Monday, 30 August 2021

Tama Zoo Train on the Keio Line

Set 7801 of the Keio 7000 series, the 3rd generation Tama Zoo Train

After the Cow Train, then the next post is the Tama Zoo Train.

The Dobutsuen (Zoo) line is a feeder route of the Keio main line. Connecting Takahata-fudo and Tama-dobutsu-koen (Tama zoological park) stations, the route length is only 2 kilometers. The track is single. Keio has been operating a special poster train named the Tama Zoo Train on the line since 2002. The purpose of the Tama Zoo train is to promote tourism to the Tama Zoo. The current Tama Zoo train is the 3rd generation one which debuted in 2020. It's a collaborative project by three theme parks namely Tama Zoo, Keio Rail-land and HUGHUG (an indoor playground for children), so the official name of this poster train is not the Tama Zoo train, but please don't be stiff. It's substantially the 3rd generation Tama Zoo Train. Different from the previous ones, the 3rd generation Tama Zoo train is a vinyl wrapped vehicle. Its pink-colored bodies can be easily recognized from a distance.

Set 7801 of the EMU 7000 series is used for the 3rd generation Tama Zoo train the same as the 2nd generation one. It's a 4-car train built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1993. The 7000 series debuted in 1984 to enhance transportation capacity on the Keio line. 190 carriages in total were built by Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Sharyo. A field chopper electric control system was originally adopted, but it was later changed to the VVVF (variable frequency drive) system with induction motors, as part of a renovation project.

Interior of the Tama Zoo Train

Friday, 27 August 2021

EMU JR East E131 Series: New Model in the Chiba Area

Set R04 of the EMU JR East E131 series arrives at Kashima-jingu station

On March 13th this year, JR East launched a new local train named the EMU E131 series in the Chiba area. The introduction of the newly developed local train in this area was for the first time, indeed, in 51 years. They are operated on the Uchibo, Sotobo, Narita and Kashima lines.

The purpose of the new model development is saving labor. The E131 series enabled a train operation without a conductor. A driver can observe passengers getting on and off in the cockpit. The track facilities maintenance device on the train is also useful. Thanks to the new device, the company doesn't need to secure a special time for fracture point detection on the tracks. 12 sets, 24 carriages in total, of the E131 series were built by J-TREC Niitsu Factory. I'm fond of its front design, which is black with yellow and light blue-colored dots.

JR East plans to launch the E131 series onto the Sagami line in the Kanagawa area as well this autumn. This new model will be also introduced onto the Utsunomiya and the Nikko lines in the Tochigi area by March, 2022. For the above purpose, 27 sets (12 sets of 4-car trains and 15 sets of 3-car trains) of the E131 series will be additionally built. As a result, the present model, namely the 209-2000 and the 209-2100 series, will disappear in the near future.

The E131 series will make a new era on the local lines in the eastern part of Japan.

Set R04 of the EMU JR East E131 series leaves Katori station

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

A Small Topic on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

A host town sticker is displayed on the EMU JR East E233-8000 series

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are over. It was held after one year's delay without spectators because of the COVID-19 calamity. My family had tickets but they were going to waste (with a refund). I changed my mood, and am going to show you a small topic on the Tokyo Olympics.

During the Olympics, many cities were registered as host towns in Japan. Host towns are a nationally-instituted designation given to cities who serve as the "base" for pre-training camps for countries and their athletes who will participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. In addition to sports, host towns aim to promote a long-lasting cultural exchange between their municipality and their guest country that will extend beyond just the summer of 2020. For example, my hometown, Setagaya Ward of the Tokyo Metropolis is a host town of the U.S. team. The horse dressage competition was held in Setagaya Ward. The adjacent Suginami Ward is a host town of the Uzbekistan team and Meguro Ward is that of the Kenya team.

Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture is a host town of the British team. In commemoration of the host town registration and activities, Kawasaki City displays special stickers on the JR East Nambu line trains. You can see the Union Jack and "Thomas & Friends", which is a popular British TV series, on the stainless-steel bodies of the EMU E233-8000 series commuter trains.

Another event, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, is going to be held beginning August, 24th, 2021... today.

EMU JR East E233-8000 series with host town stickers

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Cow Train on the Kodomonokuni Line

Set Y011 of the EMU Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway Y000 series, "Cow Train"

One year has passed since I introduced the Sheep Train on the Kodomonokuni line in this blog. Today, I'm going to show you another poster train being operated on the line.

