Saturday, 30 December 2017

Lighting-up of the Historical Garden on the Namboku Line

The 5th batch train of the EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series travels on the Tokyu-Meguro Line

I visited Rikugien Garden last month for the first time in three years. My last visit was in the cherry blossom season, so that I visited there in the autumn foliage season this time. 

Rikugien is a famous public garden in Tokyo. It was constructed between 1695 and 1702 by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, who was a man in power in the Tokugawa Shogunate. Currently, it is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This traditional Japanese garden is composed of a pond, a hill and many kinds of trees. Along with a large shidare sakura (weeping cherry) tree, autumn leaves in the garden are also well known by people. The garden was lit-up during the peak foliage season at night. I saw many visitors, who were enjoying this special event, when I visited the garden.

To get to this gorgeous spot, the nearest railway station is Komagome on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line. I am going to introduce the 5th batch train of the EMU 9000 series. The EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series is the major fleet on the line. It was launched in 1991, when the Namboku Line was opened. The 5th batch of the 9000 series debuted in 2009. A total of 2 sets, 12 units, were built by Nippon Sharyo. The outer design of the 5th batch train is different from that of the 1st to 4th batch trains. For instance, the 5th batch train has slant eye-shaped lights; whereas the 1st to 4th batch train has rectangular lights.

Night view of Rikugien Garden near Komagome Station on the Tokyo Metro-Namboku Line

Official information about the 5th batch train of the EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Preserved Streetcar in Yokohama City

Electric car number 1510 of the 1500 series is preserved in the Yokohama Tram Museum

Yokohama is located about 20 km southwest of Tokyo and is the second largest city in Japan. Currently, it has a population of 3.7 million. This mega-city has been developed as Tokyo's outer harbor since the 19th century.

Yokohama once had an extensive tram network. The first route was opened between Kanagawa and Ooebashi stops in 1904 by Yokohama Electric Railway Company. Although the tram was a very useful transportation means for local people, it was unfortunately abolished in 1972 due to heavy traffic congestion in the urban area. Most of the streetcars were then scrapped; however, several units are still preserved in museums, public parks, and schools. Let me introduce my favorite one in the Yokohama Tram Museum today.

Electric car number 1510 of the 1500 series was commissioned in 1951 by the Transportation Bureau of Yokohama City. A total of 20 units of the 1500 series were built by Hitachi, but only two units are preserved in the Tram Museum and the Nogeyama Zoo in the city.

The 1500 series is a 600 V DC and middle-sized (12-meter-long) streetcar for 1,372-mm-wide gauge. Specification of the 1500 series is similar to that of PCC cars, which were developed in the United States in the 1930s. For example, two large frontal windows and the elegant rounded roof represent the characteristics of PCC cars. The 1500 series was also known as the first Japanese electric car, which had fluorescent lamps in the cars.

Interior of the electric car, number 1510 of the 1500 series

Official information about theYokohama Tram Museum (in Japanese):
http://www.shiden.yokohama/

Sunday, 24 December 2017

"Jewellumination" on the Keio-Sagamihara Line

The EMU Keio 7000 series passes through Keio-Yomouriland Station

Autumn has gone and winter is here in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Once a cold wave comes, it always snows in the Tohoku District on the Japan Sea. In contrast, it is always clear in the regions here on the Pacific Ocean. The high mountain ranges, which run nearly the full length of the country, give the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean sides of Japan different climatic patterns.

Winter is known as a season of illumination. Urban streets and amusement parks are nicely decorated with millions of LED lights. It is not known exactly what the origin of this event was; but I think that it can be traced to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls. I recently visited Yomiuriland, which is a famous amusement park in the Tokyo metropolitan area, with my family. An annual winter event, "Jewellumination", was being held there. The park was ornamented with a total of 5.5 million LED lights. As its name suggests, Jewellumination brings to people's mind colorful jewels. Specifically, a beautifully illuminated pond took my fancy. 

To visit this fancy park, the nearest railway station is Keio-Yomiuriland on the Keio-Sagamihara Line. The Keio-Sagamihara Line is known as an access route to Tama Newtown. Connecting Chofu on the Keio Main Line and Hashimoto on the JR East Line, its route length is 22.6 km. To liven up Yomiuriland's illumination, Keio-Yomiuriland station is also illuminated by the railway company. The limited express trains make an extraordinary stop on weekends.

"Jewellumination" of Yomiuriland near Keio-Yomiuriland Sta. on the Keio-Sagamihara Line

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Modern LRV in the Traditional Local City

Streetcar MLRV 1000 series travels on the Manyo Line

As I posted before, Takaoka is a local city in Toyama Prefecture, about 400 km northwest of Tokyo. It was opened as a capital city of Etchu Province in the early 8th century. Takaoka then became a castle city in 1609, built by Maeda Toshinaga. Although the castle was abandoned later, Takaoka City could survive as a city of commerce and industry. Bronze and lacquer wares are still famous local products in the city.

Takaoka has a unique tram route named the Manyo Line. The Manyo Line used to be composed of two different lines. The western half was named the Takaoka Tram Line, whereas the eastern half was the Shinminatokou Line. These two lines were then spliced as the Manyo Line in 2002 by a newly established Manyo-sen Company. The direct operation between the two sections started that year. Its total route length is 12.9 km.

Along with the classic street car De 7070 series, the modern LRT (Light Rail Transit), the MLRV 1000 series, is a main fleet on the Manyo Line. The MLRV 1000 series was launched in 2004 to replace old models such as the De 7000 and the De 7060 series. A total of 6 sets were built by Niigata Transys until 2009. It has articulated bodies with two bogies. I like to see the red colored MLRV 1000 series crossing Shokawa River in the sun. It is very beautiful against the blue sky and the indigo colored Sea of Japan.

Streetcar MLRV 1000 series passes through Shokawa Bridge

Official information about  Manyosen (the Manyo Line) in Japanese:

Monday, 18 December 2017

Preserved Funicular Route in Kyoto City

Preserved truck and boat of Keage Incline

Kyoto had been Japan's capital city since 794. When the Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868, Japan's capital was also moved. Kyoto, then, started declining. How have local people tried to overcome that? They promoted industries. They constructed a canal between Lake Biwa and Kyoto City for material transportation, water supply and hydroelectric power.

One of the problems of this canal was the large height difference on the section between the east entrance of the downtown area and the center of the city. The height difference was suitable for hydroelectric power; however, it was an interruption for water-carriage. People in Kyoto again solved this difficult problem. They constructed a funicular line, called the "Keage Incline" on this section. The system was as follows:

A heavily laden boat traveled on the canal from Lake Biwa to Keage Station, the east entrance of the downtown area. The boat was, then, loaded on a truck of Keage Incline. The truck was, then, transported to Nanazenji Station, the center of the city, as a funicular line. The power of the funicular was supplied from the hydroelectric power station beside the canal. What an efficient system it was!

For your information, the total operating length of the Keage Incline was 640 meters. The height difference between the two stations was 36 meters. It took 10 to 15 minutes to get from Keage to Nanzenji Station. Unfortunately, the Keage Incline was abolished in 1948, but this unique funicular line was designated as a National Historic Site in 1996.

Preserved track of Keage Incline

More photos of Keage Incline:

Friday, 15 December 2017

Animal Train on the Tama Monorail Line

Set 1115 of the EMU Tama Monorail 1000 series arrives at Matsugaya Station

This is the fourth post to introduce the Tama Monorail Line. I recently visited the Tama Monorail Line for the first time in two years. What is a new thing with this unique monorail line? 

I found animal poster trains. They were set number 1107 and 1115 of the EMU 1000 series. As you can see, it features illustrations of animals such as giraffes and lions on the side bodies. These animals are a promotion of tourism to Tama Zoological Park located on the line. In Tama Zoological Park, animals are displayed under naturalistic and spectacular habitats set up on its land of 52 hectares in Hino City.

The Tama Monorail Line was opened in 1998. The route penetrates the Tama region, a western suburb of Tokyo, from south to north. Connecting Tama Center and Kamikitadai stations, its operating length is 16.0 km. A straddle-beam system is adopted. The track is double and the electric system is 1,500 V DC. Four-car trains, named the EMU 1000 series, are operated every 6 to 10 minutes. A total of 15 sets of the 1000 series were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi.

