Thursday, 30 September 2021

Q-SEAT Car on the Oimachi Line

EMU 6020 series, including orange-colored Q-SEAT car, arrives at Oimachi station
I recently visited Oimachi on the Tokyu-Oimachi line, as I had a business meeting there. After finishing my meeting, I tried using Q-SEAT car on the Oimachi line on my way back home. What's Q-SEAT car? It's a reserved seat car coupled to the EMU Tokyu 6020 series commuter train.

As I have said repeatedly, Japanese businessmen and businesswomen are very busy. They sometimes need something as a treat for themselves, but their journeys home are hard. Needless to say, urban commuter trains are packed on most of the lines in this country. That's a background to urban reserved seat trains appearing.

Q-SEAT car is in Car 3. It has multi-purpose seats, which the conductor can change from long seats to cross seats using a remote control system. The cross seat mode is applied when it's provided as a Q-SEAT car during rush hour. The fee for a seat reservation is 400 yen. Even in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Q-SEAT car was almost full. It's probably because passengers can keep distance from each other.

Incidentally, the 6020 series was launched in 2018. Same as the 2020 series on the Den-en-toshi line, the 6020 series is characterized by its unique "face". It's white and round. The crescent-shaped accent strikes passengers' eyes. The large cowcatcher integrated with the face also stands out conspicuously. The standard long seat cars of the 6020 series have an orange-colored stripe; meanwhile, the Q-SEAT car has a plain orange-colored body. It's easy to recognize.

Interior of the Q-SEAT car, the EMU Tokyu 6020 series

Official information about the rollingstock of Tokyu Railways (in Japanese):

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Rice Paddy Art on the Chichibu Railway

EMU 5000 series travels on the Chichibu Railway

Do you know rice paddy art? It's an art style using real rice paddies as a canvas. Pictures and words are "painted" with varieties of rice that produce different colors. Artists are farmers and local people. They plant rice in the paddies in spring. After growing, the rice paddies become a giant picture. There are more than 20 rice paddy arts in Japan, but you can see the best example in Gyoda City of Saitama Prefecture, about 60 kilometers north of Tokyo. It's known as the world's largest rice paddy art.

This year's theme of the rice paddy art in Gyoda City is "Revived Japonisme: Ukiyoe and Kabuki". You can see Japanese traditional Ukiyoe paintings and Kabuki plays in the rice paddies. The area of the paddy art is 28,000 square meters. It was planted by 200 local people. To see the paddy art, visitors should climb Ancient Lotus Tower (50 meters in height) in Kodai Hasu no Sato Park. The best observation period is from July to the rice harvest season in September.

To visit this giant paddy art, the nearest railway station is Gyoda-shi (Gyoda City) on the Chichibu Railway. My vehicle was the EMU 5000 series. The 5000 series is originally the Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) 6000 series, which was launched in 1968. 4 sets (12 cars) in total were transferred to Chichibu Railway in 1999 after their retirement from the Toei-Mita line. Currently, 3 sets (9 cars) of the 5000 series are still operated on the track.

Rice paddy art in Gyoda City, Saitama Prefecture

Official VR of the rice paddy art in Gyoda City:
Official information about the rice paddy art in Gyoda City (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Good-bye to the Double-decker Shinkansen Train

EMU JR East E4 series, Max-Toki, leaves Tokyo station on the Joetsu Shinkansen

JR East recently announced that the double-decker Shinkansen (new trunk line) train, the EMU E4 series, will soon be retired from the track.

The E4 series was launched in 1997 as JR East's second generation double-decker Shinkansen train. It's operated on the Joetsu Shinkansen as super-express trains named Max-Toki and Max-Tanigawa. The E4 series consists of 8 cars, which can accommodate 817 seats in one set; so, a maximum of 1,634 seats are available, when two sets of the E4 series trains are connected. It's the world's largest high-speed train. Although its speed is limited to a maximum of 240 kilometers per hour, it's utilized as a dependable monster train to transport large numbers of passengers during rush hour. I sometimes used the E4 series on my business trip to Niigata. The best advantage was its good view from the upstairs window.

Who is the successor of the E4 series? It's the E7 series. Its maximum speed is 260 kilometers per hour... faster than the E4 series, but just a single-decker train. Why? Barrier-free policies might have affected the retirement of the E4 series. As you know, many countries including Japan are promoting a barrier-free society. A double-decker train with stairs wouldn't be suitable for the barrier-free society. We can't go against the global trend.

The last run of the E4 series will be on October 17th. Sayonara (good-bye) and arigato (thank you), the E4 series double-decker Shinkansen train.

"Thank you, Max" sticker is displayed on the body of the E4 series

Official website on the E4 serieshttps://www.jreast.co.jp/niigata/maxlastrun/ 

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Homecoming of Set 3540 Train

3540F of the EMU Shibayama 3500 series travels on the Keisei-Kanamachi line

Shibayama Railway is the shortest railway line in Japan. Connecting Higashi-Narita and Shibayama-Chiyoda, its operating length is only 2.2 kilometers. The track is single and electrified. The gauge size is 1,435 millimeters. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. This short route was opened in 2002. All trains are directly operated onto the Keisei line to Narita, Ueno and so on.

The function of Shibayama Railway is quite unique. It's a compensation for local people after the completion of New Tokyo International (Narita) Airport. In particular, the local area, namely Shibayama, was isolated by the airport, so, Narita International Airport Company constructed a new railway line to connect Shibayama and the downtown Narita City. The railway track passes through the underground of the airport. It doesn't stand out.

I recently came across Shibayama Railway's 4-car train on the Keisei-Kanamachi line. It was set 3540 of the EMU 3500 series. Set 3540 is Shibayama Railway's only train being operated. It was built by Nippon Sharyo in 1973 as Keisei Electric Railway's commuter train, and then leased to Shibayama Railway in 2013. You can easily identify it by "SR (Shibayama Railway)" logo on the front. Its shining stainless-steel bodies with the classical corrugations are my favorite. Its large frontal windows are also cool even though 48 years have already passed since it debuted.

Set 3540 sometimes appears on the Keisei line for operational reasons. It's homecoming to the country of origin temporarily for set 3540. Welcome home.

Emblem of Shibayama Railway (SR)

Official website, Shibayama Railway (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

EMU 18000 Series: New Model on the Hanzomon Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 18000 series travels on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line
Following the 17000 series, I'm going to show you the other Tokyo Metro's new train.

On August 7th, Tokyo Metro, an operator of the subway lines, launched a new train named the EMU 18000 series on their Hanzomon line. The introduction of Tokyo Metro's new model on the Hanzomon line was for the first time in 18 years. Just as the 17000 series on the Yurakucho and Fukutoshin lines, the 18000 series has aluminum alloy bodies. The front face is rounded, and similar to that of the 17000 series. Regarding the technical specifications, the 18000 series also has a full-SiC MOSFET VVVF inverter (variable-frequency drive) electric control system.

What's the difference between the 18000 and the 17000 series? Different from the 17000 series, the 18000 series has purple-colored stripes on their bodies. As you know, purple is the "line color" of the Hanzomon line. The front lights of the 18000 series are also different from those of the 17000 series. The LED lights of the 18000 series are in linear position; meanwhile those of the 17000 series are arranged concentrically. Regarding the technical specifications, the 18000 series has an ATO departure button in the cockpit. ATO (Automatic Train Operation) system will be introduced in the near future, just like the Toei-Ooedo line.

Currently, three sets of the 18000 series are operated on the line. According to Tokyo Metro, 19 sets, 190 cars in total will be built by Hitachi Kasado factory by the fiscal year 2025 to replace the old 8000 series.

EMU Tokyo Metro 18000 series leaves Shibuya station

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 18000 series (in Japanese):

Friday, 10 September 2021

EMU Toei 6300 Series: Update

Set 6330 of the EMU Toei 6300 series arrives at Hasune station on the Mita line

Subway trains are annoying for rail-photo lovers. The major problem is its dark environment on the railway track. I shoot subway trains on the surface tracks during the daytime instead of on underground tracks; but, such "subway" tracks are limited in Tokyo. One such track can be seen on the Toei-Mita line. The Mita line is operated by the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Toei). Connecting Meguro and Nishi-Takashimadaira, its total route length is 26.4 kilometers. 5.4 out of the 26.4 kilometers route is surface track. My favorite shooting spots are Hasune and Nishidai stations. I visited these two station to shoot the EMU Toei 6300 series.

A blue and red striped stainless-steel train named the EMU Toei 6300 series is the representative model on the Mita line. It was launched in 1993 to replace the old model named the 6000 series. 37 sets, 222 cars in total, were built from 1993 to 2000 by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki-sharyo. One set is composed of three motorcars and three trailers (3M3T).

Incidentally, let me introduce one topic with regards to the Mita line here. On October 29th, 2020, the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government made a press release announcing that a new model, the EMU 6500 series, will be launched on the Mita line in the fiscal year 2022. It means that the 6300 series will be replaced by the 6500 series one by one. The time for an alternation of generations is approaching.

Set 6334 of the EMU Toei 6300 series arrives at Nishidai station on the Mita line

Official information about Toei's new model, 6500 series (in Japanese):
Official information about the Toei trains (in Japanese):

Monday, 6 September 2021

The Second Shortest Subway Line in Tokyo

EMU Tokyo Metro 02-80 series stands at Honancho station
I just thought that I had already introduced all of the labyrinthine subway routes in Tokyo in this blog; but there are some left. Today, I'm going to show you the second shortest subway route in Tokyo... the Honancho branch line.

As its name suggests, Honancho branch line is a feeder route of the mainline. The main line is the Marunouchi line, which is the second oldest subway line operated by Tokyo Metro. Connecting Nakano-sakaue on the Marunouchi line and Honancho near Nakano rail yard, the total operating length is only 3.2 kilometers. The entire route is an electrified double track. 3 or 6-car trains are operated every 4 minutes to 6 minutes 40 seconds.

The rolling stock on duty on the line is the EMU 02-80, 02 and the 2000 series. The 02-80 series is a 3-car train operated only on the Honancho branch line; meanwhile, the 02 and 2000 series are 6-car trains, which are directly operated onto the main route of the Marunouchi line. A black-colored stripe is added on the bodies of the short 02-80 series to make it easier to distinguish from the long 02 series.

For your information, ATO (automatic train operation) system has been introduced on the Honancho branch line and the Marunouchi line. The conductor is not on board the train. The driver operates the passenger doors from the cockpit using multiple monitors, and just pushes the ATO start button for departure. He (or she) will just watch the automatic operation.

Side view of the EMU Tokyo Metro 02-80 series

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Art Aquarium Museum on the Tozai Line

EMU JR East E231-800 series stands at Nakano station on the Tozai line

It's still hot in Tokyo. The maximum daytime temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius every day. Because of the COVID-19 calamity, I refrain from non-essential and non-urgent outings. Instead, I searched my hard disk for the previous cool photos for a change. Please look at the following image.

Art Aquarium Museum is a cool spot in Tokyo. I visited there with my family just after its opening. There are numerous goldfish bowls in the museum. Different from educative museums, these goldfish bowls are artistically illuminated. Some people comment that the goldfishes are pathetic because of the strong lighting. I'm not a specialist, so, not in a position to comment on the issue, but at least, the goldfish bowls looked beautiful, fantastic and cool.

To get to Art Aquarium Museum, the nearest station is Nihombashi on the subway Tokyo Metro-Tozai line. Taking this opportunity, I'm going to show you a train, EMU JR East E231-800 series, operated on the Tozai line. The E231-800 series was launched in 2003. 7 sets, 70 cars in total, were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The light and dark-blue colored stripes are good features of this train. As you know, light-blue is the line color of the Tozai line. The E231-800 series is directly operated from the JR East line onto the Tokyo Metro Tozai line. With regard to the technical specifications, the acceleration at start-up of the E231-800 series is 3.5 km/h/s, which is the highest among the E231 series group trains.

Art Aquarium Museum near Nihombashi station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai line