The Japanese Railway
By Anthony Robins
New Faces Tetsudō Journal/Tetsudō Fan/Rail
Ahead of the extension of the shinkansen from Nagano to Kanazawa in
2015, 19th April saw the new E7/W7 type enter service by
from E2 sets on four services each way between Tōkyō and Nagano.
July 2014 to March 2015 is the inclusion of a ‘Plarail’ car with play
zone and diorama as the first car in the type 500 set operating ‘Kodama
730’ (Hakata-Shin Ōsaka) and ‘Kodama 741’ (Shin Ōsaka-Hakata).
the type’s 20th anniversary, the Nankai Railway operated
from 26th April to 30th June was
a ‘Gundam’ anime influenced red liveried ‘Rapi:t’ set 50502.
Hankyū introduce its latest type 1300 featuring eight cars and lower
energy use. A month later, on 28th April, the
Kita-Ōsaka Kyūkō (North Ōsaka Express) Railway introduced its first
‘Polestar II’ type 9000
set. Unpainted, but with a brown, white and red stripe at waist
level, the set’s formation is M+T+T+ T+M+M+T+T+T+M.
July saw Tōkyō
Monorail’s first new type for 17 years with its type 10000. Featuring 2
driving trailer cars plus 4
intermediate motor cars, capacity is 456
(226 seated). It has been even longer (32 years) since the first new
type on Jōshin Electric Railways in Gunma Prefecture. Its two car
type 7000 EMU is a VVVF type in a cream livery with a brick design
relief. With a capacity of 282 passengers, it was introduced on 17th
Rolled out at
its Iriuda depot on 14th April was 3001, the
first of two new type 3000
cars for the Hakone Tozan. In mainly ‘Vermillion Hakone’ livery, this
Kawasaki Heavy Industries built car can carry 75 (36 seated). 3002 is
expected to join it in August and from November the cars will either be
used together, or with one coupled to two earlier type 2000 cars.
type 8000 started operation from 12th July. Utilising two
end cars and
one intermediate car from Odakyū’s type 20000, the formation is
M+T+M. Livery is white with many cartoon like images of Mount
sightseeing set which started operation at weekends and holidays from
26th May was JR Shikoku’s
‘Iyo Nada Monogatari’. Formed of
remodeled veteran cars KiRo 47 1401 and KiRo 47 1402 in a red and
yellow livery with gold stripes. With many seats giving good window
views, it operates on the Yosan Line between Matsuyama, Iyo Ōzu and
reported in Bullet-in 81, Sanriku Tetsudō restarted all services on 5th
and 6th April. Five
type 36 cars were introduced. Three
feature a standard layout and regular white, blue and red livery, while
36-Z1 in two-tone brown livery features tatami based seating for 48
people. 36-R3 in maroon livery is the first of the type for the
Minami Rias Line, joining two earlier examples on the Kita Rias Line.
It features comfortable retro style Western seating with tables.
Test runs with a type 415 EMU took place on 10th May along an 8.5
kilometre section of the Jōban Line damaged by the 2011 tsunami
between Hirono and Tatsuta, with a target reopening in mid June. North
of Tatsuta, the line will remain closed because of the Fukushima
Yamagata Shinkansen Developments Tetsudō Journal
late April 2014 and 2016, Yamagata Shinkansen type E3s are being
updated to a new livery featuring white with purple, yellow and red,
mainly above window level. From July, a ‘Toreiyu’ E3 set was introduced
with the novelty of hot-springs style footbaths in car 16, as well as
2+1 seating with tables in cars 12, 13 and 14 and Japanese style
seating with a bar counter in car 15. With a capacity of 143, it will
operate 120 days a year between Fukushima and Shinjō. Livery is white
with two shades of green plus a greenish blue.
intends to follow in JR Kyūshū’s ‘Seven Stars’ footsteps, with a luxury
train to enter service in Spring 2017. Still in the design phase, the
plan is for a ten-car train. These will consist of five cars with three
compartments, one given over to a luxury suite, as well as a lounge
car, dining car, and observation cars at each end. Livery is planned to
be green and the menu will be produced by a leading food writer. The
train’s routes are still to be decided.
Gauge-changing Progress Asahi Shimbun/Tetsudō Fan
latest (3rd generation) FGT (Free Gauge Train) was introduced on 19th
April before beginning testing the following day. More stylish than its
predecessors, in a red and gold livery, the four-car set
(FGT-9001-9004) is planned to be run for three years and cover 600,000
kilometres. The aim is to operate it between Hakata (Fukuoka) and
Nagasaki after that, shortening the trip by 28 minutes. The
J.R.T.T. (Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency)
is concerned with this project and no less than 40 billion yen (390.5
million dollars) have been spent on it since 1997.
has five 3-section type 1000 ‘Green Mover Lex’ sets, with the entry
into service of set 1005 on 17th February. With the 1st
change, Hankai in the South of Ōsaka introduced its second type 1001
low-floor car, 1002. It features purple rather than the green relief of
1001 in its livery. 30th March saw Nagasaki
retire its type 2000 car
2001, following the withdrawal of 2002 in 2010.
to attractions at Umekōji is a display of ex Kyōto trams which opened
on 8th March located nearer to Kyōto Station on the other
side of the
San'in Main Line from the steam roundhouse. As well as veteran
(operating) and 29, it also includes cars 505, 703, 890, 935, 1605 and
With closure of the Ōsaka Transportation Museum at Bentenchō on 6th
April, type 7100 locomotive 7105 ‘Yoshitsune’ was moved from there to
Umekōji. After maintenance work, it is due to be on display from
September. Umekōji will close at the end of August 2015 and a new
Kyōto Railway Museum is due to open next to the roundhouse at Umekōji
in Spring 2016.
The Japan Times
regular EMU service was thinned out from the Spring, the Ōigawa
Railway’s three month operation of a Thomas the Tank Engine service
completely sold out. Running on many but not all days of the ‘Kawane
13’ (depart Shin-Kanaya at 1038) and ‘Kawane 14’ (depart Senzu at 1410)
schedules, the service consists of locomotive C11 227 and carriages
repainted in the light brown livery of the stories.
Slightly Less Golden
‘Golden Week’ period, with weekday public holidays on a Tuesday and the
following Monday and Tuesday, 4.417 million passengers used JR East
limited express or shinkansen services, 3% fewer than in 2013.
Kyūshū’s ‘Nanatsuboshi’ (Seven Stars) has seen heavy demand from
domestic passengers, it has been harder to gain passengers from
overseas. Keen to give it an international flavour, JR Kyūshū decided
that two of its fourteen suites would be reserved for international
travelers from April. However, with this quota for the June to August
period, and for 28 suites in the August to November period, it only
received a ratio of 1.5 to 1 applications compared with a ratio of 36.9
to 1 for Japanese passengers. A run starting on 8th April
for international passengers took 4 months to fill and initially, just
one overseas operator (in Hong Kong) has agreed to charter the train.
Groundwork by JR
East began in April to renovate busy Shibuya Station in Tōkyō.
Renovations will improve the situation for transferring passengers,
particularly between the Yamanote and Saikyo Lines. In the future,
Yamanote Line trains in each direction will leave from two faces of the
same platform, with Saikyō Line trains closer than the present 350
metres to the south. Full-scale construction will begin in the 2015
financial year, with a new 46 storey building on the east side by 2020
and lower buildings following on the west side.
Steel has developed 150 metre long rails at its Yawata Works in
Kita-Kyūshū and the capability to transport them over routes with
curves of as low as 180 metres radius. Ranked the world’s longest, the
first batch will be used in the Kanmon Tunnel between Honshū and
Kyūshū. Yawata Works produces 600,000 tons of rails annually
(more than 60% of Japanese production) and around 80% are exported.