Passengers can enjoy both urban and country views from the train windows. The only problem with the Tama Monorail is its train speed. The maximum operating speed is only 65 km per hour. To make matters worse, there are many curved sections on the line. The company should learn from Tokyo Monorail and Shonan Monorail, which conduct high speed operations.

Side view of set 1107 of the EMU Tama Monorail 1000 series

Official information about the Tama Monorail Line: http://www.tama-monorail.co.jp/en/

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Autumn Scenery in Yamanashi Prefecture: Part 2

EMU JR Central 373 series, special express "Ichikawa-Misato" travels on the Minobu Line

Following my previous post, I am going to show you another gorgeous autumn spot in Yamanashi prefecture.

Lake Shibire is located in the central part of Yamanashi Prefecture, about 100 km west of Tokyo. This small lake is surrounded by steep circular mountains, which are estimated as the outer ring of a volcanic caldera. The lake surface is 880 meters above sea level. The season of autumn leaves of Lake Shibire is very beautiful. We could see red, yellow and brown colored leaves that made a nice contrast with the blue sky. Specifically, I like to see an image of the scenery reflected on the lake surface.

To visit this mysterious lake, the nearest railway station is Kai-Iwama on the JR Central Minobu Line. On November 5th, a special express, "Ichikawa-Miasato" was operated between Hamamatsu and Kai-Iwama stations to transport sightseers to this resort area. "Ichikawa-Misato" is the name of the town, where Lake Shibire is located. The train commissioned for the special express, "Ichikawa-Misato" was the EMU JR Central 373 series, which is usually operated as a regular limited express, "Fujikawa".

For your information, Ichikawa-Misato is also known by its name seal-making. As you may know, name seal is a kind of stamp-printing used instead of signatures in Japan. For instance, contracts are often stamped with a name seal instead of being signed. Recently, name seal has become a popular souvenir for tourists from abroad.

Autumn in Yamanashi Prefecture is fun-filled.

Autumn scenery of Lake Shibire near Kai-Iwama Station on the JR Central Minobu Line

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Electric Car 1001: National Important Cultural Property

Electric car 1001 of the 1000 series is exhibited in the Subway Museum

I recently visited the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum) for the first time in six years. What was the news with this unique rail-fans' paradise?

On September 15th, the exhibited car, No. 1001 of the 1000 series, was designated as a National Important Cultural Property. The 1001 is Japan's first subway electric car. It had been operated on the Ginza Line, which is Japan's first subway route. The Ginza Line was opened in 1927 in Tokyo. The subway electric car, No. 1001, was also commissioned that year. It is a 15.5 meter-long small car built by Kisha-seizo. The sills, headers and rivets on the wall look very tough, but, the yellowish steel body with a reddish brown colored roof looks elegant.

From November 3rd to 5th of this year, the interior of the 1001 was opened on special occasions. Using this opportunity, I could examine the interior closely. For instance, I found that the indirect lighting system was adopted. The 1001 was probably Japan's first passenger car with the indirect lighting system. The 1001 traveled on the dark underground track all day long, so that the indirect lighting system was easy on the eyes of passengers. I also found that the floor was made of linoleum. In the 1920's, the floor of most passenger cars was made of wood, so that the linoleum floor was revolutionary. As you may know, linoleum is an incombustible substance, which is suitable for the subway car.

I never run out of things to talk about the subways.

Interior of electric car 1001

Official information about the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum):

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Autumn Foliage on the Sunzu Line

EMU JR East 185 series (block pattern painting) travels on the Sunzu Line

It is December already. A year has passed so soon. Before the New Year, I am going to hurry and show you the topic of this autumn.

Shuzenji is a small town on the Izu Peninsula, about 140 km southwest of Tokyo. It is famous for its hot spring and deep warm-temperate forest. Specifically, the forest of Japanese maple is very beautiful in the season of autumn foliage. I visited one such forest in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) with my family last month. It was the best timing of autumn foliage. The Japanese maple leaves were turning scarlet and yellow in color. We fully enjoyed a stroll throughout the village in the gentle autumn sunlight, but that still wouldn't finish. After sunset, we enjoyed viewing autumn foliage again, as it was beautifully lit up. The night autumn leaves were also elegant.

