Sunday, 29 May 2022

RSE Car: Romancecar with Semi-compartment Seats

EMU Odakyu 20000 series, RSE Car, is exhibited in the Romancecar Museum

Let me continue from where I left off my post on May 21st.

After a reunion with HiSE Car, I observed RSE (Resort Super Express) Car in the Romancecar Museum. RSE Car, also known as the EMU Odakyu 20000 series, was launched in 1991, when Odakyu started a direct operation between Shinjuku on the Odakyu line and Numazu on the JR Central Gotemba line. Two train sets were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. RSE Car had 20-meter-long bodies with standard trucks. It's different from NSE, LSE and HiSE Cars, which had 12 or 16-meter-long bodies with articulated trucks. The greatest feature of RSE Car was its two-storied carriages (Car number 3 and 4) at the center of the 7-car train. The upper-deck seats held wonderful views. Another feature was the semi-compartment seats on the lower-deck of Car number 4. It's a European-style carriage, and popular among family and group travelers.

After operating for 21 years, RSE Car was retired from the track in March 2012. I was sorry to hear that, but the God of trains was with us. In 2013, Fujikyu, a local railway company in Yamanashi Prefecture, purchased one set of RSE Car, and launched it under the name of Fujsan Express (Mt. Fuji Express). Fujisan Express consists of only three cars without two-storied carriages, but it still has a remnant of its former beauty in the Odakyu era.

Two carriages of RSE Cars, namely DeHa 20001 and SaHa 20151, are exhibited in the Romancecar Museum.

Semi-compartment seats of RSE Car

Thursday, 26 May 2022

EMU JR East 255 Series, Boso View Express: Update

EMU JR East 255 series, "Boso View Express", travels on the Sobu line 

Sorry for jumping from one topic to another. On my way back home from Chiba City last month, I luckily came across a limited express train, EMU JR East 255 series, "Boso View Express". I'm going to give an update about this expert train today.

To start, let me quickly review the EMU 255 series. Boso is a large peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. It's situated between the Pacific Ocean and Tokyo Bay. Boso is well known as a resort area to enjoy marine activities. To get to this resort, JR East's limited express train is convenient. Along with the E257-500 series, the 255 series is the representative train operated between Tokyo and Boso Peninsula. It was launched in 1993 to replace the old models, EMU 183 and 189 series. One set of the 255 series consists of 4 motorcars and 5 trailers. 5 sets, 45 cars in total, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kinki Sharyo from 1993 to 1994. Its nickname is the Boso View Express.

What's new with the 255 series? It has already been operated for 29 years. The electric control system was replaced from the GTO-VVVF (Gate Turn-Off thyristor-variable frequency drive) to the IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor-variable frequency drive) system from 2014 to 2015. The auxiliary power supplies have also been changed to the new model. JR East plans to operate the 255 series at least until the year 2023, but the company has not announced any further plans yet.

I quietly await the announcement.

EMU JR East 255 series passes through Shin-Koiwa station 

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

The Advent of Spring on the Hachimantai Plateau

Ki 115 of the snowplow Ki 110 series is exhibited in the Kosaka Rail-Park

Japanese take about one straight week of holidays during so-called "Golden Week" starting from the end of April. The spread of COVID-19 was lessening, so, I headed to the Tohoku District (Northeast district of Japan) with my family using this year's Golden Week. Our destination was Hachimantai, some 570 kilometers north of Tokyo. It's a volcanic plateau at an altitude of about 1,600 meters, and a part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. We found high walls of snow on the Aspite line, which is a sightseeing road running through the plateau. The road was closed during the winter because of heavy snowfall. The snow walls were cut surfaces recently created by road snowplows. The walls were "artistic", and beautifully shinning backed by the spring blue sky.

After going down the snow road, we stopped by Kosaka Rail-Park at the foot of the plateau. It's a railway theme park where the rolling stock of the ex-Kosaka Railway are exhibited. The Kosaka Railway was a mining railway abolished in 2009. Of all the exhibits, among the brightest was a green-colored snowplow, Ki 115 of the Ki 110 series. It's an old Russel snowplow for single track, built in 1935 by Hamamatsu Plant of the ex-Railway Ministry. We can see large snowplow wings on both sides of the vehicle. Ki 115 doesn't have a source of power, so, a locomotive pushed from behind, when it was mobilized.

