Sunday, 30 January 2022

New Trend of Rail Carrying Train

Rail carrying train, set LT3 of the DMU JR East KiYa E195 series 

Following the old electric locomotives, I'm going to show you a strange train, which I saw in the JR East Oku Rail Yard.

The DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) KiYa E195 series (hereafter the E195) is a rail carrying train. It was commissioned in 2017 to transport rails for the JR East lines. 27 sets in total were built by Nippon Sharyo. There are two types of the E195. One is for 25 meter-long standard rails and the other is for 150 meter-long welded rails. The former train (set ST1 to ST23) consists of 2 engine cars; whereas, the latter one (set LT1 to LT4) is composed of 8 engine cars and 3 trailers. What I am showing you in this post is a train for carrying 150 meter-long welded rails. Its technical specification is similar to that of JR Central's DMU KiYa 97 series, but the E195 has special cold-proof and snow-proof equipment on the trains.

Why does JR East introduce the special rail carrying DMU replacing the rail carrying freight trains pulled by locomotives? It's because of enhancing operational flexibility. The E195 has cockpits on both sides of the train. Unlike the freight train, it doesn't need to change a locomotive by switchback.

The old locomotives for rail carrying freight trains will soon be replaced by the E195, and be scrapped. That's too sad for me as a longtime rail-fan, but I must accept it. Nobody can stop the new trend of the rail carrying train. Patna rhei.

Leading car (KiYa E195-101) of set LT1, the DMU JR East KiYa E195 series

Official information about the DMU KiYa E195 series by JR East (in Japanese):
Official information about the DMU KiYa E195 series by Nippon Sharyo (in Japanese):
Official movie, DMU KiYa E195 series by Railway Museum:

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Class EF81: Brothers' Characters

Number 133 of the EL JR East Class EF81 (EF81 133)

Do you have any brothers or sisters? Yes, I do. I have a brother living far away. He's taller and better at sports than me. I can seldom meet with him as he's always busy. What's it like in locomotives?

I recently passed by JR East Tabata Rail Yard after shopping nearby. I found Number 133 and 134 of the electric locomotives (EL) Class EF81 standing on the shunting tracks. Number 134 is the very next one to 133, so, they're "brothers". They must be very much alike; however...

They're not exactly the same. The older brother, Number 133, belongs to Tabata Rail Yard; while, the younger brother, Number 134, came from Nagaoka Rail Yard in Niigata Prefecture. Number 133 has a shooting star design on the side body; while it's not found on the Number 134. The shooting star is a symbol of the overnight sleeper train in Japan. In fact, Number 133 has been commissioned overnight sleeper trains for a long time. As another difference, Number 133 has a simple coupler on the front; while Number 134 has a complicated double-headed type coupler. I remember that Number 134 has been commissioned pulling many kinds of trains using this coupler. Number 133 and 134... they're brothers, but have different characters just like us.

Oh, that reminds me. I have to contact my brother as our mother's birthday is coming soon. What should we get for her birthday...

Remarks: Class EF81 is an AC-DC dual current electric locomotive (EL) debuted in 1968.

Number 134 of the EL JR East Class EF81 (EF81 134)

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Japanese-style Garden on the Keihin-Tohoku-Negishi Line

JR East E233-1000 series travels on the Keihin-Tohoku-Negishi line.

The New year's holiday flew by so quickly. This year might fly by as well. Before January is over, I'm going to show you the topic for my New year's break.

Hamarikyu is a representative Japanese-style garden in the city center of Tokyo. This garden is located next to Tokyo Bay and its tidal ponds are filled with seawater. Hamarikyu was constructed in the 17th century, and registered as a Special Scenic Beauty and Historic Site of Japan in 1952. I visited this historical garden with my family. After a stroll, we took a break, and enjoyed Maccha green tea and Japanese confectionery at the teahouse by the pond. I felt completely comfortable.

To visit Hamarikyu, we got off at Shimbashi station on the JR East Keihin-Tohoku-Negishi line. Taking this opportunity, let me briefly introduce this urban commuter route. Connecting Ofuna and Omiya, the Keihin-Tohoku-Negishi line penetrates the metropolitan area from south to north. There are 47 stations over a total operating length of 81.2 kilometers. It connects three prefectural capitals in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. They are Yokohama City of Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo, and Saitama City of Saitama Prefecture. A 10-car train with blue colored stripes named the EMU E233-1000 series is operated every 2-3 minutes during rush hours and every 5 minutes during the daytime. To speed up, all trains are operated as rapid services during daytime on the section between Hamamatsucho and Tabata stations. On the other hand, The Yamanote line train, which runs in parallel, stops at all stations on the above section. The railway system in Tokyo is too complex.

