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) 

Friday, 3 June 2022

The First Electric Car on the Odakyu Line

MoHa 10 of the electric car Odakyu MoHa 1 series 

I thought that all the trains in the Romancecar Museum had already been introduced to you here, but I was wrong. I'm going to show you a precious old train in the museum today.

The electric car Odakyu MoHa 1 series is a 15-meter-long commuter train that operated on the section between Shinjuku and Inada-Noborito (presently Mukogaoka-yuen) stations in the past. It was launched in 1927, when the Odakyu line was opened. A total of 18 cars were built by Nippon Sharyo. The body of the MoHa 1 series is chocolate-colored, riveted, and made of imposing steel but is gracefully rounded. The three front windows and large circular headlight are impressive. The beautifully curved single roof at the top of the body with a large pantograph is also attractive. The technical specification of the MoHa 1 series is classic. It has four 60 kW DC motors manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. The electric control system is rheostatic. The driving system is a nose suspension. The brake system is an old automatic air brake. The interior of the MoHa 1 series is also nostalgic. It has a wooden floor and rounded ceiling lights with incandescent bulbs. The long straps are also old-fashioned.

After operating for 54 years on the Odakyu and Kumamoto Electric Railway, the final car of the MoHa 1 series was retired from the track in March 1981. Only one car, namely MoHa 10 of the MoHa 1 series, is preserved in the Romancecar Museum. I was very happy to see this legendary electric car.

Interior of the electric car Odakyu MoHa 1 series

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Gondola Lift to Mt. Nyukasa

The gondola lift and a mountain bike lover in the Fujimi Panorama Resort

It's early summer in Tokyo. The maximum daytime temperature reaches 25 degrees Celsius every day. I recently visited Nagano Prefecture to experience the cool breeze with my family. Our destination was Mt. Nyukasa, which is 1,955 meters above sea level. The view from the summit was fantastic. We could clearly see snow-capped Mt. Kaikoma (2,967 meters above sea level) under the strong sunlight.

To visit Mt. Nyukasa, Gondola lift of the Fujimi Panorama Resort is convenient. It's a single rope automatic circulation type gondola lift. Connecting Sanroku (1,050 meters above sea level) and Sancho (1,780 meters above sea level) stations, its route length is 2,488 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 730 meters. Its maximum inclination is 37.97 degrees. There are 27 struts on the route. This aerial lift was opened in 1992 to transport skiers in winter as well as sightseers in summer. The cable line was constructed by Tokyo Sakudo technically assisted by Von Roll in Switzerland. The gondolas were built by CWA also in Switzerland.

Gondolas are operated with a speed of 5 meters per second. It takes 10 minutes to go one way. Each gondola can accommodate up to 8 passengers. Its transportation capacity is 2,400 passengers per hour. One of the features of this aerial lift is that passengers can take mountain bikes on the gondola. A maximum of 2 bikes and 2 passengers per gondola can be loaded. I saw many mountain bike lovers, who enjoy biking on the slope of the mountain.

View of Mt. Kaikoma (2,967 meters above sea level) from Mt. Nyukasa

Official website, the Fujimi Panorama Resort (in Japanese):