Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sayonara, EMU Keisei 3300 Series

EMU Keisei 3300 series travels on the Kanamachi Line (September, 2012)
Old trains in Tokyo retire one after another. On February 12th, Keisei Electric Railway made a press release announcing that the EMU Keisei 3300 series will be retired from the track by the end of February.

The 3300 series was launched in 1968 for direct operating trains between the Keisei and the Toei Asakusa Subway lines. A total of 54 units have been manufactured for five years by Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Kisha Kaisha. Its specification is rather old (DC motors with a rheostatic control system); however, the 3300 series still keeps a beautiful figure on the track.

I like this nostalgic train, as the four large front lights are very cute. When I was a child, the Keisei train was synonymous with the 3300 series. It was called Akaden (the red train), since the body color was red at that time. The 3300 series really goes with the nostalgic old town of Tokyo.

For your information, the successor of the 3300 series is the EMU 3000 series. It was launched in 2002 and is still manufactured to replace the old trains on the Keisei Line. I know that the 3000 series is a modern commuter train with latest specifications, but I get a cold impression from this train with its stainless steel body.

If there's a beginning, there will be an end (Japanese proverb). The last run of the 3300 series is planned on February 28th. Sayonara (good bye), the Keisei 3300 series.
EMU Keisei 3000 series travels on the Keisei Main Line (September, 2014)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Narcissus Blooming Season on the Uchibo Line

EMU JR East 209-2100 series and the full-blown narcissus in Iwai Station on the Uchibo Line
It is still cold in Japan. The daytime maximum temperature is lower than 10 degrees Celsius, but the sun is getting stronger in the Tokyo metropolitan area. I am sure that spring is just around the corner and I can't wait for a genial season. Following last year, I visited Chiba Prefecture with my family to see the narcissus blossoms. Our destination was Iwai on the JR East Uchibo Line. It takes about one hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo Station by the limited express train, "Sazanami (Ripple)", the EMU 257-500 series.

When we visited Iwai last weekend, the narcissus blossoms were at their peak. They had bloomed in fields, on slopes, on riversides and in gardens. The sweet smell of the flowers attracted my family; while, I enjoyed taking photographs of flowers.

After coming back to Iwai Station, I found a narcissus garden adjacent to the platform. I could shoot the local train, EMU 209-2100 series, backed by full blown narcissus flowers. The 209 series was originally debuted in Tokyo in 1993 to replace the old commuter EMU, the 103 series. It has induction motors with a VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) control system.

The EMU 209 series was, then, introduced onto the Uchibo Line in 2009 under the names of the 209-2000 and the 209-2100 series, after the original 209 series was renovated. Different from the original 209 series, the 209-2000 and 209-2100 series have semi-cross seats in the first and last cars.
Full-blown narcissus on the bank of Iwai River near Iwai Station on the JR East Uchibo Line

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 100th Anniversary of Takarazuka Revue

Memorial plate of "the 100th anniversary of Takarazuka Revue" is displayed on the 8000 series

One of the features of private railway companies in Tokyo is their diversification of business. For example, almost all major companies have their own department stores on their lines. The other example is the real estate business. Railway companies own land and develop housing and condominiums to rent or sell on their lines. An unusual business example is the sponsoring of professional baseball teams. The most famous of one is the Saitama Seibu Lions, which is owned by Seibu Railway in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

Railways in Osaka are also not to be outdone by those in Tokyo. For instance, Hakyu Railway has a revue and their theater in Takarazuka City on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line. Takarazuka Revue is a famous musical troupe featuring an all-woman cast. It was established in 1914, so last year marked its centennial. Since the revue side is unfamiliar territory to me, please review an example of the stage information in the website of Takarazuka Revue.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Takarazuka Revue, Hankyu Railway displays a celebration plate on the front of their trains. Please look at the pictures. It is the EMU 8000 series with a special plate. The 8000 series is a standard commuter train, which was launched in 1989 for the Kobe and the Takarazuka lines. A total of 102 units have been manufactured over nine years by Alna Koki. The so-called architrave-style front mask is a typical design of the trains in the 1990s.

EMU Hankyu 8000 series (with the memorial plate) stands at Juso Station on the Takarazuka Line