1001 the first car of Tokyo Subway

The fully restored 1001, type 1000, the first car of Tokyo Subway. The 1927-built type 1000 was modeled after New York Subway rolling stock in terms of mechanism and performance.

The Tokyo Subway Museum



By Marcel van Dijk

A little off the beaten tourist track, far beyond the eastern shore of the Sumida-gawa (the Sumida River) lies the Tokyo Subway Museum. It is not as well-known as its main competitor, The JR East Railway Museum at Omiya, but more than worth the visit. Completed 1986, it shows the full story of Tokyo subways in fascinating detail.

The museum is located very conveniently and appropriately under the viaduct of the Tokyo Metro (known as 'Eidan' until 2004) Subway Tozai-sen (the East-west Line), just 100 metres east of Kasai station. I visited the museum in 1992, going by subway of course, but not aware of the fact that the eastern end of the Tozai-sen has kaisoku rapid-service trains that bypass Kasai station! Happily I could get off at the next rapid-service stop and backtrack without having to pay an additional fare.

The entrance of the museum is done in 'subway-station-style', complete with automatic ticket gates, to bring the visitors in the right mood. Once in, the museum starts with an exhibition on the relationship between the city and the subway over the years, with a good deal of clear explanation. The old Ueno station of Tokyo's first subway has been rebuild more or less faithfully, with displays of items of this very first line from Ueno to Asakusa (forming part of today's Ginza-sen) opned in 1927.

Next comes a series of more technical exhibitions. The first is on constructing subway tunnels. Due to the fact that Tokyo lies in a diluvial plain and certainly complicated by the fact that this is an earthquake-prone zone, tunnelling is a work that needs to be planned and done very carefully. Also, the spaghetti-style track work through the centre of the metropolis and the complicated transfer stations make addition of new lines more and more complex. The results are extremely high costs of new lines, only justified if the expected ridership is also extremely high. However, that is no problem, as we all know! Attention is also given to the safety of the subway once built, with anti-flooding devices, and explanations on the traffic- and power control centres and the indispensable disaster prevention centre.

A 100-series car (#129) is displayed next, in a section covering the constructing and working of subway cars. You can enter the cab and work some of the controls (motors, brakes and pantograph). Current collection by pantograph as well as by third rail and working of electric motors and brakes in a bogie are shown with real scale examples.

And last but certainly not least, there is the 'subway playroom' with three simulators of different subway stock. Normally you can try one of them under supervision of museum staff (whom I wonder are volunteering regular Eidan employees with instructing experience?). The simulators have been used for staff training previously and are a real joy to work on, but it is certainly no sinecure. It is hard work to move a fully loaded Tozai-sen train to its tight schedule and to stop within centimetres of the mark at stations.

The museum has among its facilities a lecture-hall, used for lectures and showing films, a rest lounge, a library with a good collection of literature to browse in and a shop with ample supply for the interested, which in itself is worth the journey, I think.

The museum's address is Tokyo Subway Museum, 6-3-1-Higashi Kasai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo 134. Opening times are standard museum opening times, so closed Mondays. Entry was 200 (210 as of 2016). It is easily reached by the Tozai-sen of the subway, Kasai station, but be aware of those kaisoku!

A final note: It seems to be not generally known that besides railway stations also some Tokyo subway stations have a 'commemorative stamp'. On my last trip, some 30 could be sampled. Some on expected tourist locations like Ginza or Asakusa, some on quite unexpected stations. A nice addition to your collection!

An advertisement picture of the opening the Tokyo Subway

An advertisement picture telling the opening of the Toyko Subway. The catch phrase reads "The only subway in the Orient between Ueno and Asakusa."

The front face of the 1001

The 1001 is fully steel made in consideration of anti-fire. There are many safety-oriented features incorporated, hence the first subway car. One of those thing is anti-climber that stands out at he car end.

A side view of the 1001

A side view of the 1001, looking at the museum exhibition room. The car uses a equalizer system bogie (truck), which was copied after Baldwin's. The riveted body well retains the ambiance of an old electric subway car.

A cut model of #129

A cut model of 1938-built #129 provides comprehensive explanations about the structure of an electric car's power system in cooperation with motors and brakes on a bogie (truck) in real scale examples located in front of the car.

Interior of #129

The interior of #129. The cab is a half-room compartment type. The interior is made of almost incombustible materials.

The control of #129

A view of the control inside the cab of #129. A combination of a master controller and an automatic brake handle along with air-pressure gauges in fron is a typical setting in a cab in those days.

Kyosan-made train stop arm placed in front of #1001

A Kyosan-made pneumatic operated automatic train stop arm exhibited in front of #1001. Tokyo Subway was originally equipped with an Automatic Train Stop system with this device. The technology was also copied after New York Subway.

Train simulator

A train simulator gives you a virtual train driving experience in a realistic cab environment.

Three simple train simulators

There are more three train simulators available with different types of subway stock. The museum employees assist you in operating your mock train.

Tokyo Metro Museum Website Current information about the museum, opening times and admission charges (Japanese).


Photos and their captions are all by Hiroshi Naito. Article updated 01 June 2016 by Anthony Leith.




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