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News Update

By Anthony Robins

December 2008

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Already testing and due to enter service in 2009 are seven single-car Kiha 122 and six twin-car Kiha 127-0 + Kiha 127-1000s for JR West's Kishin Line which runs north-west from Himeji. They are unpainted with narrow yellow and red stripes at waist level and are similar in appearance to JR West's type 223 EMUs.

On 3rd October the first four N700 based cars for the future Kagoshima-Shin Osaka shinkansen service, due to start in Spring 2011, arrived for testing on JR West at Nakagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, after transport by road from Hakata Port in Fukuoka. Together with four other cars, they are being tested between Hakata and Shin Osaka from late October to March. All eight cars on these sets are motored, with three 2+3 unreserved cars (1 to 3) and five 2+2 reserved cars (4 to 8). Green car seats are limited to 24 in part of car 6.

Based on its prototype sets, JR East's E5 'Hayate' shinkansen sets are to be introduced for operation over the new section Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori from 2010, initially at 300 kms/hr rising to 320 kms/hr two years later. These 8M+2T sets will feature eighteen 'Super Green' seats (2+1 formation) in car 10.

December sees the introduction of Toyohashi's first multi-part low floor tram. Built by Alna, it features three sections and is numbered 1001. *


JR Freight plans to test a hybrid DE10 in 2009. In contrast to the DE10's traditional engine with an output of around 1000 kWs as well as polluting exhaust, a smaller engine of around 250 kWs output will be used, combined with generator and battery array. In the longer term, the plan is to replace the DF500's two large diesel motors by one plus this hybrid system.

Financial Success!

Doing well financially is Kishi station on Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishigawa Line (formerly a Nankai route). The fame of its female cat stationmaster, Tama, has contributed hugely. In the year from January 2007, it is estimated that passengers rose by 55,000, merchandise featuring Tama raised 27 million yen and overall economic impact on the surrounding area reached an amazing 1.1 billion yen. Wakayama Electric Railway has introduced attractive trains featuring 'ichigo' (strawberry) and 'omocha' (toy) themes. *

Preserving the Past!

JR Shikoku's new 'Tetsudo Rekishi (Railway History) Park' located in a stylish modern wooden building at Iyo Saijo Station on its Yosan Line features the company's veteran DF50 1 plus a part of a 0 series shinkansen end car (formerly 21-141).

Next 25th April is due to see the return to service of JR Kyushu's 58654 running from Kumamoto (0940) to Hitoyoshi (1210) and back (1440-1720)*. A three carriage 'retro' set is due to appear in maroon livery, with lounge area in the observation area of the rear carriage as well as buffet. *All times are approximate
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