Friday, 31 January 2020

EMU Seibu 6000 Series: Variations

Set 6012 of the EMU Seibu 6000 series with a white colored face

I introduced the outline of Seibu's commuter train, EMU 6000 series, six years ago. Today, I am going to follow up and explain this model in more detail.

The 6000 series is a multi-purpose train for the Seibu line and its direct operation lines. It was launched in 1992, when the direct operation between the Seibu-Ikebukuro and the Eidan (present Tokyo Metro)-Yurakucho lines was commenced. One set of the 6000 series consists of 6 motor cars and 4 trailers (6M4T). A total of 25 sets, 250 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Hitachi. The electric control system is GTO (Gate Turn-Off thyristor)-VVVF (Variable frequency drive) with induction motors. This model has changed the image of the Seibu trains from the dowdy yellow trains to the urban sophisticated ones.

The early 17 sets (the first to the 4th batches) have stainless-steel bodies; meanwhile, the late 8 sets (the 5th to the 7th batches) have aluminum bodies. The early 22 sets (the first to the 5th batches) have windows on the door pockets; meanwhile, the late 3 sets (the 6th to the 7th batches) don't have such windows to reduce manufacturing cost. The early 2 sets have white colored front faces; meanwhile, late 23 sets have silver colored front faces. I am very happy to perceive this kind of fine difference among the trains as a trainspotter.

Currently, the 6000 series is directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro-Fukutoshin line, the Tokyu-Toyoko line and the Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway.

Set 6101 of the EMU Seibu 6000 series with a silver colored face

Official information about the EMU Seibu 6000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Unazuki Rail Yard on the Kurobe Kyokoku Railway

Unazuki rail yard of Kurobe Kyoku Railway in Toyama Prefecture

December was the month of house cleaning in Japan, so many people refreshed themselves for New Year's Day. I started cleaning my hard disk (not my house!) to organize my huge amount of photographs and found that some old pictures were worth showing in this blog. Let's get started with some rail yard photos from Toyama Prefecture.

Kurobe Kyokoku Railway is a sightseeing route similar to the Ikawa line of Ooigawa Railway. Connecting Unazuki and Keyakidaira, its route length is 20.1 kilometers. The gauge size is only 762 millimeters. It has a single track with a 600 V DC overhead electric system. Lovely passenger coaches pulled by electric locomotives are operated. Looking at the beautiful Kurobe gorge scenery, visitors can enjoy traveling for one hour and twenty minutes from Unazuki terminal.

The rail yard is adjacent to Unazuki terminal. It was midsummer, a peak season of the railway. I could see many tiny locomotives and passenger coaches frequently going in and out the yard. It was like a diorama in a museum. The situation was the same in the evening. The railway employees were very busy shunting the electric locomotives one after another to prepare for the next day's operation. The rail yard was bustling with activity.

Incidentally, you can see not only small locomotives and coaches but also standard sized trains in the photo. They were trains of Toyama Chihou Railway, which is also a local private railway in Toyama Prefecture. I am going to introduce them one day.

Night view of Unazuki rail yard, Kurobe Kyoku Railway

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Moominvalley Park on the Seibu Line

EMU Seibu 30000 series travels on the Ikebukuro line

Moomin is popular novel, comic and animation series created by a Finnish illustrator, Tove Jansson. In Japan, the TV animation started in 1969, and soon became popular among children. The Moomin family lives in their house in "Moominvalley". Catching onto the popularity of Moomin, a theme park named "Moominvalley Park" was opened in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture last year. When I visited there with my family last December, it was very crowded with families and couples due to the winter vacation season. We saw Moomin's house and enjoyed the Moomin family show. It was fantastic, but Moomin's family was supposed to hibernate during the winter according to the original story. Don't be square!

To visit Moominvalley Park, the nearest station is Hanno on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line. On the way back home, I enjoyed taking photos of Seibu trains at Musashi-Fujisawa station. My target was the EMU 30000 series, "Smile Train", because I enjoyed a lot at Moominvalley Park. The 30000 series was launched in 2008, as Seibu's new symbolic train. Its front view looks like a smiling face. The engineering concept is "trains bring smiles to people". A total of 30 sets, 216 units (10-car, 8-car and 2-car sets), were built by Hitachi. The 30000 series has aluminum alloy bodies without a gangway door as it is not operated onto subway lines. The electric control system is IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) inverter with 165kW induction motors.

