The Japanese Railway
By Anthony Robins
New and Revised Faces Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal
between 2016 and 2019, Tōkyō Metro’s type 13000 (Hibiya Line) and
Tōbu’s type 7000 (Isezaki Line) will ease joint operation compared with
the current types (03 and 20000 respectively) by standardizing on four
doors per side 20 metre cars in a 7 car unit (compared with 8 car 18
metre cars with three or five doors per side). Slightly deeper seats
and more powerful air-conditioning will also be featured.
Spring 2016 is due to see Seibu Railways’ ‘Kanko Ressha’ (Sightseeing
Train) enter service. A reworking of a type 4000, it will feature four
cars, including two dining cars (cars 2 and 4 with 26 seats each) and
open kitchen (car 3). Due to operate on about 100 days a year and
available for hire, it is due to run between Ikebukuro or
Seibu-Shinjuku and Seibu-Chichibu as well as Seibu Shinjuku and
July saw delivery and testing begin for JR East’s new type E353 for Shinjuku-Matsumoto services
August saw the final JR Tōkai N700 set upgraded to N700A (small A), a
programme which began in April 2013. In JR Tōkai’s fleet N700As now
number 105 sets as opposed to just 26 type 700s.
Back in Time Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal/The Japan Times
Kyūshū’s ‘Aru Ressha’ launched on 8th August features ‘bling’
with a gold and black exterior plus luxurious interior where passengers
are served a sweets (dessert) course. Expensive at a minimum one-way of
20,000 yen, it consists of two cars (KiRoShi 47 9176 and KiRoShi
47 3505) with just 38 seats and travels between Ōita and Hita
(August-October) and Sasebo and Nagasaki (November-March) once per day
(round trip). The illustrious creators of this train are Eiji Mitooka,
whose other designs include JR Kyushu’s ‘Seven Stars’ and Yoshiko
Narisawa, a famous Tōkyō restaurant owner. Mitooka actually based the
train on a model by the late Nobutaro Haro, creator of the Hara Model
Railway Museum in Yokohama. This in turn was inspired by a U.S. built
train from 1908 which had been ordered by the then Kyūshū Railway but
which did not go into service because of nationalization.
To commemorate 130 years of Nankai and the end of type 7000 operation,
unit 7037 of the latter type and type 10000 unit 10004 are back in
classic two tone green liveries until September 2015 (7037) and
September 2016 (10004) including for operation on Nankai’s ‘Southern’
(Ōsaka Namba – Wakayama)
Chiba Prefecture’s Isumi Railway saw new build KiHa 20 1303 delivered
in June. Heavily based on the classic JNR type, it is newly built by
Competition Nikkei Asian Review
opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Nagano and Kanazawa on 14th
March saw airlines facing severe competition but increased travel to
key attractions. In April, 686,000 passengers rode between Jōetsumyōkō
and Itoigawa (used as a measure of ridership on the whole line). This
was a jump of 220% from a year earlier on non-shinkansen services. 1st
to 18th May (including Golden Week) saw ridership at 531,000, 230%
compared with the previous year. Visitors to the famous Kenrokuen
garden were up 24% between 14th March and 31st May, while the
‘Kagaya’ ryokan saw 20% more visitors. However, ANA saw a fall of 30%
and JAL a fall of 43% in passengers on their Tōkyō (Haneda) – Komatsu
routes in May. ANA plans to retain its current schedule until the end
of October and JAL will keep its schedule until the end of March.
Testing Times Tetsudō Fan
unit, the new type for JR East’s Yamanote Line, saw a test run on the
Chūō Line on 2nd June, operating from Toyoda to Ōtsuki, then back
as far as Hino, before returning to Toyoda.
Globalization Nikkei Asian Review
well as involvement in South and Southeast Asia through a feasibility
study for a high-speed rail line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in India,
rolling stock and maintenance supplies for Bangkok’s Purple Line in
Thailand, and supplying former Saikyo and Yokohama Line trains to
Indonesia with maintenance support, JR East plans to add more
foreigners to its staff as part of its ‘open innovation’ policy. The
company is hiring students from China and countries in Southeast Asia
and plans to expand its internship program for foreign students which
was launched in 2014.
Payback Time Mainichi Shimbun
September the Tōkyō Supreme Court upheld a Tōkyō High Court ruling to
pay 4.6 billion yen in compensation to shareholders and institutional
investors who claimed losses from false financial reporting by Seibu
Railway which led to it being delisted from the Tōkyō Stock Exchange in
Hiroshima Matters Mainichi Shimbun/Hiroshima Dentetsu
Recently renovated, Hiroshima Dentetsu’s 653 (Hibaku densha =
A-bombed train) has been the location for those who experienced the
events of 6th August 1945, to talk about them to current
schoolchildren, as was the case on 4th August when Pak Nam-ju
related her experiences. 653 also operated at weekends and holidays
between 13th June and 30th August in a joint promotion
between the tram operator and Chūgoku Broadcasting. Twice daily
operation was by postcard application with a 500 yen fare.
Withdrawn cars 772 (ex Ōsaka City) and three part sets 3005 and 3006
(ex Nishitetsu) are bound for Myanmar in the footsteps of earlier
exports of Japanese trains.
Back in Steam Tōbu Railway/Kiyoshi Jinno/Gifu Shimbun/Asahi Shimbun
aims to see steam again in 2017 with a plan to use JR Hokkaidō’s C11
207 on the 12.4 kms stretch between Shimo Imaichi and Kinugawa Onsen.
This will be the first steam on Tōbu since 1966.
3rd-sector Ena Railway in Gifu Prefecture saw a small step towards
steam when C12 244 operated using an air compressor at 7 kms/hr for 120
metres each way at Akechi station on 9th August. Around 3,000
spectators were in attendance. The railway aims for steam operation
Time to say Goodbye Asahi Shimbun/Mainichi Shimbun/RM News
end of regular operation of the ‘Hokutosei’ (Tōkyō - Sapporo) in March,
even seasonal operation ended on 23rd August, with its arrival at
Ueno at 09:25, to cheers from around 2,500 railfans and other
spectators. On 2nd September ‘Hokutosei’ stock was moved behind EF64
1052 from Oku (Tōkyō) to Nagano rolling stock centre.
‘Hikyoeki’ or remote stations are a feature of Japan, including
particularly on JR Tokai’s Iida Line. One such station, Koboro in
Toyoura in Hokkaido on the Muroran Line closes this autumn. This has
meant an influx of railfans to this station between Oshamambe and
Hisashi-Muroran which opened as a ‘shingojo’ (signal location) in 1943.
Succession Mainichi Shimbun
death of famed stationmaster cat Tama at the age of sixteen, on
11th August the Wakayama Electric Railway appointed former second
in command, Nitama, a five-year old, as stationmaster at Kishi station.
Wearing a stationmaster’s cap as she was held by the railway’s
president, Nitama apparently offered prayers to a new shrine to Tama
and reported her promotion to Tama’s soul. A visiting office worker
described her as, “looking more dignified than when I saw her a few
years ago, and she seems to have got more used to her job.”
Comeback Mainichi Shimbun
20th August saw
JR East begin trial decontamination work on a section of the Jōban Line
affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster between Yonomori and Futaba.
Workers in protective gear removed rails and sleepers in a 50 metre
section where radiation levels were from 2.8 to 28 microsieverts per
hour. This is an area where inhabitants remain evacuated. JR East aims
to restart services in the sequence: Odaka- Haranomachi (Spring 2016),
Namie-Odaka (March 2017), Sōma-Hamayoshida (Spring 2017) and
Tatsuta-Tomioka (March 2018).