Tuesday, 28 April 2020

New Railway Station in Tokyo: Part 2

EMU E233-1000 series arrives at Takanawa Gateway station on the Keihin-Tohoku line

Following my previous post, I'm going to continue to show you some more pictures of JR East's new railway station, "Takanawa Gateway".

The site of Takanawa Gateway station is a reclaimed land. After completion of the Tokaido main line in 1872, a large rail yard was constructed adjacent to the railway tracks. It functioned as an important rail yard for the Tokaido main line for a long time, but the situation was changed in 2015. Many trains on the Tokaido main line started to be directly operated onto the Takasaki, Joban and Tohoku main lines by way of Tokyo station, so that many trains became not required to return from Tokyo station. As a result, the large rail yard became unnecessary near the city center area. Using this newly generated free space, JR East planned to construct a new railway station with a business and a shopping center. It's indeed a big project.

Today, a small rail yard still remains adjacent to Takanawa Gateway station. If you get off at the Keihin-Tohoku line platform during the daytime, you can see rare trains being stored there. They are additional benefit for rail-fans. One of the representative trains is the the double-decker named EMU 215 series. This EMU was launched in 1992 to eliminate congestion in rush hour. A total of 4 sets, 40 units, were built by Nippon sharyo and Hitachi. On weekends, the 215 series transform themselves from commuter to sightseeing trains. The view from the upper floor is excellent.

A view from the Keihin-Tohoku line platform: EMU JR East 215 series

Saturday, 25 April 2020

EMU Keio 7000 Series: Variations

EMU Keio 7000 series with bead-press stainless-steel bodies travels on the Keio main line

I introduced the outline of Keio's commuter train, EMU 7000 series, seven years ago. Today, I'm going to follow up and explain this model in more detail.

The 7000 series debuted in 1984 to enhance transportation capacity on the Keio line. A total of 190 cars were built until 1996 by Nippon sharyo and Tokyu sharyo. It's the first stainless-steel body train on the Keio line. The technical specification of the 7000 series was originally similar with that of the 6000 series launched in 1972. For example, both the 6000 and the 7000 series have the same field chopper electric control systems.

The early 110 cars of the 7000 series have corrugations on the side bodies. What for? It's for concealing the distortion on the stainless-steel plates. In the 1980s, even if skilled welders did spot welding for stainless-steel plates, they couldn't prevent distortion on the plates. The outer corrugation plates covered the welded plates for concealing the distorted parts. On the other hand, the later 80 units have bead-press stainless-steel bodies. As a result of technological progress, corrugation plates were no longer needed from the late 1980s. The bead-press body has a simple design without corrugation.

17 years after its debut, the renovation for the 7000 series was started due to the deterioration. For instance, the electric control system was changed from the field chopper to the state-of-the-art IGBT-VVVF (insulated gate bipolar transistor-variable frequency drive) inverter with induction motors.

The EMU Keio 7000 series... it's still active.

EMU Keio 7000 series with corrugations on the side bodies arrives at Meidaimae station

Official promotion movie, Keio Electric Railway (1):
Official promotion movie, Keio Electric Railway (2):

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

EMU 5000 Series: New Model on the Odakyu Line

EMU Odakyu 5000 series (westbound train) passes through Chitose-Funabashi station

On March 26th, Odakyu Electric Railway Company launched a new commuter train for the first time in 12 years.

The new model named EMU 5000 series is a 10-car train consisting of 5 motorcars and 5 trailers. It's an Odakyu line exclusive train. In other words, the 5000 series can't be directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line due to its specification. Currently, only one set is operated, but Odakyu plans to introduce 5 more sets by the end of March 2021. The first set was built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

The most distinctive feature of this commuter train is its wide bodies. It's about 10 centimeters wider than that of existing models such as the 3000 and the 4000 series. It's only 10 centimeters, but still considered important for passengers like me, who use packed trains at a peak hour everyday. The other feature is that LEDs are used for all lights including front, rear and interior ones. The electric control system is a state-of-the-art full SiC-VVVF (full silicon carbide-variable frequency drive) inverter. Thanks to the SiC power semiconductor, electric consumption of the 5000 series has been reduced by up to 40% compared with the past models. It's because SiC doesn't get as hot as those of the previous semiconductors.

The 5000 series will replace the old models gradually. I predict that the early EMU 8000 series with an armature chopper electric control system will be retired soon. Patna rhei (All things are in a state of flux).

EMU Odakyu 5000 series (eastbound train) passes through Chitose-Funabashi station

Official promotion movie about the EMU Odakyu 5000 series (in Japanese):
Official promotion movie about Odakyu's new timetable (in Japanese):

Sunday, 19 April 2020

2020 Spring in Tokyo: Temporarily Closed

EMU JR East E4 series leaves Tokyo station

I'm a coffee lover. You might be the same. I often drop by a coffee shop adjacent to Tokyo station on my way to the office. My favorite drink is caffe latte. Enjoying its flavor, I often see the Shinkansen trains passing through just in front of the counter. They travel slowly as it's near Tokyo terminal. The seats at the counter are rail-fans' paradise for train viewing.

