Saturday, 29 May 2021

Electric Car, Hakodate Transportation Bureau 9600 Series

Electric car Hakodate Transportation Bureau 9600 series (August, 2012)

The Japanese Government extended the 3rd state of emergency caused by the new corona virus, so, I have to continue refraining from any nonessential and non-urgent outings. I have no choice but to continue introducing trains from photos I recently rediscovered on my hard disk.

Hakodate is the 3rd largest city in population on Hokkaido Island. It's located about 880 kilometers north of Tokyo. I visited this northern city for sightseeing in the summer of 2012. An electric car, which I came across in the city at that time, is shown in this post.

The 9600 series is an electric car operated by Hakodate Transportation Bureau. It's a so called LRT (light rail transit). The definition of LRT is not clear, but it's typically an urban low-floor tram in Japan. Four sets in total of the 9600 series were built by Alna Sharyo from 2007 to 2018. The 9600 series is a two-car train with two bogies. It means that the 9600 series doesn't have an articulated bogie. Its overall length is only 13.25 meters. The body is stainless steel. An IGBT-VVVF inverter (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) electric control system with two 85kW induction motors is adopted.

Incidentally the tram line in Hakodate City was opened as a horse tramway in 1897. It was electrified in 1913 to become Hokkaido's first modern electric tramway. Its current total operating length is 10.9 kilometers. The track is 1,372 millimeter-size double, and its electric system is 600V DC overhead.

The 9600 series stands at Hakodate-ekimae stop (August, 2012)

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Nature Forest on the Kominato Railway

Diesel rail-car Kominato Railway KiHa 200 series 

Ichihara is a small city in Chiba Prefecture, some 80 kilometers east of Tokyo. I recently visited a nature park, named Ichihara Quad Forest, in the city for strolling. It provided me with a change as there was not much opportunity to have fun during the COVID-19 calamity. I found carp streamers at the entrance of the park. A carp streamer is a symbol of power for children to grow up. Parents celebrate their children's birth and pray for their healthy growth by putting up carp-shaped banners in their villages. The carps were whipping in the gentle breeze.

To visit this nature park, the nearest railway station is Tsukizaki on the Kominato Railway. Kominato is a small private railway line opened in 1925. There are 18 stations over a total operating length of 39.1 kilometers. The track is 1,067 millimeter-size single and non-electrified. Nostalgic diesel rail cars, namely the KiHa 200 series, are the main fleet on the track. 14 units in total were built from 1961 to 1977 by Nippon Sharyo. They are currently rather old, but still maintained in good condition. This rail car has a Shinko Engineering's 180PS/1500rpm diesel engine with a hydraulic transmission system. Its maximum speed is 95 kilometers per hour.

For your information, on April 24th, Kominato launched a second-hand diesel railcar on their track. It's the ex-JR East KiHa 40 series once operated on the Ban-etsu West line. I'm going to report on this Kominato's new diesel rail car in the near future.

Carp streamers at the entrance of Ichihara Quad Forest

Official movies of Kominato Railway:

Friday, 21 May 2021

Preserved Electric Car in Ibigawa Town: Part 2

Electric car Mo 755 of the Nagoya Railway 750 series
Because of the 3rd state of emergency caused by the new coronavirus, I refrain from any non-essential and non-urgent outings. I have no choice but to continue introducing trains from photos I recently rediscovered on my hard disk. Ibigawa is a small town in Gifu Prefecture, about 420 kilometers west of Tokyo. I visited this countryside in 2016 to see two old electric cars preserved in an abolished station. I've already introduced one of them, namely Mo 514, so, I'm going to introduce another one named Mo 755 today.

Mo 755 was operated on the Nagoya Railway in the past. It was built by Nippon Sharyo in 1928 as one of the DeSeHo 750 series (later Mo 750 series) electric cars. Ten cars of the DeSeHo 750 series in total were built at the time, but only Mo 755 is preserved perfectly in its original form. Mo 755 is a semi-steel car with a length of 15 meters. The electric motors, the electric control system and the bogies were domestically made, but their technologies were imported from the U.K. (The English Electric Co., Ltd.) and USA (Baldwin Locomotive Works).

