By Anthony Robins
latest Tokaido Shinkansen type, the N700-A, entered service on 8th
February. At the tape-cutting ceremony at Tokyo
Station, Masaki Seki, the head of the JR Tokai shinkansen operation
division, said that, “We will convey Japan’s cutting-edge technology to
the world,” while around 400 enthusiasts were at Shin-Osaka to see the
first departure. By the end of the 2013 financial
year, 13 sets will be in operation. With the advent of
the N700-A, withdrawal of type 700s started with set C1 being moved to
Hamamatsu Works on 16th January. Six
N700-A sets will be added in each of the next three years (2014-16
financial years) at a cost of 88 billion yen.
From the March timetable change on 16th March,
the first E6 type 'Super Komachi' services from Tokyo to Akita started
with four daily round trips. Time taken is 3 hours 45 minutes,
with an extra 500 yen for the fare. While E5
‘Hayabusa’ services rose to a maximum 320 km/h, it will be 2014 before
E6 operated services follow. In the meantime, the
type is central to a new ‘Japan Red’ travel campaign by JR East.
Isumi Railway in Chiba Prefecture has a new type 350 railcar
built by Niigata Transses, with retro styling reminiscent of JNR’s KiHa
20. Capable of carrying 125 passengers and with a
top speed of 95 km/h, it is in the same livery of yellow with green
stripes as its earlier type non retro type 300 railcar.
Meitetsu’s type 6600, operating on its isolated Seto Line,
and dating from 1978, was commemorated by a 'Sayona Run'
on March 3rd. Before and after its
introduction, passengers climbed as new suburban development took place
in the eastern suburbs of Nagoya. Similarly, Seibu
held a ‘Sayonara’event for types 101 and 301 on 9th
December. Some of the latter have moved to Seibu’s affiliated Ohmi
Railway for a second life.
Tokai’s type 117, now largely restricted to rush-hour workings, bowed
out from service with the 16th March timetable change. From
December, out of use sets were moved from their base at Ogaki to
Hamamatsu, where they currently remain windowless.
use on the third-sector Shinano Railway since 1997, former JNR type 169
sets were retired with a last run on 29th April.
Maya Funicular in Kobe saw its second-generation cars retired at the
end of December, before a three months suspension of service for
refurbishment of the funicular. New cars were due
to enter service at the end of March.
Hankai tramway in the south part of Osaka and neighbouring Sakai
unveiled its first low-floor cars on 14th February, making a
contrast with its historic fleet. The first of
three 3-part sets is in a livery of light brown symbolizing ‘wabi’, the
Japanese idea of simplicity in beauty pursued by local tea master, Sen
no Rikyu, with green around the window areas, to represent the city’s
ancient tomb. Seats and blinds also reflect local
tradition. Although Sakai previously appeared to be
negative about the future of the southern part of the Hankai, in 2010
it decided to provide 5 billion yen in subsidies over a decade to
promote tram use. The city covered two-thirds of
the 250 million yen cost of the new set, with the national government
covering the rest. Testing took place between
Abikomichi and Hamadera-Ekimae from February to June, with full
operation from September.
Based on its type 5100, Hiroshima Electric Railway has two
new three part dark red liveried low-floor trams, 1001 and 1002 which
made their debut in service on routes 7, 8 and 9 (new) on 15th February.
1002 initially appeared in vinyls advertising makers, Kinki
Sharyo, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toyo Denki.
Hakodate’s 8010 is a rebuilt type 800 car and entered
service on 11th January. Just one type 800 car,
812, is now left.
The second type T100 three part set for Toyama Regional
Railways is T102.
of ‘Shuyu Kippu’ zone tickets ended at the end of March. On
sale since 1st April 1988, sales numbered about 130,000 in
2002 but had fallen to 48,000 in 2011. 13 zones were available
including 3 for Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, at 12,500 yen to 20,000
yen (including unreserved limited express), as well as smaller areas
such as Tokyo or Nagasaki and Saga at 4,000 yen. Period
of validity depended on the distance the passenger travelled to/from
The afternoon of 30th January saw heavy disruption to Chuo
Line services west of Tokyo when sheeting covering scaffolding on a
building site in Kokubunji blew on to the line. Services
were disrupted for around five hours.
Snow in the predawn hours of 6th February in the Tokyo area
led to JR East cancelling about 30% of trains on its main commuter
lines in the morning, although rising temperatures meant that most of
the snow turned to sleet. This snowfall followed
another in the area in mid-January.
Removal of a shell fired from a U.S. naval ship during the
Second World War led to a rare daytime planned suspension of Tokaido
shinkansen services, as well as local Tokaido line trains, for about
one hour from 08.30 on Sunday 17th February The 41
cms shell weighing 860 kilograms had been found on 11th October within
the boundaries of JR Tokai’s workshops in Hamamatsu. It
was removed by personnel from the Ground Self-Defence Force and taken
to the coast for detonation. They have dealt with
about 6,000 tons of such munitions since records began in 1958, with
about 38 tons in 2012. This compares to the
approximately 160,000 tons of bombs dropped on Japan during the last
five months of the war.
23rd March saw 10 electronic fare card systems (Hayakaken
(Fukuoka), Icoca (JR West), Kitaca (Hokkaido), Manaca (Meitetsu),
Nimoca (Kyushu), Pasmo, Pitapa (Kansai), Sugoca (Kyushu), Suica, Toica
(JR Tokai)), unified so that they can be used in each other’s territory.
They cover 52 rail and 96 bus operators nationwide and are valid
at 4,275 of the total of around 9,000 stations in Japan. 9 of the 10
are also interchangeably usable at other facilities such as convenience