September 2001 JRS Japan Members' Excursion
to Four Doomed Meitetsu Lines

Page 2

By Hiroshi Naito
To the Yaotsu Line:
The next morning, we were on the same route as previous day to Inuyama by an express train sitting in longitude style seats. We were visiting the Yaotsu Line and Takehana Line which were due to close. When we changed trains at Inuyama, most members shouted for joy. Awaiting us on the other side of the platform was 1937-built type 3400 in its two-tone colour livery of dark and light green. Its half-streamlined car style gave us a quite modern impression along with the interior arranged with cross seats. We even got to know that this vintage set was air-conditioned. Our journey on this charming train was up to Shin-Kani, a ride of about 20 minute through typical half-suburban scenery with groups of houses surrounded by farm fields of rice and vegetables. The weather was superb that day with a clear blue sky. Greenery on low hills and mountains near our route was comfortable for our eyes. Shin-Kani station was unexpectedly a switchback terminal, giving us an impression of a pretty complex railway junction. We knew that the neighboring track was of the JR Okata Line, when a two-car light diesel railcar came by.
Type 3400, a 1937-built semi-streamlined EMU

Type 3400 is a 1937-built semi-streamlined EMU, at Shin-Kani station.

Interior of type 3400

The interior of type 3400 with neatly arranged cross seats. JRS members are enjoying a ride.

JR Central's two-car light diesel railcar

JR Central's two-car light diesel railcar came by along the neighboring track. On the right is the Akechi LIne's diesel railcar taking a rest in the shed, at Shin-Kani.

Soon, we departed Shin-Kani for Akechi, the junction to Yaotsu, which was one of our that day's destinations. After a five minute ride, we arrived at Akechi and changed to the Yaotsu Line's single unit diesel railcar. The Yaotsu Line, 9.1 km in length, was originally electrified, but in 1982, it was switched to railbus operation to cut back on operation costs. Our diesel railcar was type 30, quite similar to those common among most third-sector railways all over Japan. Like the day before, the car was crowded with railway enthusiasts who came to have their last ride. The railcar proceeded rumbling along jointed rails on a poor weed grown single track. The surrounding scenery now turned rustic enough, and our car ran along a gently ascending route through a bit mountainous landscape. Although catenary was taken away on dieselization, steel-made catenary pillars were still standing along the track. Yaotsu was a stub end surrounded with woods and traditional tile-roofed houses in a rustic village, which gave me the feeling of good old Japanese countryside. It was a photography time for us, targeting the diesel railcar going away and coming up 30 minutes later.

Yaotsu Line's diesel railcar standing at Yaotsu

Yaotsu Line's diesel railcar standing at Yaotsu station under a blue sky.

Weed grown Yaotsu Line track in a rustic scenery

Weed grown Yaotsu Line track in rustic scenery. Although the catenary was taken away, steel made catenary pillars still stand along the track.

Type 7000 Panorama Car at Shin-Unuma

Type 7000 Panorama Car at Shin-Unuma. Having a control cab above the passenger cabin, passenegers can enjoy a panoramic view ahead from the front car. Taken from the front-most seat on type 7000 in the opposite direction.

Type 7000 Panorama Car:
After visiting the Yaotsu Line, we came back to Inuyama taking the same route as on our way. At Inuyama, we caught an express of type 7000 Panorama Car for Shin-Gifu along the Kagamihara Line again. Having a control cab above the passenger cabin at both ends, this type provides observation space to passengers for the front view. Nowadays, this type of a feature is pretty common on several routes on both JR and private railways, but most of them are in express or limited express service requiring a surcharge. However, on Meitetsu with this type you can comfortably enjoy a panoramic view ahead free of additional charge. Being first introduced in 1966, the type 7000 took the initiative of this service feature in Japan. However, due to their age, it is inebitable that they are disappearing in the near future. Thinking that it was a good chance to experience a front view from this type, I went to the front-most car. Some members followed me and took a good position for the panoramic view. Feeling quicker than the same trip yesterday, we arrived in Shin-Gifu, where we took the Nagoya Main Line on the elevated track to go to our next destination.

To Takehana Line:
After a ride of about several minutes on a local, we got to Kasamatsu, the junction for the Takehana Line, our last destination. The Takehana Line was completed in 1929 by the Takehana Railway and became part of Meitetsu with a wartime mandated merger in 1943. The line runs down southwards in a triangle area sandwiched by the Nagara River and Kiso River up to Osu near the junction where both rivers converge. The 8.4 km long southern-most leg of the line between Egira and Osu is closing in this month (September). Our train was a local for Osu. The line was on single track all the way. Some members stood behind the cab to catch the front view. It is the best way to take this position to grasp feeling of a route and its circumstances. Along the line was rather suburban as far as Egira. Egira is the Takehana Line's secondary junction where a short branch line, about 1.2 km in length, diverges to reach the Tokaido Shinkansen's Gifu-Hajima station. I was impressed with the simple structure of the diverging point that was composed of a single turnout installed on the single track.

Just after leaving Egira, going below the Tokaido Shinkansen's embankment, we entered the closing segment of the line. Now, the ambience grew more rustic, and we got a desolate feeling whenever we stopped at an unattended intermediate station. Passenger exchanges were only a few at each station. Houses seen alongside were traditional tile-roofed, and matching the surrounding rice fields, they were producing the feeling of Japan's typical rural scenery. After an about 30 minutes journey from Kasamatsu, we finally arrived at Osu. Osu was a simple stub end terminus in a quiet town located near the bank of the Nagara River. On the platform and alongside of the track outside the station were a number of railway enthusiasts photographing the last operations of the line.

Takehana Line scenery ahead right-of-way

Along the Takehana Line was a Japan's typical rural scenery with traditional tile-roofed houses, matching the surrounding rice fields.

The branch to the Shinkansen Gifu-Hajima station

The branch to the Shinkansen Gifu-Hajima station was by simple structure with a single turnout installed on the single track.

Osu station of the Takehana Line

Osu station was a stub end in a quite town located near the bank of the Nagara River.

Approaching Shin-Nagoya on the Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line entering the underground section

Approaching Shin-Nagoya on Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line entering the underground section. The skyscraper ahead is JR Central's newly completed station building.

Thus, we finished our activities, having been satisfied with train rides on Meitetsu's countryside lines. We got back to Kasamatsu sitting in longitude style seats on a local train. At Kasamatsu, we took an express of type 7000 again towards Shin-Nagoya. Sitting comfortably in the front-most seat in the Panorama Car, I enjoyed the running along Mitetsu's busy main line at a maximum speed of 120 km/h.

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All photos in this page were taken by the author in September 2001.

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