This precious electric car was operated on the Tanigumi line of the Nagoya Railway until 2001, and preserved in the yard of ex-Tanigumi station. In other words, Mo 755 electric car and the Tanigumi line were both abolished in 2001. The gauge size of the Tanigumi line was 1,067 millimeters and the electric system was 600 V DC overhead.

The interior of Mo 755

Monday, 17 May 2021

Opening of the Urban Aerial Lift in Yokohama City

Yokohama Air Cabin

I recently visited Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture, as I had something to do. After finishing my meeting, I stopped by the Minato-Mirai area to see an urban-type aerial lift line, which was freshly opened on April 22nd, 2021.

The new aerial lift is called "Yokohama Air Cabin". It's a single rope - automatic circulation type gondola lift. Connecting Sakuragicho and Unga Park stations, its route length is 630 meters. The highest points is about 40 meters above the ground. There are five struts on the route. The gondolas are built by Nippon Cable. They are operated clockwise with a speed of 2.5 meters per second. It takes five minutes to go one way. Each gondola has an air conditioner, and can accommodate up to eight passengers. 36 cabins in total are operated. Although it was during the Covid-19 pandemic, 50 passengers were getting in line, so, I gave up the ride, and just took a gondola photo.

For your information, Yokohama is located about 25 km south of Tokyo, and is the main city of Kanagawa Prefecture. It's the second largest city in Japan in population after Tokyo. Yokohama was developed rapidly as Japan's prominent port city after opening up the country in the 19th century, because while it was being opened, the government aggressively accepted Western culture and technology. You can still see, for example, the historic ex-red brick warehouse in the Minato Mirai area. It's currently popular among visitors as a fashionable shopping mall.

The historic ex-red brick warehouse in the Minato Mirai area
Official information about Yokohama Air Cabin:

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Vast Cemetery on the Gotemba Line

EMU Odakyu 60000 series (MSE) travels on the Odakyu line

I recently visited my Grandma's grave with my family, and offered flowers. My Grandma passed away several years ago at the age of 103. She lived a long healthy life.

Her grave is situated in Fuji Reien (Fuji Cemetery), Shizuoka Prefecture. It's at the southern foot of Mt. Fuji. Fuji Reien is known as a vast cemetery. About seventy thousand divisions in total are located on the gentle slopes. They are surrounded by beautiful forests. The main street of the cemetery is very wide and famous for its cherry trees. This year's cherry blooming season was over, but we could see large cherry trees with young green leaves along the street. Pink colored azaleas have just started blooming at the center of the street.

To visit Fuji Reien, the nearest railway station is Gotemba on the JR Central Gotemba line. For passengers from downtown Tokyo to Gotemba, a direct train, "Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji)", is convenient. Fuji-san train starts from Shinjuku terminal on the Odakyu line, and is directly operated onto the JR Central Gotemba line to Gotemba terminal. The recently commissioned model for Fuji-san train is the EMU Odakyu 60000 series, MSE (Multi Super Express). MSE was launched in 2008 as a multi-purpose Romance Car. The train body is a metallic blue color with red and white colored stripes. It's composed of ten cars, but one set can be broken up into six and four car sections to enhance operational flexibility. For Fuji-san train, 6-car trains are used.

Main street of Fuji Cemetery

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Thunderbird Limited Express Train in Kyoto City

EMU JR West 683-4000 series, limited express Thunderbird
Following the EMU 205 series, I'm going to show you the other JR West's train, which I found in Kyoto station last year.

