Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Undergoing Generation Change: The Yokohama Line

Old generation train, the EMU JR East 205 series on the Yokohama Line
As I reported before, JR East launched a new model, the EMU E233-6000 series, on the Yokohama Line on February 16th this year. The company plans to introduce 28 sets, 224 units, of the E233-6000 series by this August, which means that the entire existing 205 series will be retired from the Yokohama Line soon. I visited Nagatsuta Station last weekend to take photographs of the 205 series and to say "sayonara (goodbye)" to those old trains.

I stood and waited for the 205 series at the end of the platform, but only the new model trains came into the platform one after another. It started to rain after a period of time and there was no roof at the end of the platform. Rail fans indeed require patience.

One hour later, the rain stopped. The long-awaited train, set number H28 of the EMU 205 series, arrived at platform number 2 of Nagatsuta Station. It was nearly 6 o'clock in the evening. I could shoot the photographs just before sunset.

As of July 12th, 2014, it is said that half of the 205 series trains have already left Kamakura Rail Yard, the home depot of the 205 series. According to the media, 21 sets will be transferred to Jakarta to spend their "second life" on the tracks in Indonesia; while the others will be scrapped(?).

Sayonara the 205 series and welcome the E233-6000 series onto the Yokohama Line.

New generation train, the EMU JR East E233-6000 series on the Yokohama Line

Monday, July 21, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of Shinkansen

Unit number 21-86 of the EMU Shinkansen 0 series is preserved in SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
The "Shinkansen" is the bullet train that represents Japanese railways. Its total network length is nearly 2,700km and there are 1 million passengers per day. The first Shinkansen, namely Tokaido Shinkansen, was opened between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in 1964, just before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.

The first model, the EMU 0 series, achieved a maximum speed of 210 kilometers/hour (133MPH). It was the world speed record of commercial trains at that time. Since then, Japanese National Railways and its successors, JR companies, have launched 16 models one after another. The fastest ones are the EMU E5 and the E6 series, which have a maximum speed of 320km/hour (199MPH); but more importantly, there have been no fatal passenger accidents on the Shinkansen so far.

This year, Shinkansen is celebrating 50 years of operation. JR group, especially JR Central, plans plenty of memorial events on the Tokaido Shinkansen. Events such as special exhibitions and special tours are being held. Currently, we can see many posters and decorations to celebrate the anniversary in Tokyo station yard.

It is also worth noting that I have wispy memories about the "Pre-Shinkansen era" in my childhood. Getting onto the limited express train, Kodama (echo) of the EMU 151 series, I visited Shizuoka Prefecture with my parents for a summer vacation. I still remember that I enjoyed looking out the window at the passing scenery. Currently, it is difficult to enjoy the scenery from the Shinkansen windows due to the high speed of the trains.

Shinkansen travels toward its next half a century.

The 50th anniversary posters of the Tokaido Shinkansen are seen in Tokyo Station yard
More information about the Tokaido Shinkansen:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Kodomonokuni Line: Access to the Children's Land

EMU Yokohama Minato Mirai Y000 series arrives at Nagatsuta Terminal on the Kodomonokuni Line
Kodomonokuni (Children's Land) is an amusement park operated by a social welfare corporation, Kodomonokuni Association, in Yokohama City, some 30km west of Tokyo. Construction started in 1959 in celebration of the marriage of the Crown Prince Akihito (reigning emperor), and was completed in 1965. The large site was an ammunitions store area until WWII.

Although Kodomonokuni was a popular spot among urban families, there was a big issue... public transportation to get there. Kodomonokuni Association, then, constructed an access railway, the Kodomonokuni Line in 1967.

The Kodomonokuni Line is a short (3.4km) single track railway connecting Kodomonokuni and Nagatsuta on the Tokyu Denentoshi and JR East Yokohama lines. The electric system is 1,500V DC overhead. Currently, the owner is Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway and the trains are operated by Tokyu Corporation.

The present EMU, Y000 series is the only model on the Kodomonokuni Line. It debuted in 1999 as the fifth generation train on the route. A total of 3 sets, 6 units, have been manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo. To reduce the manufacturing costs, it has a common design and specifications with Tokyu's EMU 3000 series on the Meguro Line.

The blue and yellow stripes on the stainless body are vivid and popular among kids. The train is always crowded with families at the end of each week. It is also crowded on weekdays with boys and girls joining school excursions from elementary and junior high schools in the surrounding areas.

EMU Y000 series stands at Kodomonokuni Terminal on the Kodomonokuni Line