After smiling at Moominvalley Park, I shot the Smile Train on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line.

Moominvalley Park near Hanno station on the Seibu Ikebukuro station

Official movie, Seibu Railway and Moominvalley Park:

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

2020 New Year Scene on the Odakyu Line

EMU Odakyu Romance Car MSE, 60000 series (4-car section), travels on the Odawara line 

It's already late January. Time really flies. Before ending the first month of the year 2020, I'm going to show you one more topic on the New Year scene in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

It's warm and clear on New Year's Day. After celebrating New Year at home, I enjoyed strolling in the suburban area on the Odakyu line. I found that Odakyu's limited express train, Romance Car "MSE", EMU 60000 series, carried a special sticker on the front. It was a round shape and emblazoned with a rat. This is the year of the rat in the zodiac. As you may know, the zodiac was originally from China. The Japanese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle. It is said that a rat is a symbol of prosperity because of having many children.

Incidentally, MSE (Multi Super Express) was launched in 2008. The train body is a metallic blue color with red and white stripes. It is composed of 10 cars, but one set can be broken up into 6 and 4 car sections to enhance operational flexibility. MSE is operated as a sightseeing train between Shinjuku, a sub-center of Tokyo, and Hakone, Gotemba and Enoshima, which are famous resorts in the Tokyo metropolitan area. On the other hand, MSE is also operated as a commuter express between downtown Tokyo, such as Otemachi on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line, and Hon-Atsugi in the western suburb of the metropolitan area.

I am sure that MSE will continue to be successful in 2020.

Special sticker celebrating New Year

Official information about the EMU Odakyu romance Car 60000 series, MSE (in Japanese):
Official information about Odakyu Romance Car:
Official promotion movie of Odakyu Electric Railway and Wallabies:
Official promotion movie of Hakone by Odakyu Electric Railway:

Sunday, 19 January 2020

"Color Wheel" of the Shinkansen Trains

"Color Wheel" of Shinkansen trains, the E6 (left), the E7 (center) and the E5 (right) series

Shinkansen is the representative train of Japan. Currently, it has an over 3,000 kilometers line network in this country. Shinkansen is popular among children and rail-fans. Why? Because, it's fast. Because, the streamlined design is cool. That may be true, but I think that there is one more reason. The answer is the beautiful coloring of the bodies.

Let's look concretely. The EMU E5 series for Tohoku Shinkansen has a green colored nose with a pink colored stripe. On the other hand, the E6 series for Akita Shinkansen has a red colored nose with a gray colored stripe. Moreover, the E7 series for Joetsu Shinkansen has a blue colored nose with gold, blue and pink colored stripes. How colorful they are!.

I wish I could shoot these three kinds of Shinkansens into one image.

If you are a rail-fan, I'm sure that everybody will think so, but how? I have an idea. The E5 series is usually coupled to the E6 series. The coupling part of these two vehicles is slim, because they are noses, so, you should shoot the coupling part of the E5 and the E6 series, when the nose of the E7 series just passed through the further side of the coupling part. Do you follow?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Please look at the photo. That's the very thing I wanted. Green, red and blue... you can see three kinds of Shinkansen trains into one image. It's gorgeous and like a "color wheel" in chromatics.

EMU E7 series for Joetsu Shinkansen

Official movie about maintainanse of JR East Shinkansen:
Official promotion movie, JR East:

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Aerial Tramway to the Superb Island View

Gondola number 1, Shimoda Ropeway

Shimoda is a sightseeing city located about 170 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. It's famous for the beautiful ocean and the mountains, but Shimoda is also known as a historical city, where the Tokugawa Shogunate opened a port to the U.S. in 1854 after their long isolation policy. I recently visited this historical resort for the first time in a year.