We enjoyed both the snow walls and the snowplow on the happy day off.

Snow walls on the Aspite line (a sightseeing road running through the plateau)

Saturday, 21 May 2022

HiSE Car: Reunion with the High-Decker Romancecar

EMU Odakyu 10000 series, "HiSE Car", is exhibited in the Romancecar Museum.  

Let me continue from where I left off my last post. After enjoying the observation of LSE Car, I found HiSE Car with wine red-colored stripes in the Romancecar Museum.

HiSE Car, also known as the EMU Odakyu 10000 series, was launched in 1987 in commemoration of the 60-year anniversary of the Odakyu line. 4 sets in total were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. One set of HiSE Car consisted of nine motorcars and two trailers. HiSE Car inherited its design from NSE and LSE Cars. For example, the cockpit was upstairs, so that the passengers could enjoy the view ahead. On the other hand, HiSE Car was a high-decker vehicle unlike its predecessors. HiSE's passenger room was high up, so, the elevated position held wonderful views from the passenger seats. To balance the high-decker and low center of gravity, air conditioners were placed under the floor. After operating for 25 years, HiSE Car was retired from the track in March 2012. One unit, namely DeHa 10001, is currently exhibited in the Romancecar Museum.

I could observe a bogie of HiSE Car at the end of DeHa 10001. It's FS533A, parallel link-guided articulated bogie, which was manufactured by Sumitomo Metal Industries. I could see a large bolster just under the rounded center plate and a rod-shaped bolster anchor at the left end of the bogie. I could also observe uneven parallel links, which connected the axle box, and supported the bogie frame.

I learned a lot from HiSE Car.

FS533A articulated bogie for DeHa 10001 of the EMU Odakyu 10000 series

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

LSE: The Evolutionary Form of NSE Car

The EMU Odakyu 7000 series, "LSE Car", is exhibited in the Romancecar Museum

Let me resume from where I left off my post from six days ago.

After a reunion with NSE (New Super Express) Car, I observed LSE (Luxury Super Express) Car in the Romancecar Museum. If you are a longtime reader of my blog, you probably know LSE, the EMU Odakyu 7000 series. It was launched in 1980 to replace the deteriorated NSE. 4 sets, 44 units in total, were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Similar to NSE, LSE is articulated cars. The electric control system is rheostatic. The power regenerative brake is not equipped, since LSE is a limited express train that makes the fewest stops. LSE inherited its unique design from NSE. The cockpit is upstairs, so that the passengers could enjoy the view ahead. The classical moquette seats are also similar. On the other hand, LSE has some new designs such as automatic folding doors.

After operating for 38 years, LSE was retired from the track in October 2018. LSE once had wine red-colored bodies, but Odakyu returned it to the original color design, namely orange vermilion, gray and white before the retirement. It was a wonderful gift for rail-fans. One unit of LSE, DeHa 7003, is currently exhibited alongside NSE in the Romancecar Museum. That allows us to compare the two models with ease. LSE clearly looks sharper than NSE. The angle of LSE's front window is 48 degrees; while, it's 60 degrees on NSE.

LSE is indeed the evolutionary form of NSE Car.

NSE Car (left) and LSE Car (right)

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Indonesian Railway Update: The 203 Series New Color

Set MaTo 66 of the EMU ex-JNR 203 series with the new color design in Indonesia
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

I'm temporally shelving the topic of the Romancecar Museum again, and showing Indonesian railway pictures today. I have received news from an Indonesian rail fan. The EMU ex-JNR 203 series has changed its body color. My thanks go to Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent picture.

Let me quickly review the EMU 203 series. It's a direct current commuter train developed by the ex-Japanese National Railways (JNR). It was commissioned in 1982 for direct operation between the ex-JNR (present JR East) Joban and Tokyo Metro Chiyoda lines. 17 sets, 170 cars in total, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Kinki Sharyo from 1982 to 1986. After 29 years' operation in Japan, the 203 series was transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia to spend a "new life". It was in August, 2011, two months after my leaving Indonesia. The 203 series was modified to the local style and launched at the year-end in 2011. The body was changed from a green-colored stripe to a flashy red-yellow "face" and stripes, an Indonesian style.

