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):

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