Monday, 28 February 2022

Wealthy Neighborhood on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line

EMU Tokyu 5050 series travels between Denenchofu and Tamagawa stations

Where is the high-class residential area in your city or country? In Tokyo, there are several such areas, but a majority of Tokyoites will say "Denenchofu". "The house will be built in Denenchofu" is a phrase that was often joked by a famous comedian in the 1980's. It means "becoming rich". In fact, there are many mansions on the streets in Denenchofu, but they are not so big as foreign ones like Beverly Hills. It's because Tokyo is a super-congested city. Am I jealous of residents in Denenchofu?(I'm not a resident of Denenchofu.)

Joking aside, I visited a park adjacent to the Denenchofu residential area just for kicks on the weekend. It's a beautiful and quiet park surrounded by a forest. I saw a brown-eared bulbul twittering on a tree. He (or she) must be just a common bird, but looked rich. It's probably just my imagination.

On the way back home, I came across the representative train, which travels through the high-class residential area. It's the EMU Tokyu 5050 series operated on the Toyoko line. The 5050 series debuted in 2004 as a standard commuter train for the Toyoko line. Before the debut of the 5050 series, most of the Toyoko line trains had just rustic gabled frontal masks, but the 5050 series changed the atmosphere of the Toyoko line. Its face became more sophisticated than the older trains, and blended into the landscape of the Denenchofu residential area.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the wealthy neighborhood on the weekend.

A brown-eared bulbul twitters on a tree in Denenchofu Seseragi Park

Friday, 25 February 2022

The Design that I won't Tire of

EMU Tokyo Metro 07 series travels on the Tozai line 

I thought that all the existing train models in the Tokyo metropolitan area had already been introduced to you here, but I was wrong. I recently found that there are still some more models I haven't shown you yet. The introduction of trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area is almost endless, but okay. It's what I do.

The EMU Tokyo Metro 07 series is a commuter train operated on the subway Tozai line. It was launched in 1993 originally for the subway Yurakucho line. 6 sets, 60 cars in total, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo. After being operated on the Yurakucho line for 15 years, the 07 series was moved to the Tozai line in 2008. This transfer was caused by a connecting of the Yurakucho and Fuktoshin lines. Both the Yurakucho and Fukutoshin lines' trains became integrated. In other words, all the trains for the Yurakucho and Fukutoshin lines should have the same specifications; however, passenger door positions of the 07 series were different from the other models. It was an obstacle to the operation of automatic platform gates on the Fukutoshin line.

The 07 series became a nuisance on the Yurakucho line, but I love it. Specifically, I'm fond of its rounded design taken from an elder model, the EMU 06 series, on the Chiyoda line. Its design concept is calm, elegant, urban and one more... long beloved by passengers. Exactly. The 07 series has a design that I won't tire of.

EMU Tokyo Metro 07 series arrives at Nishikasai station on the Tozai line

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 07 series by Tokyo Metro (in Japanese):
Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 07 series by Nippon Sharyo (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Winter Walk in Kawasaki City

SL D51 408 is preserved in front of the science museum of Ikuta Ryokuchi Park

It's late February already, but the maximum daytime temperature is often below 10 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. Is global warming real? There's no point thinking about it, so, I went to the suburbs to look for signs of spring. My destination was Ikuta Ryokuchi Park (Ikuta Green Park) in Kawasaki City. When I was strolling in the park, I came across an early blooming plum tree decked with light pink-colored flowers in a grove. That was just what I had been looking for. I could feel the sign of spring just a little.

I can't be written off here as this is a railway blog. Following the early blooming plum tree, I luckily found a preserved steam locomotive (SL) in front of the science museum in the park. It's unit 408 of Class D51 SL (D51 408). As I posted before, Class D51 was Japan's biggest force of locomotive fleet. 1,115 units in total were built from 1935 to 1950. It's a 2-8-2 (Whyte notation) type SL that has a tender attached. D51 408 was built in 1940 by Nippon Sharyo. Starting from Toyama Depot of Japanese Government Railways, D51 408 was moved from one depot to the next. Its primary mission was pulling freight trains. After traveling more than 1.4 million kilometers, D51 408 was retired from the track in 1970.