Maccha green tea and Japanese confectionery, Hamarikyu Garden

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Tobu Urban Park Line... Wait, What?

EMU Tobu 60000 series: the brand-new commuter train on the Urban Park line

Japan's population has entered into a decreasing phase. Railway companies can't keep their arms crossed in this situation. They are in competition to attract passengers, and have to improve the value along their lines. Otherwise, the residents will move to other places on other companies' lines. Tobu Railway is no exception. In March, 2014, Tobu gave a nickname of their "Noda line" to "Urban Park line" for the above purpose.

Wait, what? I didn't get the joke. The Urban Park line is NOT located in an "urban" area. The local city name, "Noda", was deleted from the line name. I wonder why some Japanese are eager to use English words for their shops, restaurants, companies... even for railway stations and railway lines' names. According to a survey conducted by Nikkei in 2020, 75 percent of local people still use the old name, Noda line.

Aside from whether it's a good name or bad name, one thing I can say for sure is that Tobu has been enhancing the passenger service of the Urban Park line for the last several years. For instance, they launched a brand-new train, the EMU 60000 series. In the previous Noda line era, only second-hand trains such as the 8000 series were introduced onto this local line, but now, the 60000 series grew into the largest fleet on the line. 18 sets, 108 cars in total, are currently operated on the Urban Park line.

Tobu Railway continues trials and errors for improving the value of their lines.

EMU Tobu 8000 series: the oldest model operated on the Urban Park line

Official information about the rollingstock of Tobu Railway (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Green-colored Train on the Tokyu-Ikegami Line

1013F (Green-colored Train) of the EMU Tokyu 1000 series travels on the Ikegami line

Tokyu Railways' Ikegami line is a short commuter route in the southwestern part of Tokyo. Connecting Gotanda and Kamata, its route length is 10.9 kilometers. It carries an average of 180,000 passengers per day. The Ikegami line plays an important role as a commuter route in Tokyo, but if there is a problem, it might be the low name value. Tokyu has to be engaged in the improving value along the Ikegami line. Otherwise, the residents will move to the other places on the other companies' lines. In this situation, Tokyu held a gratis railway service day in 2017 on the Ikegami line. On that day, passengers could take the Ikegami line any number of times for free, so, passengers could easily understand the attractiveness on the line.

Tokyu then launched the "Green-colored Train" in 2019 to promote tourism to the shopping areas on the line. As the name suggests, the Green-colored Train has green-colored bodies, which are similar to the old trains operated on the Ikegami line until the 1980's. Its formal name is set 1013 (1013F) of the EMU 1000 series. The 1000 series usually have silver-colored stainless-steel bodies with red-colored stripes, but only 1013F has conspicuous green-colored bodies. It's nostalgic for old rail-fans; meanwhile it's fresh for young rail-fans.

I don't know for certain whether the number of shoppers grew on the Ikegami line or not, but, at least, the number of rail-fans grew on the line to ride and shoot the Green-colored Train, and I'm one of them.

"Green-colored Train" arrives at Gotanda station on the Ikegami line

Official information about "Green-Colored Train" on the Ikegami line (in Japanese):

Sunday, 16 January 2022

"Mairyu" Railcar on the Ryugasaki Line

Diesel railcar Kantetsu KiHa 2002, "Mairyu", leaves Ryugasaki station.

After enjoying the Joso line, I visited Kantetsu's other route, the Ryugasaki line. It's been eight years since I took this short local line in Ibaraki Prefecture. What did I find?

To start, let me quickly review the Ryugasaki line. It's a 4.5 kilometer-long route connecting Sanuki and Ryugasaki stations. Sanuki is a transfer station to JR East's Joban line. JR East recently changed its station name from Sanuki to Ryugasaki-shi (Ryugasaki City) corresponding to the request by Ryugasaki City, so, there are both Ryugasaki and Ryugasaki-shi stations in the city. They are so alike that I sometimes can't tell which is which. There's no use complaining about it. The Ryugasaki line is a 1,067 millimeter-gauge un-electrified single track. Diesel railcars are operated every half an hour.

Returning to the main topic, I found that the coloring design of KiHa 2002 of the KiHa 2000 series had been changed from Kantetsu's standard design to a "Mairyu" design to promote tourism to the city. Mairyu is a mascot character of Ryugasaki City. Mairyu means "dancing dragon", who likes local traditional dancing named "Tsukumai". We can see Mairyu and local specialties on the body of KiHa 2002. These illustrations were drawn by Art Club members of Nakanedai Junior High School in the city. Incidentally, KiHa 2002 was built as the second diesel railcar of the KiHa 2000 series by Niigata Tekko in 1997. It's similar to the KiHa 2100 series on the Joso line, but the KiHa 2000 series has doorsteps for lower platforms.

"Mairyu" travels on the Kantetsu-Ryugasaki line.

Official information about "Mairyu" railcar, Ryugasaki City (in Japanese):

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Revival Colored Train on the Joso Line

KiHa 2401 (revival color) of the diesel railcar Kantetsu 2400 series

I visited the Joso line of Kanto Railway (hereafter "Kantetsu") for the first time in three years. What's new with this local route in Ibaraki Prefecture?

Before getting down to the main topic, let me quickly review the Joso line. It's Kantetsu's main line connecting Toride and Shimodate cities. The route length is 51.1 kilometers. The whole route is unelectrified. The scenery along the Joso line has two faces. The southern part of the line is a double track. It stretches through expanding suburban residential quarters. On the other hand, the northern part is a single track. We can see beautiful idyllic views such as rice paddies and vegetable fields there.

Now, let's head to the main topic. I found a nostalgic revival colored railcar on the line. It's KiHa 2401 of the railcar KiHa 2400 series. Its body color was recently changed from Kantetsu's standard color to the revival color, which is two-toned beige and vermilion. The revival color reminds us of the 1960s... very nostalgic. Kantetsu kindly discloses the working schedule of the revival colored railcar on the company website for rail fans.

Finally, the Kantetsu KiHa 2400 series is a commuter diesel railcar model on the Joso line. Six cars (KiHa 2401 to 2406) were built by Niigata Transys from 2004 to 2007. It has a 20 meter-long body with driver cabs on both sides. A 242.7 kW diesel engine, a fluid transmission and an electric commanding brake system are mounted. I fully enjoyed Kantetsu's nostalgic railcar.

KiHa 2401 stands at Toride station on the Joso line

Official information about the rollingstock of Kanto Railway (in Japanese):

Monday, 10 January 2022

Kokubunji: Historical City on the Seibu Line

9104F (Seibu Legend Blue Color) of the EMU 9000 series travels on the Tamako line.

The 735-737 smallpox epidemic was a tragedy that afflicted much of Japan. Approximately 30% of Japanese people lost their lives at the time. The epidemic had significant social, economic, and religious effects throughout the country. When things returned to normal in 741, Emperor Shomu ordered to construct special Buddhist temples named "kokubunji" in all the provinces of Japan. That was the origin of Kokubunji City in Tokyo. Today, only rounded stones are placed indicating the pillar holes positions of the kokubunji in Kokubunji City, but I can feel that the ancient people were praying for social stability. History seems to repeat itself. Needless to say, it means the current COVID-19 calamity.

If you visit Kokubunji City, it's recommended that you use the "Legend Blue Train" on the Tamako line. Along with the "Tomato-colored" train, the Legend Blue Train is popular among rail fans. Its formal name is set 9104 (9104F) of the EMU Seibu 9000 series. Normally, the 9000 series has yellow-colored bodies, but 9104F has dark blue-colored ones.

Incidentally, the 9000 series debuted in 1993 reusing the old equipment of the retired 101 series. 8 sets, 80 cars in total, were built by Seibu Tokorozawa Factory. Due to reusing of equipment from the old train, the specification of the 9000 series was rather old. Seibu Railway converted the old rheostatic electric control system into the latest VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) system in the mid-2000s.

We can enjoy both the historical site and the rare train in Kokubunji City.

Kokubunji temple ruins in Kokubunji City

Saturday, 8 January 2022

EMU 21000 Series: New Model on the Sotetsu Line

Set 21102 of the EMU Sotetsu 21000 series arrives at Tennohcho station

Sagami Railway (hereafter "Sotetsu") launched a new train model, the EMU 21000 series, for the direct operation between the Sotetsu and Tokyu-Meguro lines.

Let's quickly review the direct operation project. Sotetsu is a major private railway company, but the weakness is its inconvenient line network. Sotetsu trains couldn't run into downtown Tokyo two years ago. Sotetsu's weakness was mitigated in 2019, when the Sotetsu-JR East connecting line was completed. Sotetsu trains are now directly operated onto the JR East line to Shinjuku terminal in Tokyo, but the story didn't end there. Sotetsu then started constructing the second route to downtown Tokyo... the Sotetsu-Tokyu connecting line. Once the new line is completed, Sotetsu trains will be directly operated onto the Tokyu-Toyoko and Tokyu-Meguro lines, and bound for several subcenters in Tokyo starting from the fiscal year 2022.

For the second project, Sotetsu prepared two types of new trains... the EMU 20000 and 21000 series. The 20000 series was commissioned in 2018. The 21000 series then debuted in 2021. The former is composed of 10 cars, and will be operated onto the Tokyu-Toyoko line; while the latter consists of 8 cars, and will be operated onto the Tokyu-Meguro line. Technical specifications of the 20000 and 21000 series are mostly the same. They have ultramarine-colored aluminum-alloy bodies, mono-link type bolsterless bogies and a hybrid-SIC VVVF (variable-frequency drive) inverter electric control system with 190 kW traction motors.

Sotetsu is preparing for the direct operation onto the Tokyu-Toyoko and Tokyu-Meguro lines sufficiently enough in advance.

Set 21102 of the EMU Sotetsu 21000 series stands at Tennohcho station

Thursday, 6 January 2022

SDGs Train on the Toyoko Line

Set 5121, "SDGs train", of the EMU Tokyu 5000 series leaves Jiyugaoka station

Following the Tokyu-Setagaya line, I'm going to show you the other "SDGs Train" on the Tokyu-Toyoko line.

Let me quickly review the concept of SDGs Trains. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Following SDGs, many companies, such as Tokyu Electric Railway, announced new initiatives taking into consideration, for example, environmental problems. Tokyu launched the special poster trains named "SDGs Trains" on the Setagaya, Den-en-toshi and Toyoko lines from September, 2020. The purpose of SDGs Trains is to provide a beautiful living environment. These trains are substantially powered by 100% renewable energy.

The SDGs train on the Toyoko line is set 5121 of the EMU Tokyu 5000 series. Set 5121 was built by Tokyu Sharyo in 2009. It was once launched on the Den-en-toshi line as a 10-car train, but moved to the Toyoko line as an 8-car train only one year after its debut. The reason for moving from the Den-en-toshi to Toyoko line was not clear, but probably because Tokyu held down the introduction of new rollingstock due to the harsh business conditions... namely Lehman's collapse. Tokyu's aggressive property investments had backfired at that time. Shortage of the trains on the Toyoko line must have been a serious problem.

Set 5121 had saved the Toyoko line, and become Tokyu's star... SDGs poster train.

SDGs train stands at Tamagawa station on the Tokyu-Toyoko line

Official information about SDGs Train (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

The New Shuttle 2000 Series: Update

Set 24 of the EMU New Shuttle 2000 series travels on the Ina line

Let me continue where I left off my last year’s post.

The EMU 2000 series is the largest fleet on the Ina line of Saitama New Urban Transit Company (hereafter "the New Shuttle"). It was commissioned in 2007 to replace the decrepit 1010 series. 7 sets in total were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Each set has a different body color. They are dark-pink (set 01), orange (set 02), green (set 03), yellow (set 04), blue (set 05), red (set 06) and pale-pink (set 07). Among these, the body color of set 01 was slightly changed from metallic-pink to dark-pink in 2018. It's a typical geek topic that trainspotters like to talk about.

Incidentally, the New Shuttle is a rubber-tired automated guideway transit (AGT). The 2000 series has a stainless-steel body. It was widened a lateral width compared to the previous models in order to alleviate congestion during the rush hour. The one set is composed of six motorcars. The power supply is 600V three-phase alternate current. Instead of an overhead catenary, three rigid wires are installed along the track. The electric control system on the 2000 series is IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) inverter. It means that the three-phase alternate current is once converted to direct current by converters, and converted again to three-phase alternate current by inverters on the train to control traction motors. Each set has six 125 kW traction motors. The maximum operating speed is 60 kilometers per hour.

Set 21 (new color) of the EMU New Shuttle 2000 series

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Indonesian Railway Update: New Manggarai Station

8618F of the EMU KAI Commuter 8500 series arrives at new Manggarai station
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Happy New Year! The year 2022 has begun. I have received news from an Indonesian rail fan. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent photos.

Manggarai station in Jakarta was elevated. Manggarai is located in a subcenter of Jakarta City, and known as the transfer station between the Bogor line and the Loop line. As a result, trains on the Bogor line now arrive at and depart platforms 10, 11, 12 and 13 on the second floor. It's being carried out as part of the double-double track construction project between Manggarai and Cikarang stations.

The top photo shows a train, set 8618 (8618F) of the EMU KAI Commuter 8500 series arriving at elevated Manggarai station. Taking this opportunity, I'm going to review this train. 8618F was operated on the Tokyu line in Japan from 1976 to 2008. After retirement from Tokyu, 8618F was moved to Jakarta to spend its second life. It was a 10-car train in Japan, but has grown longer... 12 cars in Jakarta (temporarily 8 cars at this moment due to a mechanical problem). The body stripes were also changed twice. It has now red and white-colored stripes, which are the standard colors of the local train operator, KAI Commuter. The second life is busier than that of the Tokyu era.

More than ten years have passed since I moved back from Jakarta to Tokyo. Time really flies. Life in Jakarta is now ancient history for me. I miss my days in Jakarta.

Elevated new Manggarai station, Jakarta, Indonesia
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Official website, KAI Commuter (in Indonesian):