The Japanese Railway
By Anthony Robins
East/JR Tokai/Mainichi Shimbun/Yomiuri Shimbun
Unveiled at JR
Tokai's test facility in Tsuru, Yamaguchi, on 22nd
November, was the front car of its Series L0 maglev train. Test
runs begin on the extended 42.8 kilometers test line before the end of
2013, with the cars made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon
Sharyo. The front car is 28 metres long, 2.9 metres wide and 3.1
metres tall and can carry just 24 passengers, while intermediate cars
can carry 68 passengers each. In operation between Tokyo and
Nagoya from 2027, the aim is to have 16 car sets.
A by-product of
the opening of Tobu's 'Tokyo Skytree' is Tobu's 'Sky
Tree Train' formed of two sets (cars 634-11/634-12 and
634-21/22). Rebuilt from
type 6050 cars,
livery is white with relief provided by bubblelike
circles. The interior features cars with 1+2 seating which can be
rotated to face out from the windows, with one featuring a 'salon'
area. The first set (ex cars 6177 and 6178) was delivered in late
September with the help of DE10 1554, EF65 2075 and Tobu's own DeKi 103
in March 2013 were 12 cascaded 4-car type 205 sets to
replace 105s on JR East's Nikko Line (4 sets) and 211s on the Tohoku
Line between Koganei and Kuroiso (8 sets).
revival of C61 20, JR East is currently restoring C58 239
which was plinthed in Morioka to operate on the Kamaishi Line in an
area of Tohoku which was badly damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and
tsunami. It will start operations in December 2013 with a set of
four carriages designed by Ken Okumura, who has also designed the new
E6 Akita Shinkansen bullet train. The carriages are KiHa 141s
(former loco hauled type 50s) displaced by electrification in Sapporo.
The new Tokaido
Shinkansen type N700A (see 'News Update' in 'Bullet-In
76') entered service on 8th February, with inaugural runs being 'Nozomi
203', departing Tokyo at 07.00 for Shin-Osaka, and 'Nozomi 208',
departing Shin-Osaka at the same time for Tokyo. As often,
bouquets and tape-cuts featured.
derailment of its C58 363, the 'Paleo Express' was
electrically hauled during Autumn 2012. On 7th October, there was
super power with five locomotives, DeKi 103 + DeKi 503 + DeKi 502 +
DeKi 501 + DeKi 301.
9th and 10th
October saw test runs of E659 second generation 'Narita
Express' sets over the Uchibo and Sotobo lines in Chiba Prefecture.
140 years of railways in Japan, a JR East 2 nights/3 days
tour used 'Cassiopeia' stock for a return journey from Ueno to Aomori
via Nagaoka and Akita on 12th, with return to Ueno via Morioka
overnight on 13th to 14th October. Red large numbered EF81 95 was
the main locomotive, with assistance on part of the route from EF64
1051. 25th September had also seen the northbound 'Cassiopeia'
diverted via Nagaoka, with haulage to there by EF64 1051 and from there
by EF81 138.
also saw commemoration of 110 years of the Shinonoi Line,
with classic JNR era Takasaki based carriages top and tailed by EF64 37
and EF64 38 between Shiojiri and Akashina via Matsumoto.
For the first
time in 44 years, steam returned to JR East's Ryomo Line
over the 38.8 kms between Takasaki (Gumma) and Kiryu (Tochigi) on 3rd
November, with operation in 'top and tail' mode featuring EF 65 501
leading outbound and C61 20 on the return.
Ofunato Line in Aomori Prefecture saw two refurbished KiHa
100s form a 'Pokemon with you Train' from 22nd December, featuring a
Pokemon fan friendly interior and exterior.
After almost two
years out of service, Sharp-Stewart 12, dating from
1874, returned to service at Meitetsu's Meijimura theme park on 8th
November. A month earlier, on 10th October, C62 2 returned to
operating on the short demonstration service at Umekoji Museum in Kyoto.
Mainichi Shimbun/Chunichi Shimbun
November, a special E5 run from Niigata to Tokyo was operated
to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Joetsu Shinkansen, opened
between Omiya and Niigata on 15th November 1982. The same day
also saw a soon to be withdrawn type 200 operate a commemorative
service between the latter points. As of September 2012, the
Joetsu Shinkansen had carried 850 million passengers.
saw Hiroshima Electric Railway celebrate a hundred years
of operation dating back to its predecessor. Famous for resuming
partial service three days after the 1945 atom bomb, it is now Japan's
biggest tram system both by mileage and passengers. A display of
eighteen types was held on 23rd November, including restored Taisho era
saw a 'Sayonara' run for three yellow and blue liveried
type 1500 railcars (YR1501-1503) of the Yuri Kogen Tetsudo.
9th October saw
Yuichiro Hata, Japan's Minister of Transport, sign a
memorandum of understanding with Thailand to cooperate on railway and
irrigation development. Thailand plans to start a high-speed rail
project in 2013.
The problem of
suicides and their effect on rail operations continues
to be a focus in Japan. Of the 5,278 cases of major train delays
in the 2011-12 financial year, 601 were caused by suicides.
Although that is lower than the peak of 682 in the 2009-10 year, it
continues to be a major issue. On 11th September, a packed JR
East Keihin Tohoku train was brought to a halt as a result of a suicide
and six passengers were taken to hospital as a result of the crowded
conditions after the 50 minutes' halt. Companies' responses (JR
East Yamanote Line, Keikyu and Odakyu) have included blue lights which
are supposed to have a soothing effect, and music. From November
2011, stations on JR East's Sobu Line have featured music which is
supposed to be relaxing to the autonomic nervous system. However,
complaints that the music was actually too loud led it to be replaced
by quieter music by Chopin and Mozart in August 2012. In
addition, from 2011, teams made up of retired JR East employees and
members of the Japanese Association of Mental Health Services have been
patrolling 10 busy stations in the Tokyo area for four hours a day on
weekdays in March and October. This limited project has
apparently led to just one suicide being prevented.
Haneda Airport's role increases, with more international
flights, competition is intensifying between the operators who serve
it, Keihin Kyuko and Tokyo Monorail. Following completion of elevation
works at Kamata Station, Keikyu changed its timetable on 21st October
to make the fastest trip from Shinagawa to Haneda just 15 minutes,
which is at least two minutes shorter than monorail trips from
Hamamatsucho. It also doubled its Yokohama bound trains from
three to six per hour. On the other hand, Tokyo Monorail offers more
frequent services and has been rolling out wi-fi on its rolling stock,
with completion due in March 2014.
gets in the way when concrete is poured in Japan, but
fireflies (hotaru) challenge part of the section of the Hokuriku
Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Tsuruga due to be opened in 2025.
The Nakaikemi wetland in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which is home to
more than 2,000 animal and plant species, was registered under the
Ramsar Convention in July 2012. However, it would be affected by
the planned route running through it, after plans were changed to avoid
demolition of homes and factories on the original route.