On October 11th, 2018, Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway Company launched a special poster train named "Cow Train" on their Kodomonokuni line. The purpose of this poster train is to promote tourism to Kodomonokuni (the Children's Land), which is an amusement park located in Yokohama City, some 30 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. The company currently offers one set of their 2-car train, Y011F of the EMU Y000 series, for the second generation poster train. We can see images of cows both on the bodies and the interior of the trains. Each car depicts a cow in the outer design; meanwhile the pastures with cows are drawn in the interior. Needless to say, there are many cows in Kodomonokuni.

For your information, construction of Kodomonokuni started in 1959 in celebration of the marriage of the Crown Prince Akihito (present reigning emperor), and was completed in 1965 by a social welfare corporation, Kodomonokuni Association. Although Kodomonokuni was a popular spot among urban families, there was a big issue... public transportation to get there. Kodomonokuni Association, then, constructed an access railway, the Kodomonokuni line in 1967. It's a short (3.4 kilometers) single track railway connecting Kodomonokuni and Nagatsuta on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi and the JR East Yokohama lines. I was a frequent user of the Kodomonokuni line, when I was a kid.

Interior of the Cow Train

Official information about the Cow Train (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Cafe 107 in Odawara City

Electric car, unit 107 of the MoHa 1 series is preserved in Odawara City

I found a stylish café in Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. It's "107 Cafe" on the National Highway 1. 107 refers to a retired electric car, unit 107, of the Hakone Tozan Railway MoHa 1 series. It's now used as a café for holidaymakers who visit the Hakone Mountains.

The MoHa 1 series was originally launched in 1919 under the name of the ChiKi 1 series. It was then remodeled as the MoHa 1 series in 1950, when the voltage on the section between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto stations was raised from 600 to 1,500 volts. In addition to the replacement of the electric parts, the material of the car bodies was converted from wood to steel. 6 units in total were remodeled by Kisha Kaisha. 2 units (104 and 106) are still operated on the track.

Unit 107 of the MoHa 1 series was retired from the track in 2019 due to deterioration. It was then transferred to Suzuhiro Kamaboko Village in 2020, and opened to visitors as Cafe 107. Unit 107 still retains its classic design with a large rounded light on top of the face. I'm happy to say that unit 107 has air conditioners now. Needless to say, this classic electric car didn't have air conditioners when it was operated on the track.

Visitors can take time to relax on the patio or in the car. This exclusive experience gives them the chance to enjoy the atmosphere of the good old days while tasting drinks and local foods.

Cafe 107 on the National Highway 1

Official information about Cafe 107:

Friday, 13 August 2021

New Model on the Oarai-Kashima Line

Diesel Railcar Kashima Rinkai Railway 8000 series stands at Oarai station yard

Following my previous post, I'm carrying on a recent topic of the Oarai-Kashima line, Kashima Rinkai Railway.

On March 26th 2016, the company launched a new diesel railcar named 8000 series. The introduction of a new model was for the first time in 31 years on the Oarai-Kashima line. The purpose of this new model was to replace the decrepit model, 6000 series. Six carriages in total were built by Niigata Transys from 2016 to 2020.

With regard to the technical specifications, the 8000 series has a 20 meter-long steel body and a diesel engine, which was manufactured by IHI Power Systems, with a 330 PS / 2000 rpm output. The transmission system is hydraulic. The 8000 series is often operated with two cars, but can't be coupled with the 6000 series. It's because the 8000 series has an electric command pneumatic brake. In other words, these two models have different braking systems.

As you may know, the old 6000 series has cross seats and four passenger doors per carriage. It's comfortable for tourists. Different from the 6000 series, the new 8000 series has six passenger doors per carriage and only long seats. It might be good for local commuters and high school students for smooth getting on and off, but a bit boring for a tourist like me to be honest. To get a taste of what a holiday feels like, I prefer the 6000 series to the 8000 series. Sorry, this is entirely just my own personal opinion.

Side view of the diesel railcar Kashima Rinkai Railway 8000 series

Official information about the rollingstock, Kashima Rinkai Railway (in Japanese):

Monday, 9 August 2021

The 35th Anniversary of the Oarai-Kashima Line

Diesel railcar, unit 6010 of the 6000 series, Kashima Rinkai Railway

I recently visited Kashima Rinkai Railway for the first time in five years. What's new with this local railway in Ibaraki Prefecture?