The tracks beside the counter are for the JR East Tohoku Shinkansen trains. Sitting on the counter seats, I can feel the long noses of the Shinkansen trains there. For instance, the nose of the EMU E5 series deviates from the effective camera shooting area. The very limit of shooting is the nose of the E4 series. The E2 and the E3 series are short enough. Enjoying a cup of caffe latte, I can relax and spend a very happy time perceiving the fine difference among the Shinkansen trains. Time goes by slowly there.

That situation drastically changed in these three months. Many shops are now temporarily closed in the city center of Tokyo due to the new coronavirus infection risks. My habitual coffee shop adjacent to Tokyo station is no exception. The lights are gone out. The shop staff and customers are not there. Such things have never happened since the shop was opened in 2007. I feel very sad, and hope that things will blow over soon.

It's a difficult time for people in Tokyo in the spring of the year 2020.

EMU JR East E2 and E3 series arrives at Tokyo terminal on the Tohoku Shinkansen

Thursday, 16 April 2020

New Train Bound for Izu Peninsula: Part 2

EMU JR East E257-2000 series, "Odoriko", stands at Tokyo station

Following my previous post, I'm going to show you another new limited express train bound for Izu Peninsula... the EMU JR East E257-2000 series, "Odoriko".

The E257-2000 series is a renovated model. It was originally commissioned in 2001 under the name of the E257 series, and mainly used for a limited express train, "Kaiji" on the Chuo main line. A total of 21 sets, 154 units, were built by Hitachi, Kinki-sharyo and Tokyu-sharyo. 

19 years late, the renovation of the E257 series was started. The decrepit trains revived under the new name of the E257-2000 series. By April 1st this year, a total of 8 sets, 72 units, were remodeled by JR East Nagano and Akita factories. As a result of the renovation, the color of the body stripe was changed to blue. The Green Car (first-class car) arrangement was also changed from a half car to one car per set. The E257-2000 series is currently operated between the central area of Tokyo on the JR East line and Izukyu-Shimoda on the Izukyu line as a limited express train, "Odoriko".

Incidentally, I found a good time and place for rail-fans to see the new limited express trains. It's around 0.30 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Friday at Tokyo station. You can see the E261 series at first. It leaves 0.30 p.m. from Platform 8. Just after seeing the E261 series off, the E257-2000 series then comes in on the same platform. It's a must-see event for a railway enthusiast.

Unit SaRo E257-2016 of the EMU E257-2000 series

Monday, 13 April 2020

Takanawa Gateway: New Railway Station in Tokyo

EMU E233-1000 series arrives at Takanawa Gateway station on the Keihin-Tohoku line

On March 14th, a new railway station was inaugurated in the city center of Tokyo. The station name is Takanawa Gateway. It's located between Tamachi and Shinagawa stations on the JR East Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku lines.

As its name suggests, Takanawa Gateway is an entrance to the Takanawa area, which is one of the high-class residential sections with fashionable shops and restaurants. The station layout is two island platforms serving four tracks. The southern two tracks are used by the Keihin-Tohoku line trains. On the other hands, the northern two tracks are used by the Yamanote line trains. Its roof open ceiling is trendy like Osaka station. There is a kiosk with an unmanned AI payment system named TOUCH TO GO in the station yard.

Incidentally, I wonder why recent railway stations often use foreign words for their names. They are Resort Gateway, Telecom Center, Universal City, Tennozu Isle, Koshigaya Lake Town, Keio Tama Center, Center Minami and so on. The beginning of this tendency can be traced back to the Tama Plaza station, which was inaugurated in 1966, on the Tokyu-Denentoshi line. Tama Plaza is a new town area developed by Tokyu Electric Railway Company. Tokyu probably needed a unique and attractive station name for selling lands and houses on the newly constructed railway line. To be honest, I'm not fond of these kinds of station names as they look like foreign places, but OK. We can learn foreign languages from these names at least.

EMU JR East E235 series leaves Takanawa Gateway station on the Yamanote line

Official promotion movie, TOUCH TO GO in Takanawa Gateway station 

Friday, 10 April 2020

2020 Sakura Season in Tokyo: Part 2

4054F of the EMU Odakyu 4000 series passes through Chitose-Funabashi station

I'm going to continue to show you this year's sakura (cherry blossoms) season photographs.

On March 22nd, the Meteorological Agency of Japan made a press release announcing that sakura in Tokyo had fully blossomed. It's an exciting season for Japanese people, as they are very fond of sakura viewing. I'm also one of them. Although we were prohibited to hold parties under the sakura trees in public places due to new coronavirus infection risks, we could at least enjoy walking on the streets or in the parks viewing sakura blossoms in full bloom. On Sunday, March 29th, however, the weather was unexpected. It was unseasonable snow in Tokyo. It was the first time in 51 years that snow fell and built up during the sakura blooming period. I was discouraged a bit, but tried to shoot sakura blossoms with snow in my house's neighborhood taking heart. It's unique and also tasteful.

On the way back home, I stopped by the nearest railway station and tried taking photographs of trains with snow. The EMU Odakyu 4000 series was just about to pass through the station. Different from before, trains in Tokyo have become snow resistant. One of the reasons is their pantographs on the roofs. Currently, single-armed pantographs are adopted by many railway companies. A single-armed pantograph is effective for snow accumulation prevention, because it has only a small area on the top of its shoe. Needless to say, a heavy pantograph with snow accumulation causes a pantograph bounce.

Sakura (cherry) blossoms and spring snow near Chitose-Funabashi station

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

New Limited Express Train Bound for Izu Peninsula

Set RS2 of the EMU JR East E261 series, Saphir-Odoriko stands at Tokyo station

On March 14th, many railway companies in Japan changed their timetables all at once. JR East was one of them. Their largest topic was the debut of a new limited express train, Saphir-Odoriko bound for Izu Peninsula, a reputable resort area in the southwestern suburb of Tokyo.

What's the meaning of Saphir-Odoriko? According to JR East, saphir means sapphire in French. It's a symbol color of the ocean and the sky of Izu Peninsula. On the other hand, Odoriko means a dancing girl in Japanese. This curious name comes from a famous novel, "Izu no Odoriko (The Dancing Girl of Izu)", which is also a symbol of Izu Peninsula.

Saphir-Odoriko is operated between Tokyo (or Shinjuku) on the JR East line and Izukyu-Shimoda on the Izukyu line everyday. Its route length is 167.2 kilometers. Shimoda is a famous resort city located in the southern part of Izu Peninsula. The formal train model number of Saphir-Odoriko is the EMU JR East E261 series. A total of two sets, 16 cars, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi. One set is composed of eight cars. They are one Premium Green Car, two private room Green Cars, four standard Green Cars and one dining car. A Green Car is synonymous with a First-class car.

I recently shot this brand new train at Tokyo station. Although it wasn't a weekend, I saw many passengers boarding this gorgeous train bound for Izu resort area. I was jealous of them.

Side view of the EMU JR East E261 series

Official information about the limited express train, Saphir-Odoriko, EMU E261 series:

Saturday, 4 April 2020

The Ninth Anniversary of Tokyo Railway Labyrinth

EMU Tokyo Metro 16000 series arrives at Chitose-Funabashi station on the Odakyu line

My blog has its ninth anniversary next week. I thank all my blog readers for visiting this website over the last nine years. I received a lot of emails from my blog readers, but sorry, I recently can't reply at all, because I have lots of work to do. Please wait until I can make time. In commemoration of the ninth anniversary, I'm going to show you a railway line with the number "9" in the name.

Subway line 9 in Tokyo is generally called the Chiyoda line. To be more accurate, most Tokyoites don't know that the Chiyoda line is officially described as Subway line 9 in "Railway Directly", which is the official handbook regarding Japanese railways.

The Chiyoda line was opened in 1969 as the sixth subway route in Tokyo. Connecting Yoyogi-Uehara and Kita-Ayase, the total operating length is 24 kilometers. The trains are directly operated onto the JR East Joban and the Odakyu lines. A total of 1.11 million passengers take this route each day. To operate this urban trunk subway line, more than 60 sets of trains are required every day. They are covered by the Tokyo Metro 16000, 05 series, the Odakyu 4000, 60000 series and the JR East 233-2000 series. My office is located near Otemachi station on the Chiyoda line, so that I also often use it together with the Odakyu line.

Subway line 9... I appreciate its continuous support for my commuting.

EMU Tokyo Metro 05 series stands at Kita-Ayase station on the Chiyoda line

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

2020 Sakura Season in Tokyo

Night view of Tokyo station

On March 15th, the Meteorological Agency of Japan declared that sakura (cherry) blossoms had started blooming in Tokyo. It was the earliest record in history. The agency then reported that they fully blossomed on March 22nd.

As I post year after year, Japanese people harbor romantic emotions towards sakura blossoms. We are also reminded of the emptiness of life seeing the beautiful blossoms dropping only a week after they fully blossom. Sakura viewing is a part of Japanese culture. Famous sakura spots are crowded with admirers. They spread mats on the ground under the blossoms, and have parties with their family, friends and colleagues.

Wait a minute please. This year, the situation was totally different from previous years. We were prohibited to hold parties under the sakura trees in the public places due to new coronavirus infection risks. I had no choice but to take only several sakura photographs on the way back home from my office. I saw very few people walking and watching sakura blossoms around the Imperial Palace. There was a little traffic on the streets in the evening.

Incidentally, I shot a night view of Tokyo station from my office before shooting fully bloomed sakura trees. It was a good warming up for my sakura shooting. The station scenery was very beautiful against the evening sky same as before, but it was different since the invisible new coronavirus was active out of sight of ordinary people.

I hope things will blow over soon.

Sakura (cherry) blossoms in full bloom near Tokyo station