Monday, February 27, 2017

Sayonara 01 on the Ginza Line

Set 30 (Kumamon poster train) of the EMU Tokyo Metro 01 series arrives at Shibuya Station

It is already late February. Although it is still cold, the sunlight is getting stronger. Spring will soon be here in Tokyo. In Japan, spring is the season for parting. Students graduate from their schools or universities, and go their own ways. Many businessmen and businesswomen leave their offices, and retire or move to other offices. Trains are the same.

On January 27th, Tokyo Metro, a subway operator in the metropolitan area, announced that their EMU 01 series on the Ginza Line will be retired on March 10th. The 01 series was launched in 1983 to replace the old non-air-conditioned cars. A total of 38 sets, 228 units of the 01 series have been built by Kasasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo and Kinki Sharyo over fourteen years, but only one set, namely set 01-130, remains on the track. Its successor is the EMU 1000 series.

Currently, set 01-130 is operated as a Kumamon poster train. Kumamon is a mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu Island. As you may know, there was an earthquake disaster in Kumamoto Prefecture in 2016. The Kumamon poster train is operated as a part of earthquake reconstruction support. The same poster trains are also being operated on the Kumamoto Electric Railway, using the 01 series moved from the Ginza Line.

There are only two weeks to the last run of the 01 series. Unfortunately, I don't have time to see it. Sayonara (good-bye) and arigatou (thank you) 01 series on the Ginza Line.

Side view of set 30 (Kumamon poster train)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tea Plantation on the Hachiko Line

EMU JR East 205-3000 series travels through tea plantation on the Hachiko Line

The western part of Saitama Prefecture is famous for its tea plantation. The product is well known as the brand name of "Sayama-cha (Sayama-tea)" among Japanese people. Sayama-cha is a kind of green tea, that is known for its strong taste, which is probably because the leaf of Sayama-cha is thicker than that of other brands of Japanese green teas, such as Uji-cha and Shizuoka-cha.

We can see open tea plantations along the JR East Hachiko Line, specifically near Kaneko Station in Iruma City, about 55 km northwest of Tokyo. I like to see a train traveling through the green colored tea plantations backed by a clear blue sky. It is very beautiful and photogenic. The Hachiko Line was fully opened in 1934 by Japanese Government Railway. Connecting Hachioji, a western suburb of Tokyo, and Kuragano in Gumma Prefecture, the route length is 92 km. The track is mostly single. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The southern section between Hachioji and Komagawa is electrified as a commuter line, while the northern section between Komagawa and Kuragano is an un-electrified local line.

One of the fleets on the Hachiko Line is the EMU 205-3000 series. It was operated on the Yamanote Line in the downtown Tokyo area and was transferred to the Hachiko Line in 2005 to replace the deteriorated EMU, 103 series. Currently, a total of 5 sets, 20 units, are operated on the Hachiko Line. The stainless-steel bodies are recognized by their orange and green colored stripes.

JR East 205-3000 series arrives at Kita-Hachioji Station on the Hachiko Line

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

KM-151: Preserved Diesel Rail-car in Kamioka Town

Diesel rail-car Kamioka KM-151 (Okuhida number 2) of the KM-150 series

When I visited "Rail Mountain Bike, Gattan-Go (a new attraction using the dead track)" last summer, I stopped by the storage of ex-Kamioka Railway with my family. We could easily get permission to enter the storage, as we asked a local volunteer guide in advance.

Kamioka Railway Company was established in 1984 taking over the Kamioka Line of ex-Japanese National Railways. The function of the railway was freight and passenger transportation for Kamioka Mine and its employees. Connecting Inotani and Okuhida-onsenguchi, the route length was 19.9 km. The track was single and un-electrified. The gauge size was 1,067 mm. There were 8 stations on the route. 60 % of the route was covered by tunnels, as it was constructed in the steep mountain area.

The Kamioka Line was closed in 2006 due to closing of the mine, but we can still see the rolling stock of ex-Kamioka Railway at the storage adjacent to ex-Kamioka-kozan-mae Station. One of the must-see vehicles is a diesel rail-car, KM-151 of the KM-150 series. KM-151, also known as Okuhida number 2, was built in 1984 by Niigata Tekkosho. It is an 18 m-long rail-car with a 250 ps engine. The large snow plow on the front shows that KM-101 was operated in the snow-covered area. This rail-car could be reserved for group tours, so, it had a karaoke set and irori (fireplace)-like corners for passengers to enjoy chatting.

I hope that KM-151, Okuhida number 2, will be opened to the public someday.

Interior of KM-151