Thursday, July 27, 2017

Toyama Port Line: Another Tram Route in Toyama City

Toyama Light Rail Company TRL0600 series, "Portram", travels on the Toyama Port Line

Tram routes in Japan have been abolished one after another due to heavy traffic jams. However, there is an exception. Toyama city, which is located about 390 km northwest of Tokyo, recognizes the merits of a tram system. This local city has been creating a tram network as a main urban transportation system from the point of view of environmental protection and a barrier-free concept.

The Toyama-ko Line (Toyama Port Line) is a typical tram route in Toyama City. It had been operated as a standard railway by JR West. It was, then, succeeded by Toyama Light Railway Company, and renovated as a tram route in 2006. Connecting Toyama-eki-kita (Toyama Station North) and Iwasehama, its total operating length is 7.6 km. The track is single and electrified. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead.

The main fleet of the Toyama Port Line is the TRL0600 series. It is a low-floor type articulated vehicle. So far, a total of 7 sets, 14 units have been built by Niigata Transys. One of the features of this model is that each set shows a different body color. It is very colorful backed by the urban scenery.

For your information, the Toyama Port Line will be connected with the other tram route, named City Tram Line at JR West Toyama Station in 2020. Once the construction is completed, the trams are directly operated between the above two lines. It will be more and more convenient for passengers.

Toyama Light Rail Company TRL0600 series, "Portram", stands at Iwasehama Station

Official information about the Toyama Light Rail TRL0600 series, "Portram" (in Japanese):
Official information about the Toyama Port Line (in Japanese):

Monday, July 24, 2017

Road to the Resort Island

Diesel rail-car JR West Class KiHa 47 of the KiHa 40 series stands at Shimonoseki Station

Tsunoshima is a small island offshore in the Sea of Japan in Yamaguchi Prefecture, about 1,100 km west of Tokyo. It is famous its white beach with emerald green water. The delicious sea food also attracts holidaymakers. What made Tsunoshima Island famous is Tsunoshima-ohashi Bridge. Connecting Honshu (the main island of Japan) and Tsunoshima Island, whose length is 1,780 m. It was opened in 2000 as a free prefectural road. Amagase Park, which is located at the Honshu side of the bridge entrance, is a notable photogenic spot. 

To get to this resort island, I took the JR West Sanin Line from Shimonoseki, and headed to Kottoi Station. It took about 70 minutes by local train. I, then, changed there for the bus bound for Tsunoshima Island. My vehicle on the Sanin Line was a diesel rail-car, Class KiHa 47 of the KiHa 40 series. The body color was vermilion, which is the so-called "metropolitan color". The KiHa 40 series is a standard diesel rail-car for local lines. It was launched in 1977 by Japanese National Railways (JNR). JNR was Japan's largest railway network at that time, so, the KiHa 40 series was soon introduced to local lines all over Japan such as Hokkaido, Honshu and Kyushu Island. After JNR was split into seven railway companies in 1987, the KiHa 40 series has started retirement. For instance, the last KiHa 40 series rolling stock in the Tokyo metropolitan area disappeared in March this year. 

I enjoyed the beautiful resort island and the nostalgic diesel rail-car in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Tsunoshima-ohashi bridge near Kottoi Station on the JR West Sanin Line

Friday, July 21, 2017

New Relaxing Train on the Seibu Railway Network

EMU Seibu 40000 series passes through Tsunashima Station on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line

Japan has a problem that urban commuter trains are always crowded in the rush hour. On the other hand, it will soon be another problem that a number of urban commuters decrease due to the decreasing birthrate and population. It is a dilemma for the railway companies. What should they do?

For the former problem, the urban railway companies are continuously conducting enhancement of transportation capacity, such as constructions of double-double tracks and introductions of the longer trains. On the other hand, for the latter problem, many companies have started to operate special commuter trains with reserved seats to improve the quality of passenger service.

Please look at the picture. It is Seibu's new EMU, the 40000 series, launched on March 25th this year. This new model is operated as a commuter train with reserved seats between Tokorozawa on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line and Toyosu on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line on weekdays. It is also operated as a sightseeing train between Seibu-Chichibu on the Seibu-Chichibu Line and Motomachi-Chukagai on the Minato-Mirai Line on weekends.

One of the features of the 40000 series is its multi-purpose seat, which the conductor can change from long seats to cross seats using a remote control. Needless to say, the 40000 series is used as a cross seat train, when it is operated as a reserved seat train, named the "S-train". It is similar with those of "Keikyu Wing" and "Tobu TJ Liner".

S-train... it is a new relaxing train on the Seibu railway network.

EMU Seibu 40000 series leaves Tsunashima Station on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line

Official information about S-train (in Japanese):