Monday, September 1, 2014

EMU Tobu 100 Series, "Spacia": New Colors

EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia" (purple color), arrives at JR East Shinjuku Station 

Tobu is one of the major railway companies in Japan. They operate the largest private railway network in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and are aggressive in diversifying their business. Their current biggest news is the grand opening of Tokyo Sky Tree, the 634 meter-high world's tallest broadcasting tower near Oshiage Station in 2012.

Tobu Railway, then, geared up for the promotion of tourism to Nikko, a World Heritage Site by renovating their flagship train, "Spacia", the EMU 100 series. The interior of Spacia has become more gorgeous and the exterior colors have also been changed. Currently, there are three body colors, namely orange, purple and blue.

Spacia was launched in 1990. A total of 9 sets, 54 units have been manufactured so far by Alna Koki and Tokyu Sharyo. Because of its unique design and high specifications, Spacia was elected as the 1991 Blue Ribbon Prize train. As you may know, the Blue Ribbon Prize is an annual award presented by the Japan Railfan Club since 1958, awarded to the best train that was launched in the previous year. Actually, almost all awarded trains to date are representative carriages in each railway company.

I, recently, had a chance to take photographs of the new colored Spacia in JR East Shinjuku Station, since Spacia is directly operated onto the JR East lines in the downtown Tokyo area. The new colored trains were shining beautifully under the evening illumination in the station yard.

EMU Tobu 100 series, "Spacia" (green color), stands at JR East Shinjuku Station

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cool Cascade on the Hakone Tozan Line

EMU 30000 series with a gangway on the front (right) and the same model without a gangway (left) 
It is late summer in Japan. The maximum daytime temperature is still over 30 degrees Celsius in Tokyo, but a breath of fresh air in the sight of a waterfall must be cooling. I visited a small waterfall in Kanagawa Prefecture on the weekend.

Chisuji-no-taki Waterfall is located in the forest of the Hakone area near Kowakidani Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. The height of the fall is only several meters, but it is a paradise in summer, as visitors can feel a rush of cool air there. "Chisuji" means "one thousand lines". As its name suggests, we can see many string-like water flows on the small cliff.

To visit this gorgeous spot, the Hakone Tozan Line is convenient. Connecting Odawara on the Odakyu Line and Goura, the 15 km long route climbs Hakone Mountain. The whole route is an electrified single track. The gauge size and electric system are 1,067 mm and 1,500 V DC overhead between Odawada and Hakone-Yumoto, meanwhile 1,435 mm and 700 V DC overhead between Hakone-Yumoto and Goura.

Before leaving Odawara, I saw two sets of Odakyu Romance Cars, the EMU 30000 series, in the station yard. You can easily compare a train with a gangway in the front and the same model without a gangway. I could take a unique photograph in a lucky twist.

The cool cascade and the unique train photo... this is killing two birds with one stone.
Chisuji-no-taki Waterfall is seen near Kowakidani Station on the Hakone Tozan Line

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Newcomers on the Branch Line

Set number 03F of the EMU Tokyo Metro 05 series travels on the Kita-Ayase Branch Line
As I introduced before, the Kita-Ayase Branch Line is known as the shortest subway route in the Tokyo metropolitan area. As its name suggests, it is a feeder route of the Chiyoda Line, which is one of the main lines operated by Tokyo Metro. Connecting Ayase on the Chiyoda Line and Kita-Ayase near Ayase Rail Yard, its operating length is only 2.1 km. The entire route is an electrified double track. Three car trains are operated every 15 minutes on average.

In May this year, Tokyo Metro replaced all trains on the Kita-Ayase Branch Line. As a result, the EMU 5000 series, which was the Tokyo Metro's oldest train manufactured in 1967, was finally retired. I think that all of those trains have already been scrapped.

Who are the newcomers? They are the EMU 05 series from the Tozai Line. Tokyo Metro has renovated 4 sets, a total of 12 units, of the 05 series, and has relaunched them on the Kita-Ayase Branch Line. The key of the renovations are the following.

Firstly, the control system has been changed from armature chopper to IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive). The SiC (silicon carbide) module, which has high temperature stability, is used for this system. Secondly, the stripes of the colors on the bodies have been changed from light blue (the Tozai Line color) to green (the Chiyoda Line color). Thirdly, the interior has also been renovated. For instance, new 17 inch-wide LCD displays have been installed just above the passenger doors.

Set number 13F of the EMU Tokyo Metro 05 series stands at Ayase Terminal