It's not the most recent, but in March, 2020, the company celebrated its 35th anniversary of the Oarai-Kashima line. Going back to the history of Kashima Rinkai Railway, it was established as a freight railway company in 1969. The company firstly opened a freight line named the Kashima-rinko line (19.2 kilometers) in 1970, then the company opened a passenger line, namely the Oarai-Kashima line in 1985. Connecting Mito, a major city in the prefecture and Kashima-jingu, the operating length of the Oarai-Kashima line is 53 kilometers. The track is single and non-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. Diesel railcars are operated every 20 to 90 minutes. Local people, specifically high school students, are the main users of the Oarai-Kashima line.

The main fleet for passenger transportation is the 20 meters-long diesel railcar, 6000 series, launched in 1985. 19 carriages in total were built by Nippon Sharyo and Niigata Tekko from 1985 to 1993. Eleven carriages are still operated on the line. It has a 230PS/1,900rpm with a liquid transmission. The maximum speed is 95 kilometers per hour. It can accommodate up to 120 passengers. The red colored body with a white colored stripe is the symbol of this railway company. The 6000 series has four doors and semi-cross seats.

In 2016, the company launched a new model, the 8000 series. I'm going to introduce it next time.

The 35th Anniversary poster of the Oarai-Kashima line

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Blue and Red Colors in Kodaira City

Set 9103 of the EMU Seibu 9000 series travels on the Tamako line in Kodaira City

The Japan Meteorological Agency made an announcement that this year's rainy season ended on July 16th in Tokyo. The mid-summer has begun. Under the strong sunlight, I visited a local farm in Kodaira City of Tokyo Metropolis with my family. My purpose of the visit was for blueberry picking. My eyes have lately been very tired. I heard that blueberries are good for the eyes, so, blueberry picking would improve my health. We could pick many blueberries there.

On my way back home, we took the Seibu-Tamako line. I came across a rare train, set 9103 of the EMU 9000 series at Omekaido station. The 9000 series was launched in 1993 reusing the old equipment of the retired 101 series. 80 cars in total were built by the Seibu Tokorozawa Factory. Set 9103 was once known as the Lucky Red Train on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line. That was the exchange of color designs and a mark of friendship between Seibu Railway and Keikyu Electric Railway. The Lucky Red Train was then cut short from a 10-car to a 4-car train this year, and moved to the Tamako line. The body color was slightly changed from red to dark red, like a tomato. The new red color is my favorite and I'm fond of this tomato-colored train.

Finally, I found another red-colored monument in Kodaira City. It was Japan's tallest barrel-type mailbox constructed by Japan Post Company to promote postal services. This mailbox is actually used by people. Kodaira is the blue and red-colored city, isn't it?

Japan's largest mailbox in Kodaira City

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Hokuto: Northern Limited Express Train

DMU JR Hokkaido KiHa 261-1000 series stands at Shinhakodate-Hokuto station

Our special holidays ended all too soon. After four days of our traveling on Hokkaido Island, we had to start homeward. On our way back home, we used JR Hokkaido's limited express train "Hokuto" on the Hakodate main line.

The train name "Hokuto" comes from the Big Dipper. As you know, the Big Dipper is a constellation pointing to the polar star. By extension, Hokuto is a representative train in the northern part of Japan. In fact, Hokuto is operated between Hakodate and Sapporo. They are major cities in Hokkaido, which is the northernmost island of Japan. When we visited Hokkaido Island in 2013, the DMU KiHa 281 series was commissioned as Hokuto. This time, not only the 281 series, but also a new model, the DMU KiHa 261-1000 series, was operated as Hokuto. The 261-1000 series was launched in 2006. It was then introduced onto the Hakodate main line as the limited express Hokuto in 2016. JR Hokkaido plans that all the Hokuto limited express trains will be operated by the 261-1000 series by March, 2023.

What are the differences between the older 281 and the newer 261-1000 series? With regard to the interior and the passenger services, they are almost the same. As to the technical specifications, a new technology, namely an air suspension type tilting system, is applied to the 261-1000 series instead of a pendulum type tilting system on the 281 series. The air suspension type tilting system is probably better value for the cost than the pendulum type tilting system.

DMU JR Hokkaido KiHa 261-1000 series arrives at Shinhakodate-Hokuto station

Official information about the limited express train, Hokuto:
Official information about the limited express train, Hokuto (in Japanese):