The EMU 683-4000 series is a limited express train operated as "Thunderbird". It was launched in 2009 to replace an old limited express train, the 485 series. One set is composed of three motorcars and six trailers. Twelve sets in total were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. It's an AC-DC dual system train with a maximum speed of 130 km per hour. 255 kW induction motors with an IGBT-VVVF inverter (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) electric control system are equipped on the train. The modification of the 683-4000 series was started in 2015. The blue and black colored stripes were added on the bodies. The interior modifications such as new reclining seats and easy-access toilets were also conducted.

Thunderbird limited express train is operated between Osaka and Wakura-onsen via Kyoto station. The total operating distance is 338.6 kilometers. The trains run every 30 to 60 minutes. According to JR West, the train name, Thunderbird, officially came from a legendary bird in North America of the same name; however, I think it came from the British science-fiction TV series, Thunderbirds, which has been repeatedly broadcast throughout Japan since the middle 1960s. The reason commonly mentioned to support this was JR West's TV commercial when the Thunderbird limited express debuted. As you might guess, the Thunderbird marionette puppetry was played in the TV commercial.

EMU JR West 683-4000 series, limited express Thunderbird, leaves Kyoto station

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Dragon Palace Station: Part 2

Odakyu Katase-Enoshima station (Dragon Palace station)

On my way back from Kamakura, I took the Odakyu-Enoshima line from Katase-Enoshima terminal. Katase-Enoshima is a unique station opened in 1929. The station building was constructed with Dragon Palace in mind. I introduced the night view of this unique station eight years ago. So, I'm going to show you the daytime view this time.

What's Dragon Palace? It appears in Japanese folklore, "Urashima Taro". A fisherman, Urashima Taro, helped a turtle, who was tortured by children on a beach. The turtle expressed his (or her) thanks to Taro, and invited him to Dragon Palace, where the sea-god lived. Dragon Palace was located under the sea. It was built from red and white corals. Taro spent three days there, enjoying parties; but, time flew while he was having fun. One day in the palace was equal to a century outside the palace. So, when Taro returned to his village, he became an old man.

Dragon Palace station was beautifully shining under the spring sun. The vehicle that left and arrived at the palace wasn't the turtle but the Odakyu trains. The EMU 30000 series, EXE, is a representative train. EXE is the first multipurpose Romance Car on the Odakyu lines. It was commissioned in 1996 to replace the old model, the 3100 series. Since one set of the train is composed of ten cars, it has a greatly increased passenger capacity. One set can be broken up into six and four car sections to enhance operational flexibility as a multipurpose Romance Car.

EMU Odakyu 30000 series (Romance Car EXE) stands at Katase-Enoshima station

Saturday, 1 May 2021

My Favorite Train in the Historic City

Set 501 of the EMU Enoden 500 series (left)
I recently visited Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, as something came up. Kamakura, about 40 kilometers south of Tokyo, is known as a historic city where the Bakufu (shogunate government) was located from 1185 to 1333. This city is facing the Pacific Ocean to the south; meanwhile, there are steep mountains to the north, east and west as a natural fortification in the samurai (warrior) era. To visit Kamakura, I took the Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden) line from Enoshima station.

Enoden is a local tram line connecting Fujisawa and Kamakura stations. Its operating length is only 10 kilometers. The track is 1,067 millimeter-size single, and its electric system is 600 volts DC overhead. Trains are operated every 12 minutes during the daytime, but it's always crowded with sightseers, local people, and high school students.

Taking this opportunity, I'm going to introduce my favorite model on the Enoden line. It's the EMU 500 series, which was launched in 2006. Two sets, four cars in total, were built by Tokyu Sharyo. It's a two-car train with an articulated bogie. Its overall length is only 25.4 meters. The body is stainless steel. An IGBT-VVVF inverter (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) electric control system with induction motors are adopted to promote energy savings. The 500 series also has a regenerative brake system to save electric power. The rounded body design of the 500 series is definitely my cup of tea, but it's unfortunate that the 500 series is always coupled with the other models.

Set 502 of the EMU Enoden 500 series