Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Mito Line: Unique AC-DC Local Route

EMU JR East 415-1500 series travels on the Mito Line
The JR East Mito Line is an east-west trending local route in the northern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Oyama in Tochigi Prefecture and Tomobe in Ibaraki Prefecture, there are 16 stations on the 50.2 km long route. The track is single and its gauge size is 1,067mm.

A unique feature of the Mito Line is its electric system. 1,500V DC overhead is applied in the western section between Oyama and Otabayashi, while 20,000V AC overhead is used in the eastern section between Otabayashi and Tomobe. The reason for applying the AC system in the eastern section is that the direct current has adverse effects on the observation work taking place at the national magnetic observatory located near the track. AC-DC local line is quite unique in Japan.

The trains on the Mito Line, of course, have an AC-DC dual electric system. As I introduced before, the EMU E501 series is an example of such trains. The other AC-DC trains on the Mito Line are the EMU 415-1500 and the E531 series.

The 415-1500 series was launched in 1986. It is a 4-car train, which has bolster-less bogies. The electric control system is an old-fashioned rheostatic with a field weakening mechanism. The E531 series was launched in 2005. It is mainly operated on the Joban Line with a maximum speed of 130 km per hour to reinforce its competitiveness against its adjacent new railway, Tsukuba Express.

The Mito Line is a fascinating unique route for rail-fans.

EMU JR East E531 series travels on the Mito Line

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Preserved Dead Track in Yokohama City

EMU JR East E233-1000 series stands at Yokohama Station on the Keihin-Tohoku Line
Yokohama is located some 20km southwest of Tokyo. It is the second largest city in Japan. This mage-city has a population of 3.7 million and has been developed as Tokyo's outport since the 19th century. With the development of the port of Yokohama, passenger and freight railways to each pier had been constructed.

Currently, most of the railway tracks have already been abolished, but some of them are preserved as industrial heritages by Yokohama City Office. They are well-groomed trails and open to the public. I enjoyed a stroll on the preserved track with my family last weekend joining a special walking event held by JR East.

Our walk started from JR East Kannai Station. We headed to the preserved track of the ex-Yokohama Harbor Line, which was opened in 1910 and abolished in 1987. There are many historical constructions on the ex-track such as a platform and truss bridges. My most favorite spot is Yokohama Seamen's Club & Inn Building, which was constructed in 1999. Why is this new building my favorite? It is because this building was constructed over the ex-railway track to preserve the heritage. In other words, the preserved railway track penetrates under the building.

To visit this interesting spot, JR East Keihin-Tohoku Line is convenient. It takes only five minutes from Yokohama to Kannai Station on the light blue colored train. It is the EMU E233-1000 series, one of JR East's standard commuter trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Preserved dead track passes under International Seamen's Club & Inn Building in Yokohama City

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old Monorail Train from Danish Rail-fan's Photo Album

EMU Tokyo Monorail 700/800 series leaves Tennoz Isle Station (1996)
Photo: Nicolai Okkels
Following the EMU Keikyu ex-1000 series and the JR East 253 series, I am going to show you the other old train picture from a Danish rail-fan's photo album.

The Haneda Airport Line of Tokyo Monorail Company is the second oldest monorail route in Tokyo. To be technically accurate, the Haneda Airport Line is "the oldest straddle-beam system monorail route" in Tokyo. It was opened between Hamamatsu-cho on the JNR (present JR East) Yamanote Line and Haneda Airport in 1964 as an airport access route from downtown Tokyo to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda).

The EMU 700/800 series was launched in 1982 as the first air-conditioned cars on the line. A total of 19 units had been manufactured for five years by Hitachi. The body was made of aluminium alloy for weight saving. The specifications were just standard at the time, as it had traditional DC motors with a rheostatic control system.

The top photo was probably taken near Tennozu Isle Station in the mid-1990s. A 6 car southbound train was leaving the station and heading to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda). The design was rather old, but the red-colored body with a white stripe is my favorite. This classic coloring has recently been revived as a special train on the Haneda Line. The EMU 700/800 series was retired from the track in 1998 to be replaced by a new model, the EMU 2000 series.

Thank you again Nicolai-san for providing this blog with your precious train photograph.
EMU Tokyo Monorail 2000 series approaches Ooi-keibajo-mae Station (2014)
More information about the EMU Tokyo Monorail 2000 series (in Japanese):