

SK200-1 passenger coach

Official information about Sagano scenic railway: https://www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/en/

Monday, 5 October 2020

Ancient Place for Funeral in Kyoto City

Electric car Keifuku MoBo 26 of the MoBo 21 series stands at Arashiyama station

Adashino is known as an ancient place for funeral in Kyoyo City. It used to be an aerial sepulture where the dead body was exposed to the wind until it was eroded completely. In 811, Kukai, a Buddhist monk, founded Nenbutsu-ji temple in Adashino to bury remains of the dead, which had been left unattended. Some eight thousand stone Buddhist statuettes, which had been scattered around Adashino, were then collected, and memorialized the souls of the dead.

To visit Nenbutsu-ji temple, the nearest station is Arashiyama on the Arashiyama main line of Keifuku Electric Railway. Legally, the Arashiyama main line is not a railway but a tramway. Connecting Arashiyama and Shijo-Omiya stations, its route length is 7.2 kilometers. The gauge size is 1,435 millimeters. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. The train is single or composed of 2 cars, and operated every 10 minutes in the daytime.

The retro designed electric car, MoBo 21 series, is popular among sightseers. It has a brown colored 15 meter-long steel body. Its classic double roof, large Z-shaped pantograph and large rounded front lights are definitely my favorite. Two cars, namely MoBo 26 and 27 of the MoBo 21 series, were built in 1994 commemorating the 1200th anniversary of the transfer of the national capital to Kyoto. The technical specification of the MoBo 21 series is rather old, as its travelling apparatus such as the traditional camshaft type rheostatic electric control system was taken from the old retired electric cars.

Stone Buddhist statuettes in Nenbutsu-ji temple
Official information about Keifuku Electric Railway:
Official information about the vehicles of Keifuku Electric Railway (in Japanese):

Friday, 2 October 2020

Kintetsu Trains on the Subway Karasuma Line

EMU Kintetsu 3220 series stands at Karasuma-Oike station
Let's continue where we left off last post.

There are three kinds of trains operated on the subway Karasuma line. The first one is the EMU Kyoto Municipal Subway10 series, which was shown in my last post. On the other hand, the second and the third ones are both Kintetsu's trains. They are the EMU 3200 and the 3220 series directly operated from the Kintetsu Kyoto line.

The 3200 series originally debuted in 1986 on the Kintetsu Osaka line. It was Kintetsu's first mass production type train with a GTO-VVVF (Gate Turn-Off thyristor-variable frequency drive) inverter electric control system. Using the 3200 series, the direct operation between the Kintetsu Kyoto and the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma lines commenced in 1988. I love this train as it was Kintetsu's first train with beautiful "maroon and silky white-colored" aluminum alloy bodies. The 3200 series is still the largest group from the Kintetsu line.

The 3220 series was launched in 2000. It was developed as a special train being operated onto the subway Karasuma line. It also has aluminum alloy bodies, but its body colors are "earth brown" and "crystal white", with a yellow colored stripe. The odd-shaped face of this train is definitely my favorite. Different from the older 3000 series, the newer 3220 series has an IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor-variable frequency drive) inverter electric control system.

The difference of technical specifications between the older 3200 and the newer 3220 series feels the passage of a 14-year time period.

EMU Kintetsu 3200 series leaves Gojo station on the subway Karasuma line

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Short Stay in Kyoto City: The Subway Karasuma Line

EMU 10 series stands at Kyoto station on the subway Karasuma line
After arriving at Kyoto, we transferred to the subway Karasuma line to visit several historical spots. The first one was Daikaku-ji temple. It's a Buddhist temple, but was originally opened as the detached imperial palace for Emperor Saga (765-842). I'm specifically fond of Osawa pond in the precincts. It's beautiful and quiet even in the city. We enjoyed walking around the pond, and spent a relaxing time there.

Incidentally, the subway Karasuma line was opened in 1981 between Kitaoji and Kyoto stations by the Transportation Bureau of Kyoto City. Currently, its line length is 13.7 kilometers. The trains on the line are directly operated onto the Kintetsu Kyoto line to Nara station. The gauge size is 1,435 millimeters and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The train is composed of 6 cars, and operated every 7-8 minutes in the daytime.

The EMU 10 series is the first model on the line. 20 sets, 120 cars, were built by Kinki Sharyo and Hitachi from 1980 to 1997. The body is aluminum alloy with a green colored vertical stripe on the front car. With regard to the technical specification, the electric control system was originally the thrystor or armature chopper, but recently changed to the state-of-art SIC-IGBT-VVVF inverter with the induction motors.

On March 29th last year, the Transportation Bureau made a press release announcing that the new model for the Karasuma line will be launched in the fiscal year 2021. Here too surged a wave of generational change.

Osawa pond in Daitoku-ji temple

Official information about the EMU 10 series on the subway Karasuma line, part 1 ( in Japanese):
Official information about the EMU 10 series on the subway Karasuma line, part 2 ( in Japanese):