To visit Shuzenji, the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway is convenient. It takes about two hours from Tokyo by JR East's limited express train, "Odoriko", the EMU 185 series. This JR East train is directly operated onto Izu-Hakone Railway via Mishima Station. As I reported before, a media outlet recently stated that the EMU 185 series will be retired from the JR East and Izu-Hakone lines within a few years. It will be replaced by the EMU E257 series, which is currently operated on the Chuo Main Line.

Operation of the historical train, EMU JR East 185 series, will soon end.

Japanese maple leaves are lit up in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) near Shuzenji Station

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Two Kinds of the EMU 209 Series on the Hachiko Line

EMU JR East 209-3000 series travels on the Hachiko Line

I recently found the word "trainspotter" on several websites, but it is not easy for me to use this word exactly, as I am not a native speaker of English. I hope that the following is a trainspotter's favorite thing.

The JR East Hachiko Line penetrates the north-western part of the Tokyo metropolitan area from south to north. The southern section, between Hachioji and Komagawa, is a commuter route, electrified at 1,500 V DC overhead. The EMU JR East 209 series is the main fleet on the southern section. The 209 series train has stainless steel bodies and a white colored frame part on the front, but if you look at it closely, you will find there are two different kinds of the 209 series on the track.

The first group is called the 209-3000 series, and the second group is named the 209-3100 series. The 209-3000 series has square lights and a roll sign on the front. The white colored frame on the front shows a simple square design. This group was introduced as new cars to the Hachiko Line. On the other hand, the 209-3100 series has rounded lights and an LED destination display on the front. The white colored frame on the front shows a slightly complicated hexagonal design. It was originally built for the Tokyo Waterfront Railway (TWR) 70-000 series and transferred to the Hachiko Line in 2005 after modification.

It is fun for me to perceive a fine difference between these trains. Am I a trainspotter?

EMU JR East 209-3100 series (ex-TWR 70-000 series) travels on the Hachiko Line

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Salmon Runs on the Mito Line

JR East E531 series series stands at Tomobe Station

Salmon go back to where they were born to spawn in late autumn. They travel from the sea to their home streams, and lay their eggs in the pebbles. We can easily see salmon runs in the urban area of Chikusei City, which is located about 80 km north of Tokyo.

When I visited the bank of Gongyo River in Chikusei City last month, many local people were there to observe the salmon runs. They kindly showed me the best point for taking pictures of jumping salmon. It was a low weir in the stream, where the salmon jump and pass through. Shooting the jumping salmon was very difficult. I think taking pictures of a moving train is much easier than that of jumping salmon, as trains are operated by planned timetable. I gave up shooting the jumping salmon at the weir, and moved to a slow stream point, where I could shoot them easily.

To visit this unique salmon runs spot, the nearest station is Shimodate on the JR East Mito Line. My vehicle to Shimodate was the EMU E531 series. The E531 series was launched in 2005 as an AC-DC dual electric system train. It is mainly operated as a 15-car rapid service train with a maximum speed of 130 km per hour on the Joban Line, but it is also operated as a 5-car local train on the Mito Line. The gleaming stainless steel body with a dark blue colored stripe is an outward characteristic of the E531 series.

Salmon runs are seen near Shimodate Station in Chikusei City on the JR East Mito Line

Monday, 27 November 2017

Electric Locomotive Class EF65: JRF and JNR Colors

Electric locomotive, Class EF65 (JRF color) stands at Soga station yard

The Class EF65 is one of the representative electric locomotives (ELs) in Japan. It was commissioned in 1965 as a new standard EL to replace the old model, Class EF60. A total of 308 units were built by Kawasaki heavy industries, Nippon Sharyo and so on.

The EF65 is a 1,500 V direct current (DC) EL for the 1,067 mm-wide tracks. It has six sets of 425 kW DC motors. The axis arrangement is Bo-Bo-Bo in UIC notation. There are three kinds of the Class EF65 ELs. They are Type P for passenger trains, Type F for freight trains and Type PF for both passenger and freight trains. The Type P has a special attachment to pull passenger coaches. The Type F has an attachment for double heading operation.

