Sunday, 18 February 2018

Keisei Skyliner AE Series: 25 Million Passengers

EMU Keisei AE series, Skyliner, displays a gold-colored commemoration sticker

Keisei Skyliner is hunky-dory. On November 1st, 2017, Keisei Electric Railway made a press release announcing that the passengers of the third generation Skyliner exceeded 25 million on that day. At the same time, Keisei held a commemoration ceremony at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station. The 25 millionth passenger was a Swiss gentleman. The president of Keisei Electric Railway Company, the deputy mayor of Narita City and the Muto sisters of the idol group AKB48 attended the ceremony.

The third generation Skyliner, namely the EMU AE series, was launched in 2010 to replace the old model, the AE100 series. The AE series reached 10 million passengers on December 19th, 2013. It then achieved 20 million passengers on September 13th, 2016. The period between the 20 millionth and the 25 millionth passengers was only one year and two months. It was the fastest pace so far. In contrast to the Keisei Skyliner, JR East's Narita Express (NEX) has made poor showing recently. I think that the major reason for these contrasting performances was their speed. The AE series connects Nippori in downtown Tokyo and Narita Airport Terminal 2 in only 36 minutes, which is much faster than that of the NEX. Furthermore, Keisei is a big competitor for JR East because the fare of the Skyliner is much less than that of the NEX.

Currently, one set of the AE series, namely set AE5, displays a gold-colored commemoration sticker on the front of the train. It proudly says "thanks, 25 million passengers".

EMU Keisei AE series passes through Higashi-Matsudo Station on the Hokuso Line

Official information about Keisei Skyliner:
Official information about the EMU Keisei AE series:

Friday, 16 February 2018

Winter Visit to Kamaura on the Enoden Line

EMU Enoden 1000 series travels between Enoshima and Koshigoe stations

Kamakura is known as a historic city where the bakufu (shogunate government) was located from 1185 to 1333. It is situated on the Pacific Ocean to the south; meanwhile, there are steep mountains to the north, east and west as a natural fortification in the samurai era. Kamakura is also known for its warm climate. Even in winter, it remains warm in the city. Last December, I visited Kamakura with my family to enjoy the final stage of its "autumn leaves" and a tranquil garden in a Buddhist temple.

We visited Hokokuji temple. It was a 20 minute walk from Kamakura Station. Although it was the weekend, the precinct of the temple was quiet. I could compose my mind and view the beautiful "autumn leaves" backed by a gorgeous bamboo forest. Viewing the garden, we also enjoyed a cup of green tea in a hermitage of the temple.

To get to Kamakura, we took the local railway, Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) from Fujisawa terminal. Enoden was opened in 1902 connecting Fujisawa and Kamakura stations (10 km). The track is 1,067 mm-wide single. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. Trains are operated every 12 minutes during the daytime. One of my favorite sections is a street running between Enoshima and Koshigoe stations. The track is shared with a busy public road there. Passengers can see the train weaving its way through the crowded automobiles. It is a quite thrilling scene. People's lives along the track are also seen closely.

Garden of Hokokuji temple near Kamakura Station

Official information about the EMU Enoden 1000 series (in Japanese):
Official information about Enoshima Electric Railway:

Monday, 12 February 2018

EMU Keihan 5000 Series: Unique and Flexible

EMU Keihan 5000 series stands at Demachiyanagi Station on the Outo Line

The Kinki region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and four other prefectures, is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. The population of the region now stands at 21 million. More than 13 million passengers use the railways every day.

Along with the Tokyo metropolitan area, the railway network in the Kinki region is extensive and labyrinthine. As a rail fan, I prefer the railways in the Kinki region to those in Tokyo to be honest. It is because the railways in this region have a great variety of trains. The design of the trains is also more unique than that of trains in Tokyo.

Let me introduce an example of unique trains. The EMU Keihan 5000 series is a flexible vehicle. It has 10 doors per car to load and unload passengers smoothly during rush hours. On the other hand, it decreased to 6 doors per car to secure enough passenger seats during the daytime. The gimmick is as follows. During the daytime, 4 doors per car are constantly closed. Additional passenger seats are then descended from the ceiling automatically to the closed doors. What a flexible structure it is! The EMU 5000 series was launched in 1970 to mitigate congestion during rush hours. A total of 42 units were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. It is Keihan's first train with aluminum alloys bodies.

48 years have already passed since the 5000 series debuted. It is said that the 5000 series will be retired from the track by 2020.

Interior of the EMU Keihan 5000 series

Official information about the EMU Keihan 5000 series (in Japanese):