Please look at the picture. D51 408 is preserved in excellent condition. It's sparkling even under the weak winter sunlight. Spring is just around the corner.

Plum blossoms in Ikuta Ryokuchi Park

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Final Chapter of Odakyu Romance Car VSE

EMU Odakyu 50000 series, Romance Car VSE, passes through Noborito station

On December 17th, 2021, some news shook all rail-fans badly. Odakyu Electric Railway made a press release announcing that Romance Car VSE (hereafter VSE) will be terminated in its regular service on March 11th, 2022. Furthermore, VSE will be retired from the track in the autumn of 2023.

Let me quickly review VSE. The EMU Odakyu 50000 series, also known as VSE (Vault Super Express), is a famous model of the Odakyu Romance Car fleet. It was launched in 2005 as a 10-car train with articulated bogies. Two sets in total were built by Nippon Sharyo. VSE's cockpit is upstairs, so that passengers can enjoy a front view through the wide front windows. VSE achieves a high level of popularity among tourists.

Why does VSE have to be retired in spite of its youth... only 17 years old? Unfortunately, there is no official explanation from Odakyu, but most rail-fans speculate... (1) VSE has special short-sized bodies, so, the positions of passenger doors don't match those of the automatic platform gates at most stations. (2) VSE has special articulated bogies, so, it's not easy in maintenance. In summary, the negative aspect of VSE could be its economic feasibility, despite that VSE is the embodiment of Odakyu's high technologies.

I recently found that VSE carried a special sticker saying "thanks VSE" on the front. Time never stops, but please take a look at my previous posts about VSE, if you have time. They were posted in 2012, 2016 (February and November) and 2018.

Special sticker, "Thanks VSE" 

Official website, "Thanks VSE" (in Japanese):
Official information about Odakyu Romance Car:

Friday, 18 February 2022

The City of Deer in 2021: Part 2

EMU Kintetsu 8810 series stands at Kintetsu-Nara station

Going back to the topic of last year's family trip to Nara...

After staying overnight at a hotel in Nara City, we joined a city walking tour led by a local volunteer guide. There was no fee to participate. I was very interested in his talk about the history and sightseeing spots in the city. What's more, he told us interesting rumors in the city. For example, the characters of wild deer in the city are different according to the living areas. He feels that deer living near Todaiji-temple are more violent-tempered than those in Nara Park. That was unexpected for me, as we saw a deer playing nicely with a little girl in front of Todaiji-temple. Whatever, thank you, I'll never forget this interesting tour.

Getting into the main topic, let me introduce a train I saw at Kintetsu-Nara station on the same day. It's the EMU 8810 series for the Nara, Osaka and other lines. The 8810 series is Kintetsu's first model with a field chopper electric control system. 8 sets, 32 cars in total, were built by Hitachi from 1981 to 1984. The field chopper is one of the advanced rheostatic control systems, but has been replaced by a newly developed VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) system since the 1990s. Trains with this system have been retired one after another in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but are still active on the Kintetsu lines.

The volunteer-guided walking tour and the historical Kintetsu train... I fully enjoyed Nara City.

Wild deer and a little girl in front of Todaiji-temple

Official information about the EMU Kintetsu 8810 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

The 100th Anniversary of Nakano Rail Yard

Set B11 of the EMU JR East E231 series arrives at Ochanomizu station

On July 10th, 2021, JR East celebrated the 100th anniversary of their Nakano Rail Yard on the Chuo local line. In commemoration of the anniversary, many events were held by JR East Tokyo Branch Office.

Let me quickly review JR East's Nakano Rail Yard. It started as a train depot in 1921. The function of the train depot was then moved to Mitaka in 1986 leaving several storage tracks in Nakano. As a result, the main task of this "rail yard" became operations of the Chuo local line. In other words, train drivers of the Chuo local line currently belong to this organization, "Nakano Rail Yard".

I recently found that the 100th anniversary memorial plate is displayed on a train, set B11 of the EMU E231 series. It's my big favorite. Please look at the following picture. You'll find that the numeral "100" on the plate is designed with a driver's console equipment. It includes that the numeral "1" is taken from a master controller. The numeral "0" is designed with a pressure gauge; while another "0" has a speedometer design. In my understanding, the status of the numeral "100" on the plate shows that the train is traveling at a speed of approximately 80 kilometers per hour, while not applying a brake. That's what the needles of the speedometer and pressure gauge say.

This witty and beautiful memorial plate was produced by a local design company named Design Kyuko. I take my hat off to the designer's creativity. Thank you so much.

The 100 the anniversary plate of Nakano Rail Yard

Official information about the 100th anniversary memorial plates by Design Kyuko:
Official information about the 100th anniversary memorial posters by Design Kyuko:

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Mountain Temple on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line

EMU Kintetsu 2400 (2430) series stands at Yamato-Yagi station

Going back to the topic of my last year's trip, I'm going to show you a mountain temple and a train in Nara Prefecture today.

Hasedera is an old Buddhist temple located in the mountains of Sakurai City. It's said to be founded in the 7th century, but uncertain. At least, we can see an old copper casting, which was made in 686 or 698, in the temple. The highlight of Hasedera is not only its historical relics but also its nature. When I visited there, the maple leaves had just started turning red. It went well with the halls. The mountain around the temple had also started glowing. It was feeling like autumn more and more.

To visit this mountain temple, the nearest railway station is Hasedera on the Kintetsu-Osaka line. Hasedera station is located on a route passing through a steep mountain named Aoyama (Blue Mountain). Kintetsu has been developing powerful trains to run through Aoyama for long time. One of the outcomes is the EMU 2400 series commissioned in 1966. It has 155kW DC motors, and enabled to decrease numbers of motorcars per train-set. Furthermore, the 2400 series has "1M system". One motorcar has all required electric devices on the car. It's not necessary to form a pair with the other motorcars. As a result, it drastically enhanced the operational flexibility. The 2400 series is now over 50 years of age, but still active.

I learnt the histories of both the mountain temple and the train in Nara Prefecture.

Hasedera temple near Hasedera station on the Kintetsu-Osaka line

Official information about the EMU Kintetsu 2400, 2410 and 2430 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 10 February 2022

The 50th Anniversary of the Inokashira Express

Putting the anniversary plate on the front, express train travels on the Inokashira line

On December 15th, 2021, Keio Electric Railway celebrated the 50th anniversary of the express train operation on the Inokashira line.

To start, let me quickly review the Keio-Inokashira line. It's a short commuter route penetrating the western part of Tokyo Metropolis. There are 17 stations over a total operating length of 12.7 kilometers. The Inokashira line isn't connected with other lines. In other words, all trains are not directly operated onto other lines. So why is the express train necessary on this short and isolated Inokashira line?

It's because railway companies in Tokyo are in competition to attract passengers. The railway network in Tokyo is dense, so, it allows passengers to choose the best line to get to their destination. Keio's rival is giant JR East. Which do you take, the Keio-Inokashira line or the JR East line from Kichijoji to Shibuya station? It takes 16 minutes by the express train on the Inokashira line. It's faster than the JR East train. It costs 200 yen by Keio. It's more economical than that of the JR East line. Thanks to the express train operation and the economical fare, the Inokashira line carries an average of 0.97 million passengers per day. It's a gold mine for Keio.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, Keio displays a memorial plate on set number 1701 (1701F) of the EMU 1000 series. 1701F was built as the first set of the EMU 1000 series by Tokyu-sharyo in 1995. Happy 50-year anniversary, Inokashira express train!

The 50th anniversary plate of the express train operation, the Inokashira line

Monday, 7 February 2022

Indonesian Railway Update: The Clear-cut Faces are Back

EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 05 (left) and 6000 (right) series without protection nets
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

I have received news from an Indonesian rail-fan again. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the pictures.

To start, let me quickly review the railway in Indonesia. As you know, Indonesia is making a remarkable development as a major power in Asia. The railway is no exception. It's expected to ease traffic jams in the urban areas like Jakarta. Lots of secondhand trains have been imported from Japan for enhancing transportation capacity. They are mainly ex-Tokyu, ex-JR East and ex-Tokyo Metro trains.

So, let me get to the point. Protection nets on the front of Jakarta trains are being removed one after another. The protection net is made of metal, and protect 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 photo shows the EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 05 and 6000 series without protection nets on the fronts. The 05 series was once operated on the Tozai line; while the 6000 series was commissioned on the Chiyoda line in Tokyo. The former train (set 05102) was moved to Indonesia in 2010; while the latter one (set 6106) was transferred in 2011. I'm very happy that these trains have been returned to their original faces.

I look forward to their further success in Indonesia.

Set 05102 of the EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 05 series (without protection nets)
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Friday, 4 February 2022

EMU JR East 651 Series: Old Soldiers Never Die

EMU JR East 651-1000 series, limited express "Kusatsu", arrives at Omiya station

JR East's limited express train, the EMU 651 series, remains in the history of Japanese railways. It was launched in March, 1989 to speed up the Joban line. Its maximum speed was 130 kilometers per hour. You might feel that the 130 kilometers per hour isn't so fast, but please take the Japanese railway system into consideration. For example, the track gauge of conventional lines is narrow (1,067 millimeters). There are many curved tracks especially in mountainous areas. More importantly, according to the rules of train operations established by the Ministry of Transportation, train braking distance had to be less than 600 meters (except Shinkansen) at that time.

The 651 series overcame the above bottlenecks. The "600 meters regulation" was passed by developing an antilock brake system. The 651 series had been operated as a limited express train "Super-Hitachi" for 24 years, and retired from the Joban line in 2013. It was very popular among rail-fans. The white and olive gray-colored body was stylish, so, rail-fans called it the "tuxedo body (penguin suit body)".

The old soldier was thought to have died, but in March, 2014, the 651 series came back onto the track to spend its second life under the new name of the 651-1000 series. It was renovated from an AC-DC dual current to a DC train. As of January, 2022, it's still operated as limited express trains "Kusatsu" and "Akagi" on the Takasaki and other lines.

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away... No, they are still at the forefront!

Side view of the EMU 651-1000 series

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Child-rearing Support Space on the Subway Train

Child-rearing support space ("Thomas and friends") on the EMU Toei 12-600 series

Does anyone like subways? To be honest, I don't like them so much. Subway trains are annoying for rail photo lovers like me. The problem is its dark environment. It's almost impossible to take train photos on underground tracks. That's why I often get tired of taking subway lines.

I found that the same kind of humans exist on the subway trains besides rail photo lovers. They are kids. Their problem is the same as that of rail photo lovers. Kids can't enjoy looking at scenes from the subway train window, because it's dark. They are soon weary of boarding subway trains, and start crying. As a result, parents will hesitate to take subway lines with children being afraid of trouble for other passengers.

Wait a second, mom and dad! Please take the subway Ooedo line if you go out with your children next time. You'll find special corners named "Child-rearing support spaces" on the train. There are two kinds of corners, the one with "Thomas & Friends" and the one with "Gurumpa's Kindergarten". The former is decorated with the characters of the popular British television series; while the latter depicts a famous Japanese picture book. Currently, nine sets of the EMU Toei 12-600 series have Child-rearing support spaces. They are in Car 3 and 6 of each set. Toei kindly discloses the timetable of the trains with Child-rearing support spaces on their website for passengers with children.

Child-rearing support space... it's so considerate to mom and dad.

EMU Toei 12-600 series stands at Tocho-mae station on the Ooedo line

Official information about the Child-rearing support space (in Japanese):