In April, 2022, the body color design of the 203 series was changed again by the Indonesian local railway operator. The new design is a light gray-color with red and dark blue-colored stripes. The pictures show the test run of the new colored train, set MaTo 66 of the 203 series, as a 12-car train. It's a simple and beautiful design that passengers won't get tired of. Of course, it's my cup of tea.

Test run of 12-car train, set MaTo 66 of the EMU ex-JNR 203 series in Indonesia
(Photo: Faris Fadhli)

Thursday, 12 May 2022

NSE: The Essential Exhibit in the Romancecar Museum

The EMU Odakyu 3100 series, "NSE Car", is exhibited in the Romancecar Museum

Let me resume from where I left off my post from five days ago.

After a reunion with the SSE (Short Super Express) Car, I observed the NSE (New Super Express) Car in the Romancecar Museum. The EMU Odakyu 3100 series, also known as the NSE Car, was launched in 1963 to increase transportation capacity for Hakone resort mountain. It was composed of 11 motorcars with articulated bogies. 7 sets in total were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Sharyo from 1963 to 1967. The maximum speed in operation was 110 kilometers per hour; however, its designed maximum speed was 170 kilometers per hour.

The most distinctive feature of the NSE Car is that the cockpit is located upstairs. Passengers can enjoy a front view through the wide window. When I was a kid, the NSE Car was a special, admired presence for me. I failed to sit on the front observation seat, because it was a "platinum ticket", but I often used the NSE Car with my parents to visit Hakone Mountain. My question was how did a driver climb up into the cockpit of the NSE Car. You can see the answer in the following picture. A ladder is equipped underneath the cockpit. Of course, the ladder is retractable, so, it's stored during the operation. All of the mystery has been solved.

For your information, three of the 77 total NSE Cars, namely DeHa 3221, 3223 and 3231, are exhibited in the Romancecar Museum; meanwhile, one unit, DeHa 3181, is currently preserved in Kaisei Town, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The ladder to climb up into the cockpit of NSE Car

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

2022 Sakura Season in Yokohama City

Poster train celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tokyu Corporation (Kikuna sta.)

I'm temporally shelving the topic of the Romancecar Museum, and showing a seasonal picture today. From March through May, the progress of the "Sakura front (cherry-blossom front)" is reported nightly by the Meteorological Agency, as it makes its way north through the archipelago. The 2022 cherry-blossom front is already arriving at Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.

During this year's cherry blooming season, I visited several viewing spots in Tokyo, Chiba and one more... Kikuna Sakura-yama (cherry mountain) Park in Yokohama City. It looked like just a common public park in a residential area, but pink-colored double cherry blossoms were "shining" backed by the spring blue sky. It was so beautiful. Reputable cherry blossoms viewing spots are good, but local spots such as Kikuna Sakura-yama Park are really good. It's because we can see local people's peaceful lives.

To visit Kikuna Sakura-yama Park, the nearest railway station is Kikuna on the Tokyu-Toyoko line. On the way back home, I came across a special poster train celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tokyu Corporation. It was set 5051 of the EMU Tokyu 5050 series. As you know, Tokyu is a conglomerate consisting of transportation, real estate, hotel and retail business. It was established in 1922 as a small railway company named Meguro-Kamata Electric Railway. It's a part of the present Meguro and Tamagawa lines. 100 years later, Tokyu has a labyrinthine railway network in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. The conglomerate does 10 billion dollars a year in sales on a consolidated basis.

Kikuna Sakura-yama Park near Kikuna station on the Tokyu-Toyoko line

Saturday, 7 May 2022

SSE: Romancecar for Direct Operation onto the JNR Line

The EMU Odakyu 3000 series, "SSE Car", is exhibited in Romancecar Museum.

Let me continue from where I left off my last post. After a reunion with SE (Super Express) Car, I observed the second generation Romancecar named SSE (Short Super Express) Car in the Romancecar Museum.

SSE Car is a modified model of SE Car. It was commissioned for the direct operation between the Odakyu and JNR (Japanese National Railways) lines from 1968 to 1991. Odakyu trains have been directly operated onto the JNR (present JR Central) Gotemba line since 1955. Odakyu's diesel railcar was applied for this operation in the early days, but it was changed to EMU (Electric Multiple-unit) in 1968 due to electrification of the Gotemba line. The EMU for duty was Odakyu's SSE Car.

What're the differences between SE and SSE Cars? 1) SSE Car (5-car train) is shorter than SE Car (8-car train). 2) The frontal design is different. For example, the position of the frontal lights was moved from the inner (SE Car) to the outer (SSE Car) part of the "face". 3) SSE Car had a large coupler with a square cover; while, SE Car had only a small retractable coupler.

I have a faint memory of my childhood on SSE Car. It was difficult for me to view from the window, since SSE Car had a low floor. In other words, the position of the passenger windows was too high for a small kid like me. To achieve high speed operation, SSE Car had a low center of gravity providing excellent stability. You can't make everybody happy.

To achieve high speed operation, SSE Car has a low floor providing excellent stability.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

SE Car: The First Generation Romancecar

The EMU Odakyu 3000 series, "SE Car", is exhibited in Romancecar Museum.

Picking up where I left off my last post, I'm introducing individual exhibits in Romancecar Museum from now. The first story is "SE Car".

SE Car, also known as the EMU Odakyu 3000 series, was commissioned in 1957 as the first generation Romancecar. SE stands for Special Express. The purpose of SE Car was to speed up Odakyu trains and promote tourism to the sightseeing spots in the Hakone Mountain. It was composed of 8 motorcars with articulated bogies. 4sets, 32 units in total, were built by Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Sharyo from 1957 to 1959. SE Car established a maximum speed of 145 km per hour on the trial run in 1957. It was the world's speed record of narrow gauge (1,067 millimeter-gauge) trains at that time. In 1958, Japan Railfan Club elected SE Car as the first Blue Ribbon Prize train. As you know, the Blue Ribbon Prize is an annual award to the best train that was launched in the previous year.

SE Car was a yearning in my childhood. Whenever SE Car approached me ringing the chime (auxiliary alarm device), I was excited. Its streamlined bodies with vermillion, gray and white-colored stripes were definitely cool. Arch-shaped passenger doors were quite unique and my favorite. I was absorbed in SE Car. Only 2 units, namely DeHa 3021 and DeHa 3022, are preserved in their original form, and currently exhibited in Romancecar Museum. "We" enjoyed a reunion for the first time in ages.

To be continued...

An arch-shaped passenger door on the EMU 3000 series, "SE Car"

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Romancecar Museum: New Holy Place for Rail-fans

The successive Romancecars are exhibited in Romancecar Museum

I refer to Odakyu's limited express train as "Romancecar (one word)" in this blog from now on, following the formal naming in English by the company.

I recently visited a new holy place for rail-fans, named Romancecar Museum. It was opened next to Ebina station on the Odawara line by Odakyu Electric Railway on April 19th last year.

To start, let me quickly review Romancecar. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, several railway companies compete with gorgeous express trains as their flagships. One of the venerable and popular trains is Odakyu Romancecar being operated from Shinjuku, a subcenter of Tokyo, to western suburbs. Odakyu first launched a resort train in 1935 as Hot Spring Express; however, it was forced to stop operating due to WWII in the 1940's. After the war, Odakyu resumed the operation of the express in 1950 under the new name of Romancecar. An epoch-making event occurred in 1957, when they launched a new model, the EMU 3000 series. This train established a maximum speed of 145 kilometer per hour on their test run. It was the world's fastest record of a narrow-gauged railway at that time. Odakyu then launched new Romancecar models one after another.

In Romancecar Museum, the successive Romancecars are preserved and exhibited. A driving simulator and a large diorama are popular specifically among junior rail-fans. Moreover, the attached cafe lounge can be used by everyone including passengers stopping by Ebina station. I'm going to show you the successive Romancecar models one by one from next post.

The main exhibition room of Romancecar Museum

Official website, Romancecar Museum (in Japanese):