To get to Shimoda, Izukyu Railway was convenient. After getting off Izukyu-Shimoda terminal, I went to Shin-Shimoda station of Shimoda Ropeway. It took only one minute's walk from the terminal. Shimoda Ropeway is a jig-back type aerial tramway opened in 1961 just before the inauguration of Izukyu Railway. Connecting Shin-Shimoda and Nesugatayama (Mt. Nesugata) stations, the route length is 540 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 156 meters. Last year, ultramarine colored new gondolas, namely number 1 and 2, were launched. At the same time, the traction motor was replaced by an induction motor controlled by an inverter system. Each gondola can accommodate up to 39 passengers. They are operated every 15 minutes.

Mt. Nesugata has an elevation of 200 meters. The view from the summit was fantastic. I could see not only historical Shimoda City but also the beautiful Izu Islands on the Pacific Ocean. Triangle shaped Toshima Island was especially impressive. It's a volcanic island located 37 kilometers offshore from Shimoda City. There is a small village with a population of 300 on the island. I want to visit there one day.

Superb view from Mt. Nesugata

Official information about Shimoda Ropeway:
Official movie about Shimoda Ropeway:

Monday, 13 January 2020

New Station on the New Line

EMU JR East E233-7000 series stand at Hazawa-Yokohama Kokudai station

Hazawa-Yokohama Kokudai is the newest station in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Hazawa is the name of the place. On the other hand, Yokohama Kokudai means Yokohama National University, which is located near the station. Hazawa-Yokohama Kokudai station was opened on November 30th, 2019, when the JR-Sotetsu direct line (a connecting route between the JR East and the Sotetsu lines) was inaugurated. I recently visited this brand new station and walked around the surrounding area. What kind of place was there?

The new station is used by both JR East and Sotetsu (Sagami Railway), but managed by Sotetsu alone. The platforms are located underground. They are separated ones with automatic platform gates. Trains arrive and depart every 30 minutes on average both northbound and southbound for now. Passengers may need more frequent services. The station building is large enough. It is equipped with escalators, elevators, clean toilets and so on. The only problem is that there is no kiosk.

The surrounding area is just quiet. It is adjacent to the Hazawa freight station operated by JR Freight. Another side is a residential area. There is neither a shop nor a restaurant. I found several passengers who got on and off the station, but most of them were railfans or sightseers who were interested in the new station, not local people. Yokohama National University is located east of the station, but I couldn't find any students due to the New Year holiday season.

Hazawa-Yokohama Kokudai... it is brand new but a bit lonely station.

JR East-Sotetsu Hazawa-Yokohama Kokudai station

Friday, 10 January 2020

Sotetsu Train on the JR Line

EMU JR East E233-7000 (left) and Sotetsu 12000 series (right) stand at Shinjuku station

There are 8 major private railway companies including Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) in the metropolitan area, but Sotetsu was the only company that didn't run into downtown Tokyo. Sotetsu's fatal weakness for business was their railway network. They have been hankering after a direct operation into downtown Tokyo. For that purpose, a connecting line (the JR-Sotetsu direct line) was constructed from Nishiya station on the Sotetsu line to the existing JR East line.

On November 30th, 2019, Sotetsu's dream came true. Sotetsu trains started to be operated onto the JR East line. As a result, we can see the dark blue colored Sotetsu train at the giant JR East Shinjuku terminal. Specifically, rail fans are happy to see the Sotetsu and JR East trains stood side by side at Platforms 2 and 3. Needless to say, the Sotetsu train is the EMU 12000 series.

The Sotetsu 12000 series is a 10-car new model for the direct operation onto the JR East line. It has 2,950-millimeter-wide stainless-steel bodies, which are the same as the JR East E233-7000 series. The design of the front mask was taken from a lion's face. This lion is not a real lion, but a legendary lion in Japan. A total of 6 sets, 60 units were built by J-TREC.

Following the direct operation onto the JR line, Sotetsu continues to build another connecting line to the Tokyu line, which will be completed in the second half of the fiscal year 2022. Sotetsu is building a new era.

EMU Sotetsu 12000 series leaves JR East Shinjuku station

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

2020 Shinjuku "Minamillumi"

EMU Sotetsu 12000 series stands at JR East Shinjuku station on the Shonan-Shinjuku line

Winter is known as a season of street illumination. Urban streets are nicely decorated with millions of LED lights. It is not known exactly what the origin of this event was, but I think that it can be traced to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls.

This year, I visited the Southern Terrace of Shinjuku station for the first time in three years. I saw many visitors, who were sewing in the woods of lights, called "Minamillumi". Minamillumi is a compound word of minami (south) in Japanese and illumination in English. Different from several years ago, winter illuminations in Tokyo became simple. For instance, colorful illuminations disappeared, probably because people were bored. Instead, single-colored illumination such as "champagne gold" became popular among Tokyoites. Minamillumi is no exception. I enjoyed the new illumination design with my family.

On the way back home, I found a Sotetsu (Sagami Railway) train, the EMU 12000 series, standing at JR East Shinjuku station. Why was the Sotetsu train there? It was because Sotetsu trains started to be directly operated onto the JR East line on November 30th. Using the newly constructed JR-Sotetsu direct line, residents on the Sotetsu line in Kanagawa Prefecture, can directly come to Shinjuku, a subcenter of the Tokyo Metropolis. As you may know, Shinjuku is the world's largest railway station. The ridership is 3.5 million passengers per day.

I am going to report this new Sotetsu-JR East direct operation in the next post. To be continued...

Night view of Southern Terrace (Minamillumi) of Shinjuku station

Saturday, 4 January 2020

The 10th Anniversary of the Green Line

Set 16 (the 10th anniversary color) of the EMU Yokohama Municipal Subway 10000 series

I visited the Green line of the Yokohama Municipal Subway for the first time in about four years. What was new with this 2nd subway line in the city?

I found a special poster train celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Green line. On February 25th, 2018, the Yokohama City Transportation Bureau launched it using set number 16 of the EMU 10000 series. This special 4-car train is still operated even after nearly two years has passed since the celebration day. The outer design was taken from the oldest streetcar in Yokohama City, namely car number 523 of the 500 series, exhibited in Yokohama Tram Museum.

Incidentally, the Green line connects Nakayama on the JR East Yokohama line and Hiyoshi on the Tokyu Toyoko line. The operating length is 13.1 kilometers. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,435 millimeters. The section between Center-kita and Center-minami stations (900 meters) is an elevated track, NOT underground, so, it is popular among rail fans to take train photos. Needless to say, I am also one of them.

Just like the Toei Ooedo line, linear motor technology is adopted for the train driving system on this subway line. A 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. You can see a special box, a "reaction plate," between the rails. This technology allowed downsizing of the tunnel section.

EMU Yokohama Municipal Subway 10000 series (standard color) travels on the Green Line

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Ikawa Line: Sightseeing Railway in the Deep Valley

Diesel locomotive Class DD20 and passenger coaches travels on the Ikawa line

Happy New Year! The year 2020 has begun. Last year, I received a lot of emails from my blog readers, but sorry, I couldn't reply at all due to my having to work hard. Please wait a little while more until I can make time. At the opening of the New Year, I am going to show you a unique train in a secluded valley in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The Ikawa line of Ooigawa Railway is a route along to the upper stretch of Ooigawa River. Connecting Senzu and Ikawa, there are 14 stations over the total operating length of 25.5 kilometers. The track is single, partly electrified (1,500 V DC overhead). The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. The section between Abt-Ichishiro and Nagashima-dam (1.5 kilometers) is very steep (90 per mil), so, a rack-and-pinion (Abt) railway system is applied on this section.

The rolling stock of the Ikawa line is cute. Small passenger coaches are pulled or pushed by a diesel locomotive (Class DD20). In addition, an electric locomotive (Class ED90) joined to help on the rack-and-pinion section. A multiple-unit control system is applied on the train, so, a head passenger coach (KuHa 600) has a cockpit to control the whole train including the rear locomotive.

The Ikawa line is similar with Kurobe Kyokoku Railway in Toyama Prefecture. They are both sightseeing routes in the deep valleys. There are many tunnels and bridges on the routes. Fresh green and autumn leaves are very beautiful. Please try both railways and enjoy the nature of Japan.

A train (KuHa 600 + passenger coaches + DL Class DD20) on the Ikawa line

Official information about the Ikawa line: