Sunday, 7 August 2022

New Train on the JR East-Nikko Line

EMU JR East E131-600 series travels on the Nikko line

On March 12th this year, JR East launched a new model, named EMU E131-600 series, on the Nikko line. Introduction of the new train was for the first time in nine years on the line.

Let me quickly review the Nikko line. Nikko is a popular resort area, some 130 kilometers north of Tokyo. Shrines and temples in the region are registered as World Heritages. There're two railway routes from downtown Tokyo to Nikko. One is the Tobu Railway, while another is the JR East. If you take the JR East Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo station, you should transfer to the Nikko line at Utsunomiya station. Connecting Utsunomiya and Nikko, the route length of the Nikko line is 40.5 kilometers. The track is single and electrified (1,500V DC). The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters.

Let's head to the main topic. The new train, E131-600 series, is the "younger brother" of the existing E131-0 and the E131-500 series. Different from the two "older brothers", the E131-600 series has brown and yellow-colored stripes. This color design was inspired by the float dedicated to the deity in a local festival. In addition, this new train has a defrosting pantograph, as the Nikko line is located in the cold region.

The E131-600 series is the 3-car train. 15 sets in total were built by J-TREC Niitsu factory. As a result, the existing trains, 205-600 series, had to be retired from the track. Goodbye, the 205-600 series. You did a fine job for a long time.

EMU JR East E131-600 series leaves Shimotsuke-Osawa station

Official information about the EMU JR East E131-600 series (in Japanese):
Official information about the JR East trains (in Japanese):

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Oldest School for the Common People

EMU JR West 223-2000 series stands at Himeji station on the Sanyo main line

I would like to describe the memory of my travel for a chance. When I took a trip to Himeji City in March this year, I went a little way further to Bizen City in Okayama Prefecture. My destination was a special historic spot, the former Shizutani school.

Shizutani school was the oldest public school for common people in Japan. It was established by the lord of Okayama province, Ikeda Mitsumasa in 1670. He thought that it was a suitable place for leadership training, as here was wonderful peaceful nature. Shizutani school was open to not only children of the "samurai" class but also common people. Children from other domains were also accepted. Tuition and dormitory fees were free. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this historic spot constructed 350 years ago.

I can't be written off here as this is a railway blog. To visit Shizutani school, the nearest railway station was Yoshinaga on the JR West Sanyo main line. Because there was no direct train, I firstly took a train for an intermediate station, Aboshi, from Himeji station. My vehicle was the EMU JR West 223-2000 series. You can see two "ears" on the front of the train. What for? They are guard screens to prevent passengers from falling off the platform edge. They are specifically useful when two trains are coupled. JR West has been installing these guard screens following the fall accident in 2010. They don't look good, but it can't be helped, considering the safety of passengers.

Special historic spot, former Shizutani school

Monday, 1 August 2022

JR East Narita Express (N'EX): Update

EMU JR East E259 series, "Narita Express (N'EX)", heads to Tokyo

The Japan Meteorological Agency made an announcement that this year's rainy season ended on June 27th in Tokyo, which was the fastest on record. Was it an effect of global warming? I don't know, but anyhow, 2022 mid-summer has been going on since one month ago. People want to enjoy the summer vacation, but it isn't easy because a new COVID-19 variant "omicron" is spreading across the country.

Airline companies are facing difficulties. Accordingly, railway companies, which have airport access routes, are also in a tough situation. JR East is no exception. 35% of the airport access "Narita Express (N'EX)" trains are temporarily suspended due to decreasing passengers. As you know, the EMU JR East E259 series has been operated as N'EX train since 2009. It's so painful seeing that many sets of the E259 series are "sleeping" here and there in JR East's railyards all day long.

For your information, there're two international airports in the Tokyo metropolitan area, namely Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) and New Tokyo International Airport (Narita). If you arrive at the Narita airport, you can choose from two railway routes to get to the downtown Tokyo area. One of them is the JR East line and another one is the Keisei line. JR East operates N'EX; meanwhile Keisei has its flagship model, Skyliner. It's hard to choose between the two, but in my opinion, N'EX is more convenient to access many sub-centers of Tokyo directly; meanwhile, Skyliner is cheaper and faster to the downtown area.

EMU JR East E259 series, "Narita Express (N'EX)", heads to Narita Airport

Official website, JR East Narita Express (N'EX):

Friday, 29 July 2022

Test Run of Green Cars on the Chuo Rapid Line

Test run of Set H57 coupled with double-decker "Green Cars"

I recently came across a precious scene on the JR East Chuo Rapid line. It was the first test run of the Chuo Rapid line train with Green Cars (first-class cars).

To start, let me quickly review the Chuo Rapid line. It's one of the busiest railway line in Tokyo. Connecting Tokyo and Takao, the route length is 53 kilometers. 10-car trains are operated every two minutes in the morning, but the congestion rate, which is defined by the number of passengers divided by the carrying capacity, is 184% (as of 2017)... very high!

Now, let's head to the main topic. To reduce congestion, JR East plans to increase the number of cars from ten to twelve per train set. It means that two cars will be increased. These two cars will not be standard cars, but Green Cars (first-class cars). Why? That's because many passengers request to get seats on the train on the way to and from work, even if they pay extra. It's also favorable to the railway company to increase their sales... a win-win solution.

For the test run, two Green Cars, namely Saro E233-1 and E232-1, are connected with set H57 of the EMU E233 series. You can see the two double-decker Green Cars in the photo above. The test run was successful, but the commercial operation of Green Cars on the Chuo Rapid line is scheduled to begin in 2025. It takes so long to provide a simple service due to the global chip shortage.

Standard set (H55) of the EMU JR East E233 series without Green Cars

Official information about Green Cars on the Chuo Rapid line (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

The Shin-Keisei Line: Update

N858F of the EMU Shin-Keisei N800 series arrives at Kunugidai station

I recently visited the Shin-Keisei line for the first time in two years. What's new with this local railway?

Let me quickly review the Shin-Keisei line to start. Shin-Keisei (New Keisei) is a private railway company in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. It's an affiliate firm of Keisei Electric Railway Company. Connecting Matsudo on the JR East Joban line and Tsudanuma on the Keisei main line, there are 24 stations over a total operating length of 26.5 kilometers. The track gauge is 1,435 millimeters and the electric system is 1,500V DC overhead. The Shin-Keisei line had a unique history in early times. It was constructed as a training line by the Railway Regiment of the ex-Japanese Army in 1929. After WWII, the track was sold to Keisei Electric Railway Company, and reopened as the Shin-Keisei line in 1947.

Let's head to the main topic. I realized that the old model-cars, EMU 8000 series, had disappeared from the track. I liked the 8000 series as it had unique "owl faces". It was Japan's first train, which had a variable-frequency drive electric control system. The 8000 series debuted in 1978, and was retired from the track in 2021. I also found that all the trains had new colored bodies... pink and pure white stripes. It was my first time to see the EMU N800 series with the new colored bodies. I like the new design, but the staff of train maintenance may need to wash the trains frequently, as pure white stains easily.

N838F of the EMU Shin-Keisei N800 series arrives at Kunugidai station

Saturday, 23 July 2022

EMU 6500 Series: New Model on the Toei-Mita Line

6508F of the EMU Toei 6500 series travels on the Mita line

On May 14th, the Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (hereafter Toei) launched a new train, the EMU 6500 series, on their Mita line. Introduction of the new model-cars was for the first time in 22 years on the line.

Let me quickly review the Mita line to start. There are two subway operators in Tokyo. One is Tokyo Metro, and the other one is Toei. The Toei-Mita line connects Meguro in the western part of downtown and Nishi-Takashimadaira, a large apartment complex area in the northern suburb of Tokyo. There are 27 stations on the 26.4 kilometers route.

Let's head to the main topic, the new model, the EMU Toei 6500 series. The 6500 series is planned to directly operate onto the Tokyu-Shin-Yokohama line, which will be inaugurated in March 2023. Different from Toei's old model, namely the 6300 series, one set is composed of 8 cars... two cars increased. Toei plans to introduce 13 sets of the 6500 series by March 2023. The 6500 series has 20 meter-long aluminum alloy bodies with a blue-colored stripe. The most distinctive feature is its angular front design. Many rail-fans point out that it's similar to the logo of a Japanese stationery manufacturer, "King Jim". Getting wind of this rumor, Toei surprisingly teamed up with King Jim and a toy manufacturer. They're jointly selling toys and document folders that symbolize the 6500 series.

Toei (a public office) also has to contribute to sales. Red tape and inflexible rules are something that happened in the past.

6507F stands at Nishidai station on the Toei-Mita line

Official information about the EMU 6500 series (in Japanese):
Official announcement, the joint sales of toys and document folders that symbolize the 6500 series (in Japanese):
https://www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp/pickup_information/news/pdf/2022/sub_p_2022042510446_h_01.pdf

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

EMU Tobu 1720 Series, “Deluxe Romance Car”: Part 2

MoHa1726 of the EMU Tobu 1720 series is preserved in the Iwatsuki Joshi Park

Let me continue from where I left off my post on June 25th. I enjoyed observing "Deluxe Romance Car (DRC)", the EMU Tobu 1720 series, in Tobu Museum; however, dissatisfaction was left for me, because the exhibit was just a half-cut of one top car. How should I work my frustration off? My answer was to look for a complete exhibit of DRC.

My next destination was Iwatsuki Joshi Park in Saitama City, some 40 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Iwatsuki Joshi Park is the only place where a "complete" top car of DRC is preserved. It's a municipal park being managed by Saitama City. Unit MoHa1726 of DRC is preserved in a corner of the vast park. MoHa1726 was built by Nippon Sharyo in 1960. After operating for 31 years, it was retired from the track in 1991. MoHa1726 was then donated from Tobu Railway to Iwatsuki City (present Saitama City) in 1994. The carrying expenses from Tobu Railway to Iwatsuki Joshi Park were supported by two local benefactors.

I was really impressed that MoHa1726 is in a good state of preservation despite being outdoors. I had the deepest respect for the preservation work of Saitama City and the local people in the past 28 years. Thanks to the dedicated preservation work, I could fully enjoy observing the nostalgic body design with a large front hood, the dense underfloor equipment such as an array of resistors and the lovely mushroom-type rooftop air conditioners. I was more than satisfied!

Side view of MoHa1726

Sunday, 17 July 2022

The Yurikamome Line: Update

Set 58 of the EMU 7500 series arrives at Ariake-tennis-no-mori station

I recently visited the Yurikamome line for the first time in three years. What's new with this Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) in the Tokyo Bay area?

Let me quickly review the Yurikamome line to start. Yurikamome (Black-headed Gull) is a rubber-tyred AGT line connecting Shimbashi and Toyosu. There're 16 stations over the total operating length of 14.7 kilometers. The train on the line is 51.1 meters long, and consists of six cars. The power supply is 600V and 50Hz three-phase alternate current. There's no driver on the train, so, passengers can freely sit on the front seats to enjoy scenic views through the window.

Let's head to the main topic. I found that all the old trains, namely the EMU 7000 and 7200 series, had already been retired from the track. Instead, the number of the latest model, namely the 7500 series, has greatly increased. Currently, eight sets of the 7500 series are operated on the line together with the previously-existing 7300 series. Technical specifications of the 7500 series are almost the same as the 7300 series, but a different point from the 7300 series is the frontal design. You can see blue-colored "driver-less operation lights". They are lighted when the train is operated in driver-less operation mode.

When I stopped by Ariake-tennis-no-mori station, the 7500 series train arrived at the station. I found a little rail-fan standing on the front seat of the train. He was all smiles, and taking in a scenic overlook of the front view. Enjoy your time!

Set 55 of the EMU Yurikamome 7500 series

Official information, the trains on the Yurikamome line (in Japanese):

Thursday, 14 July 2022

The 40th Anniversary of Tohoku Shinkansen

Set J66 of the EMU JR East E2 series with the revival colored bodies

On June 23rd, JR East celebrated the 40th anniversary of Tohoku Shinkansen. In commemoration of the anniversary, the company launched a train with revival colored bodies.

Let me quickly review Tohoku Shinkansen to start. "Shinkansen" is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. Nine routes (3,041 kilometers) in total are operated by five JR group companies. Tohoku Shinkansen was opened as the third Shinkansen route on June 23rd, 1982, between Omiya and Morioka stations. Currently, its route length is 713.7 kilometers between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori terminals. The track gauge is 1,435 millimeters. The electric system is 20,000 V and 50 Hz AC. The maximum operating speed is 320 kilometers per hour.

Let's head to the main topic, "revival colored Shinkansen train (set J66 of the E2 series)". When Tohoku Shinkansen was opened, the EMU 200 series was commissioned as a Shinkansen train. It had cream-colored bodies with green-colored stripes. The 200 series was unfortunately retired in 2013, but these brilliant colored bodies came back as the revival colored train borrowing the bodies of the E2 series. JR East kindly discloses the timetable of the revival colored train on their website for passengers and rail-fans, so, I was happy to see this train in Tokyo terminal last week. It was operated as Yamabiko (echo) super-express between Tokyo and Sendai stations on that day. It's very nostalgic, and not weird at all. The coupled state with the EMU E3 series was also attractive.

The Shinkansen era is going to continue.

Coupled state of the E2 (revival colored) and the E3 (standard color) series trains

JR East's official website, "Shinkansen Year 2022" (in Japanese):

Monday, 11 July 2022

EMU 4000 Series: New Model on the Blue Line

Set 4621 of the EMU 4000 series arrives at Kaminagaya station on the Blue line.

On May 2nd, the Transportation Bureau, City of Yokohama launched a new train, EMU 4000 series, on their Blue line. Introduction of the new model-cars was for the first time in 5 years on the line.

Let me quickly review the Blue line to start. Yokohama is a giant city in the metropolitan area. It's the second largest city in Japan in population (3.7 million) after Tokyo. Subway lines are the major transportation arteries in the city. There're two lines namely the Blue line and the Green line being operated by the Transportation Bureau. The Blue line is the first subway route in the city. It was partially opened in 1972 between Kami-Ooka and Isesaki-Chojamachi (5.2 kilometers). Currently, there're 32 stations over the total operating length of 40.4 kilometers between Shonandai and Azamino terminals. The track gauge is 1,435 millimeters. The electric system is 750 V DC. The electric collecting system is the third rail without pantograph.

Let's head to the main topic, the EMU 4000 series. It was introduced to the Blue line to replace the old model, EMU 3000A series. Currently, only one set of the 6-car train is operated, but the Transportation Bureau plans to introduce seven more sets by March 2024. The 4000 series has 18 meter-long stainless-steel bodies with blue-colored stripes. The edgy body with use of many flat planes gives us a sharp impression. The vertical front lights are also fresh.

The 4000 series will soon be the symbol of the Blue line.


Set 4621 of the EMU 4000 series stands at Mitsuzawa-shimocho station.

Official information about the EMU 4000 series (in Japanese):

Friday, 8 July 2022

8610F: Nostalgic Train in Indonesia

8610F of the ex-Tokyu 8500 series arrives at Manggarai station, Jakarta, Indonesia
(Photo: Faris Fadhli) 

I've received a nostalgic train picture from an Indonesian railfan. It's set 8610 (hereafter 8610F) of the EMU ex-Tokyu 8500 series being operated in Jakarta, Indonesia. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the photograph.

Let me quickly review the EMU Tokyu 8500 series to start. The 8500 series debuted in Japan in 1975, when the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line trains started to be directly operated onto the subway Hanzomon line. It's a direct current commuter train with a field chopper electric control system. 400 cars in total were built by Tokyu Sharyo until 1991. One set is operated on the Den-en-toshi line even now; meanwhile, 8 sets, 64 cars in total, were transferred to Indonesia from 2006 to 2009 as second-hand trains. Three sets, namely 8604F, 8618F and 8610F, are still operated on the local railway in Jakarta. All three sets are currently composed of 12 cars.

Let's head to the main topic, namely 8610F. When I lived in Indonesia from 2007 to 2011, 8610F had blue, yellow and white-colored stripes. I still remember that the train face of 8610F looked like a professional wrestler wearing a lovely mask. Whenever I came across 8610F, I got a chuckle out of its face. Eleven years has passed since then, 8610F currently has a red -colored face with red, yellow and white-colored stripes. Protection nets on the front have been removed. It looks rather old, but still alive and well. I miss 8610F and my days in Jakarta.

8610F arrives at Gambir station, Jakarta, Indonesia. (December, 2010)

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Asano: The Urban Countryside Station

EMU JR East 205-1100 series arrives at Asano station on the Tsurumi line

Along with Tokyo, Yokohama is a super-high-density city in the metropolitan area. It's the second largest city in Japan in population after Tokyo. As of January 1, 2022, it has a population of 3.7 million.

In contrast to the city center of Yokohama, there are several spacy areas in the city. They are industrial suburbs on the coast of Tokyo Bay. Take for example Asano's case. It's a quiet area surrounded by large factories and public parks. To get to Asano, JR East Tsurumi line is convenient. It was originally opened as a freight line in 1926 by Tsurumi Rinko Railway. Currently, the Tsurumi line belongs to East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and both the freight and passenger trains are operated on the line.

Asano is a junction station of the Tsurumi line and the Umishibaura branch line. The station building is small and unmanned. Passengers just put up a prepaid card to pass through the entrance gate of the station. Platforms of the two lines are separated. During the daytime, trains are operated at a pace of about half an hour on the Tsurumi line; meanwhile, every once an hour on the Umishibaura branch line. There are only a few passengers.

The main fleet of the Tsurumi line is a 3-car train of the EMU 205-1100 series. The yellow and light blue colored stripes are distinct accents of these trains. I was relaxed, and enjoyed the urban countryside atmosphere at Asano station on the Tsurumi line.

The 205-1100 series arrives at Asano station on the Umishibaura branch line

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Preserved Streetcar in Tobu Museum

A streetcar, set 203 of the Tobu 200 series, is exhibited in Tobu Museum

After observing a historical steam locomotive, Class B1, in the exhibition hall of Tobu Museum, I moved to the outdoor exhibition area. What first jumped to my eyes was a lovely streetcar, Tobu 200 series, which had been operated on the Nikko tramway.

Let me quickly review the Nikko tramway. It was a tram route partially opened by Nikko Tramway Company in 1910. The route was then fully opened between Nikko-ekimae and Umagaeshi terminals in 1913. The total route length was 9.6 kilometers. The track was 1,067 millimeter-size single and electrified. The electric system was 600 V DC overhead. The main objective of this tramline was to transport tourists to famous sightseeing spots such as Toshogu-temple and Futarasan-shrine. Nikko Tramway Company was taken over by Tobu Railway in 1947. The tramline was unfortunately abolished in 1968 owing to the progress of motorization.

The streetcar, Tobu 200 series, was launched in 1954 to reinforce the transportation capacity on the Nikko tramway. It's an articulated two-car tram, 18.55 meters long, 2.2 meters wide, and 3.702 meters high. 6 sets in total were built by Kisha-seizo. Each set can accommodate up to 150 passengers. With regard to the technical specifications, the 200 series had a dynamic brake system, as the Nikko tramway was a steep mountainous route. After operating for 14 years, the 200 series was retired from the track in 1968, when the Nikko tramway was abolished. Only one set, namely set 203, is preserved in Tobu Museum.

Interior of the Tobu 200 series

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Preserved Steam Locomotive in Tobu Museum

Unit 5 of the SL Class Tobu B1 is exhibited in the Tobu Museum

After observing a preserved limited express train, the EMU 1720 series, I moved to the indoor exhibition hall in Tobu Museum. One of the interesting exhibitions in the hall was a historical steam locomotive (SL), Unit 5 of Class B1.

Class B1 was Tobu's first SL. It was launched in 1899, when the Tobu line was opened. 6 units in total were imported from Beyer, Peacock and Company Limited, UK, in 1898 and 1907. Class B1 is a 4-4-0 (Whyte notation) type SL that has a tender attached. It's 14.217 meters long, 2.305 meters wide, and 3.658 meters high. It weighs 31.4 tons except for the tender. The driving wheel diameter is 1,372 millimeters. Technical specifications of Class B1 are almost the same as those of the ex-Japanese National Railways' Class 5500, but the boiler pressure of Class B1 was decreased from 11.3 to 10.5 kilograms per square centimeter.

After operating for over 60 years, Class B1 was retired from the track in 1963. Two units, namely Unit 5 and 6, are currently exhibited in Tobu Museum. Unit 5 is restored to its original form, and exhibited in the indoor hall; meanwhile, Unit 6 is preserved as its appearance when it was retired, and exhibited outside the hall. The slim body with a gold-colored steam dome made of brass is very beautiful. The red-colored and bow-shaped name plate on the splasher of the first driving wheel attracts the visitor's attention. I fully enjoyed this precious SL in Tobu Museum.

To be continued...

Back view of the SL Class Tobu B1

Official website of Tobu Museum: https://www.tobu.co.jp/museum/en/

Saturday, 25 June 2022

EMU Tobu 1720 Series, “Deluxe Romance Car”

Tobu "Deluxe Romance Car" is preserved in the Tobu Museum

After taking pictures of "Spacia" trains, I stopped by the Tobu Museum adjacent to Higashi-Mukojima station for the first time in 9 years.

The EMU 1720 series, also known as "Deluxe Romance Car (hereinafter referred to as DRC)" was Tobu's former flagship train. It was a superstar before "Spacia", EMU 100 series. DRC was launched in 1960 to compete with the Japanese National Railways (present JR East). As I posted before, railway companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area have been in competition to attract passengers. Tobu and the Japanese National Railways were no exception. They were competing for tourists to Nikko resort. Tobu developed a gorgeous limited express train for that purpose. For example, DRC had a special lounge equipped with a jukebox. It also had a dining car. The seat pitch was long enough with a foot rest. 9 set, 54 cars in total, were built by Nippon Sharyo and Naniwa Koki.

When I was a kid, my parents once put me on DRC to visit Nikko resort. It was a heavily rainy day, so, we were trapped in the train on our journey. My parents worried if we would be able to check-in a hotel in Nikko before dinner time. On the other hand, I was very happy to thoroughly enjoy DRC thanks to the torrential rain.

After operating for 31 years, DHC was retired from the track. The top number car namely 1721 of the EMU 1720 series is currently preserved in Tobu Museum. Although it's a half-cut of one car, we can learn about the characters of DRC.

Interior of Tobu "Deluxe Romance Car", the EMU 1720 series

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

EMU Tobu 100 Series, "Spacia": Update, Part 2

Set 102 of the EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia", with "Miyabi"-colored bodies

Let's continue where I left off last time. What's been going on with the EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia", recently?

On March 17th, set 104 was retired from the track after operating for 32 years. It was the first retiree of Spacia trains. As a result, 8 sets are currently operated on the track. 5 sets (set 101, 102, 103, 105 and 109) are operated only on the Tobu lines; meanwhile, 3 sets (set 106, 107 and 108) are directly operated onto the JR East lines.

Spacia currently has 4 color designs. Set 101 has nostalgic "Deluxe Romance Car"-colored bodies. It's a dark beige with maroon stripes. Set 102, 105 and 107 have shining "Miyabi"-colored bodies. It's a white with shining purple and blue stripes. Set 103 and 106 have flashy "Nikko-moude"-colored bodies. It's a shining gold with orange and dark brown stripes. Finally, set 108 and 109 were recently returned to standard-colored bodies. It has a white with orange and dark red stripes.

Here we are in the middle of the gloomy rainy season in Tokyo. The weather has been really changeable. As soon as I notice the sun has come out, the weather changes drastically and it starts pouring rain. When I took a picture of set 102 at Higashi-Mukojima station, it was clear, but half an hour later, it started to sprinkle a little bit. There was a downpour at the same station, when I shot set 106. There's no use complaining about it.

Set 106 of the EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia", with "Nikko-moude"-colored bodies

Sunday, 19 June 2022

EMU Tobu 100 Series, "Spacia": Update

Set 101 of the EMU Tobu 100 series with "Deluxe Romance Car"-colored bodies

On June 6th, the Japan Meteorological Agency announced that this year's rainy season had begun in Tokyo. From June to mid-July, Tokyo has hot and humid days, called Tsuyu. Here we are in the middle of the gloomy rainy season, but, once the sun's rays peep through the clouds, I never fail to go out to enjoy a stroll. At the end of last week, I got such an opportunity, and visited the Tobu Railway for the first time in a while.

I got off at Higashi-Mukojima station on the Tobu-Isesaki line, and tried to shoot the EMU 100 series passing through the station. The 100 series, also known as "Spacia", is Tobu's flagship model for limited express trains. It was launched in 1990 to replace the old model. 9 sets, 54 units in total, were built by Alna Koki and Tokyu Sharyo. Because of its unique design and high technical specifications, Spacia was elected as the 1991 Blue Ribbon Prize train by the Japan Railfan Club, as the best train that was launched in the previous year.

What's new with Spacia? On December 5th in 2021, the company launched a special revival-colored Spacia train using set 101 of the EMU 100 series. Its body color was changed to a dark beige with maroon stripes, which was taken from the old model, the EMU 1720 series, also known as the "Deluxe Romance Car". It was a previous Tobu's flagship train that was retired from the track in 1991.

To be continued...

Set 101 passes through Higashi-Mukojima station on the Tobu-Isesaki line

Official information about the "Spacia", the EMU Tobu 100 series:

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

The Clear-cut Faces of the Indonesian Trains: Update

Set 6133 of the EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 6000 series without protection nets
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

This is the sequel of my previous post. Protection nets on the front of Jakarta trains are being removed one after another. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent pictures.

Let me quickly review the protection nets of trains in Jakarta, Indonesia. They are made of metal, and protect train drivers from stone throwing. When I lived in Indonesia in the 2000's, I saw that naughty local children were throwing stones at the trains. It was very dangerous, but now, such vandalism has vanished. The protection nets are no longer necessary. As a result, trains with "clear-cut faces" have been increasing.

The top photo shows set 6133 of the EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 6000 series without protection nets on the fronts. This train was built by Kinki Sharyo in 1988. After operating for 24 years on the subway Chiyoda line in Japan, it was transferred to Indonesia in 2013. Set 6133 is currently composed of 8 cars with the local railway operator's new body color design. It's very clean.

The photo below is set 8618 of the EMU ex-Tokyu 8500 series without protection nets. This train was built by Tokyu Sharyo. Two top cars are the oldest ones, which were launched in 1976. After operating over 30 years in Japan, it was transferred to Indonesia in 2008. Set 8618 is currently composed of 12 cars, which is longer than that of the Tokyu-era.

I look forward to further development of the railways in Indonesia.

Set 8618 of the EMU ex-Tokyu 8500 series without protection nets
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Monday, 13 June 2022

The Advent of Spring on the Hachimantai Plateau: Part 3

EMU JR East E6 (left) + E5 (right) series stand at Morioka station  

On the final day of my family trip to the Tohoku District, we visited the Hachimantai Plateau again. Renting snow shoes at the rest house on the mountain pass, we enjoyed strolling on the plateau. The mountain trail was still covered by the thick snow layers, but we could reach a pond, named Gamanuma (Frog's Pond), without getting lost following the red ribbon marks on the tree branches. Gamanuma was still covered by the snow, but the blue-colored water surface was just starting to appear. It was very beautiful backed by magnificent Mt. Iwate.

On our way back home, I observed a coupling scene of the JR East Tohoku and Akita Shinkansen trains. The green-colored Tohoku Shinkansen train, named "Hayabusa", E5 series, is coupled with the red-colored Akita Shinkansen train, named "Komachi", E6 series, at Morioka station. The E5 series is a standard shinkansen train consisting of ten 25-meter-long cars; meanwhile the E6 series is a so-called "mini-shinkansen" train consisting of seven 20-meter-long cars. Thus, a total of 390-meter-long train is operated as one train, and heads to Tokyo terminal from Morioka station with a maximum speed of 320 kilometers per hour. For your information, "Hayabusa" means falcon; meanwhile, "Komachi" comes from a lady, Ms. Ono-no-Komachi (825 - 900), who was born in Akita Prefecture. She was a famous poet, and noted as a rare beauty, so, Komachi is a symbol of a beautiful woman in Japan.

We fully enjoyed a spring trip to the Tohoku District for three days

Gamanuma (Frog's Pond) on the Hachimantai Plateau

Saturday, 11 June 2022

The Advent of Spring on the Hachimantai Plateau: Part 2

Steam locomotive number 11 is exhibited in the Kosaka Rail-Park

Sorry for jumping from one topic to another. After observing a green-colored snowplow, Ki 115 of the Ki 110 series, I moved to a locomotive storage in the Kosaka Rail Park. I found a small steam locomotive, number 11 (hereinafter referred to as SL No.11) in the storage.

SL No. 11 was completed in 1926 at Amemiya Seisakujo in Tokyo. It's a 0-6-0 type (Whyte notation) tank locomotive for the 762 millimeter gauge track on the Kosaka Railway. It has 7.534 meter-long and 2.127 meter-wide body. It's 3.098 meters high. Its empty vehicle weight is 16,660 kilograms. After operating for 36 years as both passenger and freight trains, SL No.11 was retired from the track in 1962, when the track gauge size was changed from 762 to 1,067 millimeters. It has been exhibited in the Kosaka Rail-Park since June, 2014 in good condition under a special roof. This precious locomotive was designated as tangible cultural property by Akita Prefecture on March, 1999.

After leaving the Kosaka Rail Park, I headed to a secluded mountain inn named Goshokake Hot Spring on the foot of the Hachimantai Plateau with my family. As its name suggests, Goshokake Hot Spring is an inn located in a geothermal area. I saw that steam was rising from the ground, and felt the energy of the earth. It was a beautiful place surrounded by the green forest and remaining snow.

I enjoyed both the steam locomotive and geothermal steam on the same day. Is it a bit of a stretch?

Goshokake Hot Spring

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Japanese Raccoon Dog on Mt. Takao

Funicular "Aoba (green leaves)" of the Takao Tozan Railway

I recently visited Mt. Takao for the first time in three years. It's a popular sightseeing spot in the Tokyo metropolitan area. In the Michelin Voyager Pratique issued in 2007, Mt. Takao was granted the highest rank of three stars. Since then, not only Japanese, but also foreign hikers have been flocking to this sightseeing spot.

To climb up Mt. Takao, Takao Tozan Railway is convenient. It's a cable railway opened in 1927. Connecting Kiyotaki (201 meters above sea level) and Takao-san (472 meters above sea level) stations, its route length is 1,020 meters. The track gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. There're two tunnels on the route. The height difference between the lowest and the highest points on the route is 271 meters. The maximum inclination of the route is 31.3 degrees, which is the steepest railway in Japan. The operation interval is 15 minutes. It takes 6 minutes to go one way. A funicular can accommodate 135 passengers.

When I reached the summit (599 meters above sea level), I luckily encountered a Japanese raccoon dog walking about the bush. Japanese raccoon dog, also known as "tanuki", is a canid animal inhabiting only in the Far East. Japanese people have a strong affinity for this animal, as we often see them in folk tales, in which they often shape-change as a messenger of God. In Japan, the Japanese raccoon dog is a sacred animal along with fox.

I enjoyed the precious funicular and the animal on Mt. Takao.

A Japanese raccoon dog walks about the bush on Mt. Takao

Official explanation about the Takao Tozan Railway (in Japanese):

Monday, 6 June 2022

Goodbye to the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 Series

Set 7120 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 series travels on the Tokyu-Toyoko line
(January, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan)

On April 17th, 2022, some news shook all rail-fans. The final set of the EMU Tokyo Metro 7000 series was retired from the track without any prior notice. Urban railway companies in Japan recently tend to NOT disclose the retirement date of their old trains. It's because to avoid confusion caused by rail-fans, who flock to stations to say goodbye to the retiring trains.

Let me quickly review the 7000 series. It was launched in 1974, when the subway Yurakucho line was partially opened between Ikebukuro and Ginza-itchome stations. 34 sets, 340 cars in total, were built by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo over 15 years. Its futuristic aluminum alloy body with an odd-shaped front mask was my favorite. With regard to the technical specifications, a state-of-the-art AVF (automatic variable field) chopper electric control system was applied to save electric power consumption.

My best memory with the 7000 series trains was the happy reunion with it in Indonesia in June, 2010. One of Indonesian Railways' staff kindly invited me to Bukit Duri Railyard in Jakarta, when the first second-hand 7000 series train arrived there. I lived in Indonesia at that time, so, it was a touching reunion with the 7000 series. Twelve years have already passed since then. Time really flies. For your information, the 7000 series trains are still operated in Indonesia in good condition.

Goodbye to the 7000 series in Japan and thank you to the 7000 series in Indonesia for doing well working.

Set 7122 of the ex-Tokyo Metro 7000 series has just arrived at Bukit Duri Railyard
(June, 2010 in Jakarta, Indonesia)