Today, most Class EF65 ELs have JRF (JR Freight) colored bodies. It is two-toned of light purple and deep blue; but there are some exceptions. For instance, in April, 2016, JRF launched a revival JNR colored EL, unit number 2139 of the Class EF65 (EF65-2139), as a rail-fans service. It was also two-toned, but painted ultramarine color with a cream colored stripe. JNR stands for Japanese National Railways, which was abolished and split into seven JR group companies in 1987.

The JNR colored EF65-2139 is very popular among rail-fans, since it has value as a rarity. The area in front of EF65-2139 was filled with a mass of people, when it was exhibited at Sumidagawa station yard for the 2016 Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival.

Electric locomotive, Class EF65 (JNR color) is exhibited at Sumidagawa Freight Station yard

Friday, 24 November 2017

Philosopher's Walk on the Keihan Line

EMU Keihan 2400 series stands at Sanjo Station on the Outou Line

Kyoto is known as a historical city. It was Japan's capital from 794 to 1868. There are numerous old temples and shrines, which are popular among tourists. Is that all that I understand about Kyoto? No, it isn't. This city is also known as a capital of academics. Thus, academic research is another important function of Kyoto City, and there are many famous universities such as Kyoto University and Doshisha University.

One such symbol as the capital of academics is Philosopher's Walk in the Higashiyama area. It is a walking trail on the bank of Sosui-bunsen Canal between Wakaoji Shrine and Jisyo-ji Temple. This road is so called because a famous philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, is said to have walked on this trail in meditation. Philosopher's Walk draws in many visitors specifically during the spring and autumn tourist seasons.

To visit Philisopher's Walk, the nearest station is Demachiyanagi on the Keihan Outou Line. Keihan is one of the major private railway companies in the Kansai area. The route extends to the eastern part of the Kansai area including Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka Prefectures. The track is electrified (1,500 V DC, overhead) and the gauge size is 1,435 mm.

One of the major fleets is the EMU 2400 series, which is a standard commuter train, launched in 1969. A total of 6 sets, 42 units, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The 2400 series is known as the first commuter train with air-conditioners in the Kansai area.

The entrance of  Philosopher's Walk near Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan-Outou Line

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Revival Colored Train on the Keikyu Line

Set 823 of the Keikyu 800 series, "revival colored train", arrives at Nokendai Station

As I introduced before, the EMU 800 series is the oldest active model on the Keikyu Line. It was commissioned in 1978 to speed up local (all-stations) trains. A total of 27 sets (3-car and 6-car trains), 132 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The specification of the 800 series is rather old. The field chopper electric control system of one generation earlier is still used; however, this classic direct-current motor sound is nostalgic and attractive for me.

You can see one large light on the frontal face of the 800 series. It is similar to a Japanese specter, Hitotsume-kozo (One-eyed Goblin). It also looks like a Japanese doll, Daruma, whose outlines of the face is also painted red. Anyway, the face of the 800 series is quite unique. On November 12th, 2016, Keikyu launched a revival colored train, set 823 of the 800 series on their track. The side body of set 823 is two-tones of red and cream colors, which was returned to its original appearance in 1978. This revival colored train is photogenic, and very popular among rail-fans.

For your information, the gauge size of the Keikyu Line is 1,435 mm, which is wider than that of most railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area. To make use of this advantage, the maximum speed of the Keikyu trains is 120 km/hour, which is same as their rival, the EMU E233-3000 series on the JR East Tokaido Main Line.

Set 823 of the Keikyu 800 series, "revival colored train", arrives at Keikyu-Kamata Station

Official information about the EMU 800 series revival colored train (in Japanese):

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Autumn Scenery in Yamanashi Prefecture

EMU JR Central 373 series, limited express "Fujikawa", travels on the MInobu Line

It is late autumn in Japan. We can see beautiful autumn leaves here and there in the Tokyo metropolitan area. One day, I visited Yamanashi Prefecture with my family. Our destination was Kai-Ueno on the JR Central Minobu Line, which is located about 150 km west of Tokyo via Kofu on the JR East Chuo Main Line.

