Saturday, 24 February 2018

New and Old Trains on the Ikegami Line

EMU Tokyu 7000 series travels on the Tamagawa Line

As I posted before, Tokyu Corporation celebrated the 90th anniversary of their Ikegami line last October. In commemoration of the 90th anniversary, I am going to introduce the variation of the Ikegami line trains today. Although the Ikegami line is a short and local route, four kinds of trains are operated on the line. They are the EMU 1000, 1000-1500, 7000 and 7700 series. 

The latest model is the 7000 series. It was commissioned in 2007 to replace old models on the Ikegami and the Tamagawa lines. A total of 9 sets, 27 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and J-TREC. The outer design of the 7000 series is smart as a train of the fashionable urban residential areas. The green colored body is totally new since most of the Tokyu trains have red stripes on the stainless steel bodies. The interior of the 7000 series is also attractive. Specifically, the heavily used wood-grain walls offer the passengers peace and comfort.

The oldest model is the 7700 series originally launched in 1962 under the name of the 7000 series. A total of 134 units were built by Tokyu Sharyo. After being operated on the Toyoko and the Denentoshi lines, it was modified in 1987 to become the 7700 series. New electric systems such as variable frequency drive with induction motors and new bogies were equipped on the 7700 series. The interior was renovated and air conditioners were also equipped. A total of 6 sets, 18 units are still operated.

EMU Tokyu 7700 series arrives at Senzokuike Station on the Ikegami Line

Official information about the trains on the Tokyu lines (in Japanese):

Thursday, 22 February 2018

No.1 Foreign Tourists' Attraction in Kyoto City

EMU JR West 221 series stands at Kyoto Station on the Nara Line

The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan has been increasing. According to the Japan National Tourist Organization, the aggregate number of inbound tourists in 2017 totaled 29 million, which was a record-breaking increase by as much as 19 % on a year-to-year basis.

One of the popular areas for foreign sightseers is Kyoto, which is located about 500 km west of Tokyo. Specifically, Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine is the number one foreign tourists' attraction in the city. It is undoubtedly a must-see spot surrounded by a deep forest, but I didn't understand why that place was so popular among foreign tourists, to be honest.

Recently, I found that the "kanji (Chinese letters)" on the "torii gates" in Fushimi-inari-taisha attracts foreigners. According to some websites, foreign tourists admire the black-colored kanji engraved on the vermillion-colored torii gates. It might be cool for them. That's why foreign tourists flock to Fushimi-inari-taisha.

If you plan to visit this popular spot, I recommend you take the JR West Nara Line. It takes only five minutes from Kyoto Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen. The Nara Line was once "the kingdom of the EMU 103 series". Many sets of light green-colored 103 series trains were frequently operated, but it has been gradually replaced by the EMU 221 series. Although the 221 series is comfortable to ride in than that of the 103 series, I am sad that my familiar 103 series is disappearing on the Nara Line.

We cannot go against the current of the time.

Torii gates of Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine near Inari Station on the JR West Nara Line

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Keisei Skyliner AE Series: 25 Million Passengers

EMU Keisei AE series, Skyliner, displays a gold-colored commemoration sticker

Keisei Skyliner is hunky-dory. On November 1st, 2017, Keisei Electric Railway made a press release announcing that the passengers of the third generation Skyliner exceeded 25 million on that day. At the same time, Keisei held a commemoration ceremony at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station. The 25 millionth passenger was a Swiss gentleman. The president of Keisei Electric Railway Company, the deputy mayor of Narita City and the Muto sisters of the idol group AKB48 attended the ceremony.

The third generation Skyliner, namely the EMU AE series, was launched in 2010 to replace the old model, the AE100 series. The AE series reached 10 million passengers on December 19th, 2013. It then achieved 20 million passengers on September 13th, 2016. The period between the 20 millionth and the 25 millionth passengers was only one year and two months. It was the fastest pace so far. In contrast to the Keisei Skyliner, JR East's Narita Express (NEX) has made poor showing recently. I think that the major reason for these contrasting performances was their speed. The AE series connects Nippori in downtown Tokyo and Narita Airport Terminal 2 in only 36 minutes, which is much faster than that of the NEX. Furthermore, Keisei is a big competitor for JR East because the fare of the Skyliner is much less than that of the NEX.

Currently, one set of the AE series, namely set AE5, displays a gold-colored commemoration sticker on the front of the train. It proudly says "thanks, 25 million passengers".

EMU Keisei AE series passes through Higashi-Matsudo Station on the Hokuso Line

Official information about Keisei Skyliner:
Official information about the EMU Keisei AE series: