By Anthony Robins
from 'Bullet-in' #52 October -
Electrification of JR West's Kakogawa Line sees modified type 103, classified as 103-3550. There are eight two car sets (Kumoha 103-3550 plus Kumoha 102-3550) in turquoise livery. Black window surrounds give a modern appearance and windows are totally sealed in common with other types modernized recently
by JR West.
Tobu's new 10 car (5M+5T) is type 50000. Capacity is 139 (end cars) and 153 (intermediate cars) with a top speed of 120 kms/hr. Livery is unpainted plus orange relief (below cab windows and between side windows).
First new type on the Shonan Monorail for sixteen years took the form of 3-car type (Mc1+M2 + Mc2) 5000 set from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It entered
service on 29th May and joined one type 400 3-car set from 1980 and six type 550 sets from 1988 and 1989. Top speed is 75 kms/hr.
JR Tokai is boosting its inspection units to two with the introduction of a new 3-car set at a cost of 1.1 billion yen. The existing Kiya 95 introduced in March
1997 and known as 'Doctor Tokai' will also be renewed at a cost of 700 million yen.
JR Timetable/Tetsudo Journal/Yomiuri Shimbun
Timetable changes from 16th October included an expansion of the 'Shonan Shinjuku Line' services, the through services between Utsunomiya and Zushi, and
between Maebashi and Odawara. Following approximate doubling, there are now 32 return services daily. The Tokyo area covered by the Suica IC card was expanded in five places, from Atami to Ito, Ootsuki to Nirasaki, Shin-Maebashi to Shibukawa, Utsunomiya to Kuroiso, and Katsuta to Hitachi.
25th October was the 70th anniversary of the Takayama Main Line in Central Japan. At weekends and holidays during October a DD51 hauled a 'torokko' set usually used on the Iida Line on two return workings between the sightseeing centres of Takayama and Hida-Furukawa, a journey of 16.4 kilometres taking around half an hour.
March 2005 sees an increase to eight 'Nozomis' on the Tokaido Shinkansen enabled by this year's additional six 16-car C-series 700 sets, making a total of 960
cars (sixty 16-car sets).
The first new station on the Sanyo Electric Railway for 46 years is Nishi-Futami, 1.3 kms west of Higashi-Futami, on its main line between Kobe and Himeji. It opened on 21st August, just under a month before a supermarket opened in front of the station. Target use is 3,500 passengers a day.
Osaka Soto Kanjo Railway, a 3rd-sector company which will eventually operate services over the twenty kilometres between Shin-Osaka and Kyuhoji using JR
Freight's Joto Line plans to open the first nine kilometres, between Hanaten in Tsurumi Ward, Osaka, and Kyuhoji soon after Spring 2008.
'Railway Day' Commemorations
JR offered a ticket, valid for one person for three days or three people for one day, for use between 2nd and 15th October. Priced at 9,180 yen, it allowed
travel on ordinary and rapid services. Facilities with special opening included JR Shikoku's Tadotsu Workshops (9th October) and JR Tokai's Sakuma Railpark
(31st October). Special services included a 'Natsukashii (nostalgic) Daisen' revival of the locomotive hauled sleeper service between Osaka and Izumo-shi (overnight 9th-10th October) and return (overnight 10th-11th October). As new stock has taken over all services, an all reserved commemorative working by types 113 and 117 took place on 10th October between Kusatsu, Osaka and Himeji.
Closures Confirmed and Pending
Chunichi Shimbun/Tetsudo Journal
Nankai Electric Railways plans to close its Kishigawa Line in September 2005. Opened as a light railway in 1916 and absorbed into Nankai in 1961, it reached peak passenger numbers in 1974 with 3.61 million passengers. Passenger numbers were down to 1.98 million in 2003 with financial losses reaching 7 billion yen over a ten year period.
29th January 2005 sees the closure of two Meitetsu stations. Higashi Kasamatsu (Nagoya Main Line) dates from 1935 but saw an average of just 109 passengers in
2003. Gakko-Mae (Hiromi Line) opened in 1928 but saw just 128 passengers daily in 2003.
The Kurihara Denen Tetsudo is to close in March 2007. Operating between Ishikoshi (Tohoku Line) and Kurihara Mine Park Mae, it has faced declining local subsidies.
Chugoku Shimbun/Tetsudo Fan/Yomiuri Shimbun
Two days before the 59th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima saw Hiroshima Institute for Peace Education rent two of the trams surviving from that time to carry passengers who had the opportunity to listen to survivors' experiences. Earlier, on 6th June the city's 9th 'Romendensha Matsuri' (tram festival) took place, with trams including 238 (ex-Hanover) and retro type 101 on show. Ex-Dortmund 76 made a rare recent appearance in operation.
On 'Romendensha no Hi' (Tram Day) on 10th June, Nagasaki also had its retro car out, in the form of 168. It could be seen contrasting heavily with the
new LRV 3000 type.
Withdrawn Hankai tram 175 (green livery with white stripe) was moved to its new resting place, Public Plaza Marugame, a shopping mall in Kagawa Prefecture
near the Seto Bridge in May. In a similar move, former Kure tram 1001, built in 1959, returned to its home city to be displayed at Kure Port Pier Park from August after being withdrawn from service with Iyo Tetsudo (Matsuyama) in March.
The Japan Times/Tetsudo Journal
JR Shikoku's type 5100, the double-decker cars now used on 'Marine Liner' services between Okayama and Takamatsu across the Seto Bridge, won the 2004 'Blue Ribbon' award from the Japan Railfan Club and its 4,000 members.
The 'Resort Shiranami' service, operating on the Gono Line in Akita and Aomori and used on the Summer 2002 JRS tour, clocked up 300,000 passengers on 27th May. After being introduced on 1st April 1997, the first 100,000 were reached on 29th July 1999 and 200,000 on 12th July 2002.
12th August, during the 'O-Bon holiday season', saw 326 bullet train runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, the most for a single day since services were launched
Further Noto cutback
Tetsudo Fan/Tetsudo Journal
Following the closure of its line from Anamizu to Wajima in March 2001, after application to the Ministry of Transport, the 61 kms route between Anamizu and Takojima is due to be closed at the end of March 2005. This route only has a service with a frequency of around one train every two hours and originally opened between 1959 and 1964. Closure will leave Noto Tetsudo with just 28 kms of route from Wakura Onsen (JR West) to Anamizu. Ahead of this, a special revived express was operated on 31st July and 1st, 7th and 8th August. It consisted of a two-car formation, Kanazawa based kiha 58 596 and kiha 28 2119, in JNR livery, running between Kanazawa and Suzu as the 'Notoji' kyuko.
In competition since they started to serve Kansai International Airport, JR West (Hanwa Line) and Nankai (Nankai Main Line) are moving towards cooperation with declining numbers. Both companies' daily passengers were down to below 20,000 in the 2002 financial year, compared with more than 25,000 each in 1995, partly as a result of a shift of domestic flights back to Itami Airport. The companies have joined together to sell a set of four tickets priced at 570 yen showing photos of JR West's 'Haruka' and Nankai's 'Rapi:t'.
The JR Omiya Tetsudo Fureai Fair (open day) on 29th May saw a variety of stock on display. Historic types included ED17 1 and steam loco C58 363. EF 65 59 sported contrasting cream and yellow cab ends (below window level). The ne@ train (hybrid type Kiya E991) was also on show.
The 100th anniversary of the opening of Niigata Station and the completion of the Shinetsu Main Line was celebrated with a run by EF64 1001 plus five
veteran carriages on 2nd May and by a combination of EF 58 61 and EF64 1001 plus the same carriages on 3rd of May.
Keeping up to date
On 13th August one 'Olympic Train' began running on each of the Yamanote, Ginza and Marunouchi Lines in Tokyo. The trains were adorned with a total of 300
full-colour B3 sized posters using photographs and articles from the 'Yomiuri' newspaper dangling above passengers' heads. The posters were also on display
at 21 major stations in Tokyo and B4 editions were handed out to passengers.
Shin-Tsurumi based JR Freight EF65 1001 was in demand operating delivery runs this Spring. 17th to 19th April saw it pulling Hitachi built Tsukuba Express
types TX 1000 and TX 2000 while 10th June saw it en route with E231 double-deck cars. In between it returned a Seibu type 6000 set involved in a level-crossing collision to for repairs.
Weather induced disruption
NHK/Chunichi Shimbun/Mainichi Shimbun/Yomiuri Shimbun
Typhoon 6 (Typhoon Dianmu) caused major rail disruption as it moved across Shikoku and the Kansai region on 21st June. Among services disrupted were limited express services on Keihan and Kintetsu which were suspended. The Seto Ohashi Bridge and access routes to Kansai International Airport were also closed. While the Sanyo Shinkansen fared well, the Tokaido Shinkansen faced major disruption. After delays caused by sections between Kyoto and Gifu Hashima and Mikawa Anjo and Toyohashi being closed around lunchtime, a section of roof 50 metres by 10 metres from a nearby love hotel landed on wires
between Kyoto and Maibara at Ohmi Hachiman. On this section services were stopped for no less than 7 hours, with 14 trains trapped in this section. Altogether 112,000 Tokaido Shinkansen passengers were inconvenienced.
Just nine days later more disruption occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line with heavy rain in Shizuoka. In one hour to 0900, no less than 81.5 mm of rain was
recorded in Shizuoka City. A lightning strike at around 0730 had caused a 20 minute halt to services between Odawara and Shin Fuji. This was followed by
heavy rain halting many services soon after 0800 and leading to disruption for much of the day. Tokaido Line services between Atami and Kakegawa were also
stopped for more than four hours before resuming just before 1300.
Mid July saw heavy rain first in Niigata Prefecture and then in Fukui Prefecture. The latter led to a 116 metre long iron bridge over the Asuwa River on the
Etsumihoku Line collapsing on 18th July necessitating replacement buses.
Strong winds from Typhoon 11 on 5th August caused scaffolding on a hotel to collapse near to the Kobe Electric Railway. Services were suspended for three
and a half hours, inconveniencing about 17,000 passengers. Services were also suspended due to the typhoon on JR West's Kansai Line and Kintetsu's Iga
Typhoon 16 or Chaba meaning 'hibiscus' was one of the later of many typhoons during 2004. It caused delays on JR East's Keiyo Line and Sanyo Shinkansen services experienced delays between 1630 and 2100 on 30th August, with westbound services turned back at Shin-Osaka.
Big City Incidents
The Japan Times/Yomiuri Shimbun
Morning rush-hour passengers at Shibuya Station (Hanzomon Line) on 23rd June were shocked by the shooting of a 32-year old station employee in the
abdomen. A man in his fifties apparently hoped to steal a bag which he thought contained takings. However, the bag in fact contained his personal
belongings. Subway operations were not disrupted but it was described as probably the first time that a subway employee had been shot.
Just a day later, a station employee and passenger were injured when they tried to stop a five member gang armed with pepper spray and knives who were
robbing an elderly woman at Denenchofu, a wealthy district on the Tokyu Toyoko Line. The incident occurred at 1215 and one gang member who was caught
turned out to be a Korean man who had been deported in 1991 for a similar incident at Ginza Station.
After a door on a typically crowded 11-car Yamanote Line opened suddenly after departure from Ueno during the morning rush-hour on 29th June, the train was
taken out of service and 15 other trains were delayed, affecting about 48,000 passengers.
Signal cabling was deliberately severed in five places between Kyuhoji and Kami on JR West's Kansai Line in Osaka Prefecture early on 1st August. Replacing the cable took three hours and 86 trains were cancelled, affecting about 15,000 passengers.
On 8th August twenty fire engines attended after an electrical fire in a tunnel on the Marunouchi Line near to Akasaka-Mitsuke Station. About 400 passengers
were evacuated, with two suffering light injuries. Services on both the Marunouchi and Ginza Lines were disrupted for up to 50 minutes with about 18,000
As before in Hokkaido and Wakayama, the Morioka area of JR East is using lion excrement to deter animals intruding on lines in Iwate Prefecture. Deer and raccoons were among animals which led to the area having 84 accidents in the 2002 financial year and 130 in the following year. However, a test using lion
dung from Morioka Zoo on a two kilometres section of the Kamaishi Line between December and March saw no accidents occurring. Now, Iwate University is
involved to try and isolate the chemicals which deter the animals to create a repellant more amenable to local residents.