After getting off at Kai-Ueno Station, we started strolling in the countryside. We saw many ears of reed rustling in the wind. They were very beautiful backed by the autumn-colored mountains. The rice field has already changed to a gold color, and it was time of the harvest, so rice reaping machines were making a roaring sound. When we walked along the Minobu Line track in the rice field, a train passed by us. It was a 3-car train, the limited express Fujikawa, the EMU JR Central 373 series. It was shining beautifully in the autumn sunlight. The contrast between the silver-colored stainless-steel bodies and the blue sky was also fantastic. 

The Minobu Line penetrates the mountainous area along Fuji River in the central part of Japan. Connecting Kofu in Yamanashi Prefecture and Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture, the total operating length is 88.4 km. The whole route is electrified. The section between Fuji and Fujinomiya is a double track, and the other interval is a single track. The track gauge is 1067 mm, and the electric system is 1,500V DC overhead. The EMU 373 and 313 series are main fleets on the Minobu Line.

Autumn scenery near Kai-Ueno Station on the Minobu Line

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The New 5000 Series: Keio's High-end Commuter Train

EMU Keio 5000 series passes through Hachiman-yama Station

Commuter trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area are terribly crowded during rush hour. The railway companies have been enforcing a transport capacity by increasing the number of trains and providing longer trains. They have also been constructing double-double tracks as drastic measures.

Do they have to continue these efforts forever? No, they don't. The railway companies have to change their strategies in the near future. Why? Because Japan is facing a declining of birth rate and an aging population. In other words, the railway companies have to prepare for the decreasing number of passengers in the future. Each company should survive as a chosen railway line for passengers to use. What is their next strategy? Quality will be more important than quantity. Let's look at an example.

On September 29th, Keio Electric Railway launched a new commuter train, the EMU 5000 series, on their track. This model has multi-purpose seats, which the conductor can change from long seats to cross seats using a remote control system. Currently, the 5000 series is only used as a standard commuter train with the long seat mode; however, it will be also operated as a reserved seat train with a cross seat mode from next March. This state-of-art system is similar to that of the Seibu 40000 series, S-Train. Needless to say, the width and the quality of the seats are much higher than those of previous models.

The new Keio 5000 series is the next generation high-end commuter train.

Passenger seats of the EMU Keio 5000 series (long seat mode)

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

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Japanese Machu Picchu on the Bantan Line: Part 2

DMU JR West KiHa 189 series, limited express Hamakaze, travels on the Bantan Line

Following my previous post, I am going to show you Japanese Machu Picchu a little bit more.

Japanese Machu Picchu, namely Takeda Castle Ruins, is located at the top of Mt. Kojo. The stone walls of the castle were constructed with various forms of stones on the steep mountain slopes. There are many gaps between the stones, if you look closely. Why? According to a volunteer guide on the site, these gaps are intentionally made in preparation for an earthquake. In other words, these gaps function as a base isolation structure. As you may know, the stone walls would be easily destroyed by shaking with seismic vibrations, if they were too brittle. I admired the wisdom of the ancestors.

To visit Japanese Machu Picchu from the Osaka area, a limited express train, Hamakaze (beach wind) is convenient. Hamakaze is a 3-car diesel train operated with the DMU JR West KiHa 189 series. The silver colored stainless-steel bodies with red and white stripes are dashingly handsome. The KiHa 189 series was launched in 2010 to replace the old limited express model, KiHa 181 series. A total of 7 sets, 21 cars, have been built by Niigata Transys. Each car has two units of Komatsu's 450 ps diesel engines. The hydraulic system is adopted for transmitting engine power to the driving wheels of the vehicle. The maximum speed is 130 km per hour. 

Hamakaze links Osaka with Takeda, a gateway station to the Japanese Machu Picchu on the Bantan Line, in two hours.

Takeda Castle Ruins near Takeda Station on the Bantan Line

Official information about the DMU JR West KiHa 189 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 9 November 2017

EMU Tokyo Monorail 2000 Series: New and Old Colors

EMU Tokyo Monorail 2000 series (new color)

The trains in Tokyo are constantly changing. Whenever I get news such as debuting new models, retiring old models and renovating deteriorated models, I cannot take my eyes away from the kaleidoscopic changes. Tokyo Monorail is no exception. What is the news with this company? They are renovating their old model named the EMU 2000 series.

The 2000 series was launched in 1997, when the extension route between Haneda Airport (present Haneda Airport Terminal 1) and Haneda Airport Terminal 2 stations was opened. A total of four sets, 24 units, have been built by Hitachi. One set is composed of four motor cars and two trailers. The 2000 series is the company's first model with VVVF inverter electric control (variable frequency drive) system. The seats consist of both cross and long ones. The maximum operating speed is 80 km/hour.

Eighteen years later, the company started the renovation of the 2000 series. For instance, the color design of the bodies was changed from white with blue and red colored stripes to white with light green and light blue colors on the doors and the roofs. Currently, we can see both new and old colored trains on the track.

In the meantime, Tokyo Monorail Company belongs to JR East group. They have a 17.8 km-long route named the Haneda Airport Line between Hamamatsucho and Haneda Airport Terminal 2. The "Haneda Express" train connects Hamamatsucho and Haneda Airport International Terminal without stopping in only thirteen minutes.

EMU Tokyo Monorail 2000 series (old color)

Official guide of Tokyo Monorail:
Official Gallery of Tokyo Monorail (in Japanese):

Monday, 6 November 2017

Indonesian Railway Update: The EMU 6000 Series

Set 24 of the EMU 6000 series in Jakarta, Indonesia (September, 2017, Photo: Faris Fadhli)

I have received a photo from an active Indonesian rail fan. The EMU ex-Tokyo Metro 6000 series has continued to play an active part in Jakarta, Indonesia, ever since it moved from Japan, and came into service in 2011.

The 6000 series is a 1,067 mm gauge and 1,500 V direct current EMU, which was originally launched in Japan in 1968. A total of 36 sets, 353 units, were built until 1990 by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Kisha Seizo, Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Sharyo. The first and the second set were originally operated on the Tozai Line for testing. The third set and later have been operated on the Chiyoda Line. Among the 36 sets of the 6000 series, 25 sets have already been moved to Jakarta after their retirement from the Chiyoda Line, because the Indonesian railway operator has been pursuing modernization of the railways in their capital city.

When I lived in Jakarta, I saw that the first transfer of the 6000 series from the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line had just arrived at Bukit Duri Depot. Unfortunately, I couldn't get on its commercial train, as I had to come back to Japan immediately after arrival of the 6000 series. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent photo. I am glad to see that the EMU 6000 series is playing an active part in Jakarta.

Currently, only three sets are still staying in Japan.

Set 29 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 6000 series travels on the Odakyu Line (August, 2016)

Friday, 3 November 2017

Special Night Visit to Torin-in Temple in Kyoto City

EMU JR West 221 series stands at Kyoto Station on the San-in Main Line 

Torin-in is a small Buddhist temple in Kyoto City, about 520 km west of Tokyo. It is usually closed, but open to the public when special visits are held on moonlit nights in October. When I visited Torin-in with my family, it was a calm night. There was no wind. The moon was shining in the sky. Plenty of lanterns were throwing a light over the temple garden. We enjoyed the tea ceremony while looking at the moon and the garden.

To visit this beautiful temple, we took the JR West San-in Main Line. The San-in Main Line is one of the transportation arteries in the western part of Japan. Connecting Kyoto and Hatabu, the total route length is 673.8 km. The track is mainly single, partly double. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. It is partly electrified. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. We got off at Hanazono Station. It took about 10 minutes from Kyoto by local train. The section between Kyoto and Hanazono is electrified double track. It is a busy commuter route for office workers and students who commute to the city center of Kyoto.

Our vehicle was the EMU JR West 221 series. The 221 series was launched in 1989 as the first model of JR West after the break-up and privatization of Japan National Railways in 1987. A total of 474 units have been built. Passengers can use this luxury commuter train with cozy seats without any extra charge.

Garden of Tourin-in Temple near Hanazono Station on the San-in Main Line

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Dr. Yellow: The High Speed Inspector

Set T4 of the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow, stands at Shinagawa Station

You may think that all the train models on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen have already been shown in this blog, but wait a moment please. There still remains an important model. What is it?

This is the first time to introduce the EMU 923 series to you. The 923 series is an electric and track inspection train belonging to JR Central and JR West. The 923 series was launched in 2000 to replace an old inspection train, the 922 series. A total of two sets, 14 units, were built by Hitachi and Nippon Sharyo. Set T-4 belongs to JR Central; meanwhile, JR West owns set T-5. The mission of the 923 series is to inspect tracks, signals, telecommunication, and electric power systems. The body is designed according to the 700 series.

One of the features of this inspection train is its high speed. The 923 series is able to be operated with a maximum speed of 270 km/hour during the inspection. The data is immediately analyzed and used for the maintenance of tracks. The function of the 923 series is similar with that of the JR East E926 series which is operated on the Tohoku Shinkansen and other Shinkansens connected therewith.

The nickname of the 923 series is "Dr. Yellow", as it has vivid yellow colored bodies. Dr. Yellow is very popular among rail-fans. JR Central does not release the timetable of Dr. Yellow, but many families with children flock to stations to see this rare train on its operation date.

Side view of set T4 of the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow

Official information about the EMU JR Central 923 series, Dr. Yellow (in Japanese):

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Class DD51: The Long-standing Diesel Locomotive

DL Class DD51 is exhibited at the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival (October, 2016) 

The day of the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival is drawing near again. What is the Sumidagawa Station Freight Festival? It is an annual event held at Sumidagawa Freight Station by JR Freight (JRF). JRF is one of the JR group railway companies established in 1987. Different from the other JR group companies, JRF operates their trains on a nationwide scale, using the other regional JR group companies' tracks.

Taking this opportunity, I am going to show you what it was like at the last festival held on October 30th, 2016. The main event of the festival was an exhibition of JRF's locomotive fleet. The vermilion colored diesel locomotive (DL), Class DD51, drew a crowd. The DD51 is a diesel-hydraulic locomotive launched in 1962. A total of 649 units were built between 1962 and 1978. The DD51 has a convex type body with three double-shaft bogies. Two of them on both ends of the body are motive bogies and the other one at the center of the body is a bogie without power (B+2+B in UIC notation). The DD51 has two 1,100 ps (or 1,000 ps) diesel engines.

Class DD51 is often operated as a double-heading train. For instance, a famous overnight sleeper train, Hokutosei, was a double-heading train pulled by the DD51 on the section between Hakodate and Sapporo on Hokkaido Island. Unfortunately, Hokutosei was abolished in 2015, when the Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened.

Class DD51 is the evergreen long-standing DL in Japan.

Close up of DD51 1805 (October, 2016)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Naotora: The Lady Warlord on the Tenryu-Hamanako Line

Unit TH2102 of the Diesel Rail-car TH2100 series travels on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway

Is movie tourism or TV drama tourism popular in your country? Yes, it is in Japan. For instance, Shimonada Station on the JR Shikoku Yosan Line is famous among movie fans because Shimonada has been used as a shooting location for many movies.

Recently, a popular TV drama "Naotora, the Lady Warlord" aired on Sunday evenings. Naotora was a real person in history. She was born in 1536 as a daughter of the lord of Iinoya. Naotora inherited Iinoya Castle and lived powerfully in the civil war age. She faced many personal troubles, but eventually overcame them. Naotora also lived with love.

"Naotora, the Lady Warlord" is set in the western part of Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, about 270 km west of Tokyo. The nearest station from the Iinoya Castle is Kiga on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway. This local private railway is the former Futamata Line of Japanese National Railways (JNR). It was spun off from JNR and privatized as the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway in 1986. Connecting Kakegawa and Shinjohara, the route length is 67.7 km. The track is single and non-electrified. A lovely diesel rail-car is operated every half an hour on average. After getting off at Kiga Station, I visited Ryotan-ji, which is the temple of Naotora. The Japanese garden designed by Kobori Enshu in the 17th century was very beautiful.

I enjoyed the TV drama tour and the local railway with my family on an autumn day.

Beautiful garden of Ryotan-ji Temple near Kiga Station on the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway