The Japanese Railway Society
By Anthony Robins
Faces Asahi Shimbun/response.jp/JR East/Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal/The Japan Times/Mainichi Shimbun The first of Keio’s new type 5000 debuted on 29th
September. The 10 car type (Tc+M+M+T+M+M+T+M+M+Tc) is unpainted
stainless steel with pink relief (above window level) and blue relief
(below window level). As with some other recent types, seating can
be reconfigured for busier or more relaxed times.
As reported in
‘News Update’ in issue 90 of ‘Bullet-In’, 2020 sees the debut of the
next generation Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen type, the N700S (‘S’ for
‘Supreme’). Nose appearance is more angular than the N700A,
to reduce wind resistance. The type will feature LED headlights
which will be 20% larger than existing ones. All seats will have power
outlets at the front of armrests and their reclining mechanism is
designed so that the back rest and seat move in tandem.
East is replacing aging KiHa 40s, beloved by chairman, Peter Dibben
(see last issue), on its 64.9 km Hachinohe Line with type E130-500
cars, comprising 6 single and 6 two car units from August. Another
type, the GV-E400 will begin testing in 2018, with single and two
car versions numbering 63 cars starting operation in the Niigata area
in the 2019 financial year and in the Akita area in the following
financial year. The GV-E400 features diesel engines driving
Similarly, JR Hokkaidō will introduce its first
two H100 diesel railcars from February 2018 to replace aging KiHa 40s.
The unpainted H100 will have a capacity of 99, but only 36 seated,
compared with the KiHa 40s 103, of which 48 can be seated. Top
speed will be slightly faster at 100 km/hr, compared with 95km/hr for
the KiHa 40. Green, white and yellow vinyls below window level will
provide some colour.
In contrast to the recent
introduction of upmarket cruise trains, such as its own ‘Twilight
Express Mizukaze’, JR West has shown images of a long-distance
overnight train with an aim of introducing it by summer 2020.
The six-car formation would feature a mixture of layout, with
green cars at either end (one featuring 2+1 seating and the other
featuring compartments), two standard cars (respectively, 2+2 seating
and compartments), one ‘freespace’ car, and one with ‘nobi nobi’+ flat seats. + a term meaning ‘relaxed’ also used on the ‘Sunrise Express’.
After a tapecutting ceremony at Yokohama Station on 21st
July, Izukyu’s ‘Royal Express’ left for its first run to Shimoda on the
Izu Peninsula. The 8-car set, which has been remodeled from a type 2100
‘Alpha Resort 21’ set by Eiji Mitooka, features a gold lined blue
livery and includes a dining car, a multipurpose car for wedding
ceremonies or exhibitions, and a car for children. Maximum capacity is
about 100 passengers. It will run to cater for various travel
packages, with the most expensive being 200,000 yen including a
night at a hot springs resort. Testing of the set on the JR East part
of its route had started on 7th July.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of JR West and the 40th
anniversary of Wakayama Adventure World is a ‘Panda Kuroshio Smile
Adventure Train’ operating on certain ‘Kuroshio’ limited expresses
between Kyōto and Shingū from 5th August 2017 until November 2019. In
recognition of the five giant pandas at Wakayama Adventure World, one
6-car type 287 set has a panda face on the front of the train, images
of pandas and other animals on doors, and panda headrest covers on
seats. As the set runs a varied diagram, passengers cannot specifically
book seats on the train. However, the first day’s operation was
advertised as ‘Kuroshio 95’, departing from Tennoji in Ōsaka at
08:49, after a ceremony. Among those attending that was Yoshinobu
Nisaka, Governor of Wakayama, who said, “I’m about to board the train
and I’m excited.” The train arrived at Shirahama at 11:08,
followed by a ceremony there.
Prototype response.jp/Jiro Kakihara/The Japan Times Following
on from previous prototypes, such as the type 952/953 ‘Star 21’
(1992-8) and type E954 ‘Fastech 360S’, JR East’s ‘ALFA-X’ (Advanced
Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation) is due to appear
in Spring 2019, as a testbed for 360 km/h operation, but with
testing up to 400 km/h. Consiting of a 10-car set, the end cars will be
of two types, with one sporting a longer nose than the E5 and the other
with the same length but a different shape. The set will influence
the next-generation production type, which is aimed to be introduced in
2030, the same time as the Hokkaidō Shinkansen is due to be completed
to reach Sapporo.
Freight Results Tetsudō Journal
results for the 2017 financial year show 30,930,000 tonnes of freight
carried by JR Freight, up 160,000 tonnes from the previous year, with
wagonload traffic up slightly at 8,940,000 tonnes and container
traffic down slightly at 21,990,000 tonnes. However, container
traffic still represented 19.6 billion out of 20.9 billion tonne-kms
and 109.2 billion yen out of 118.7 billion yen in terms of
earnings. (billion = 9 zeros).
1st July saw the 25th
anniversary of the Yamagata Shinkansen with commemorations including
the first operation of the ‘Toreiyu Tsubasa’ (E3-700 set with
footbaths) to Tōkyō Station, rather than its usual runs
between Fukushima and Shinjō.
To commemorate the 30th
anniversary of JR privatisation, JR East has issued a limited edition
of 300 binders, each with a platform ticket for each of its 1,634
stations. Applications could be made from mid July until the issue
date, ‘Tetsudō no Hi’ (Railway Day) on 14th October. Priced at 228,760 yen, the platform tickets can be used until 31st March 2018.
‘Machinery Day’ on 7th
August saw JSME, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, designate
seven historic items as a ‘Mechanical Engineering Heritage Property’.
One of these was the first subway car type for the pioneering
Ginza Line in Tōkyō, which opened in 1927. MoHa car 1001 was the first
of ten cars.
20th August saw celebrations of 80th
anniversary of the completion of running throughout the Iida Line,
which is now operated by JR Tōkai and which is an unusually long rural
electrified line, at 196 km and with
94 stations. Commemorations featured a type 373 operated
express with headboard and tapecutting ceremony at Toyohashi Station
Comebacks Asahi Shimbun/Mainichi Shimbun/Tetsudō JournalAs
reported in ‘News Update’ in issues 92 and 93 of ‘Bullet-In’, 1943
built D51 827, which was formerly preserved in Ama in Aichi Prefecture
is now owned by Achiha, an Ōsaka company specializing in
transporting trains. On 25th June, following repairs
and repainting, it had a trial run at Aridagawa Tetsudō Park in
Wakayama Prefecture, using air pressure. Takaaki Achiha, president of
the company said, “We would like children who have never seen an
SL moving to see and touch it.” The Aridagawa Tetsudō Park opened in
March 2010 and also features rolling stock which operated on the 3rd-sector Arida Tetsudō, which closed at the end of 2002, in the form of KiHa 58 003 and railbus HaIMo 180-101.
indicated in the last issue’s ‘News Update’, another D51, Umekoji based
D51 200, had been undergoing testing on the Hokuriku Line. Subsequent
testing took place on 11th July on the Yamaguchi Line for future ‘SL
As previously reported, Tobu has
been preparing for the return of steam after more than five decades.
The day for this return dawned on 10th August, with C11-207 making the 12.4 km from Shimoimaichi to Kinugawa Onsen in 35 minutes.
Relieving Congestion The Japan Times Although
rail congestion has been somewhat relieved in Tōkyō with the expansion
of the rail network, especially subway lines, rush-hour overcrowding
remains severe, with the two most crowded sections (at 199%
of capacity) being Tōkyō Metro’s Tozai Line (Kiba to
Monzen-Nakacho from 07:50 to 08:50) and JR East’s Sobu Line (Kinshichō
to Ryōgoku from 07:34 to 08:34). Yuriko Koike, the Tōkyō Governor whose
party was successful in city elections in 2nd July, started a two-week campaign on 11th
July to encourage companies to provide more flexible working hours to
reduce pressure in the morning peak. More radically, she
once suggested running double-decker trains with two level
platforms. The new ‘Jisa Biz’ campaign sees the Tōkyō Metropolitan
Government encouraging companies to allow employees to start work after
08:00 or after 09:00, with the cooperation of both employers and
rail companies. Tokyu will start its ‘Jisa Biz Liner’ on eight days up
to 21st July, departing from Chuorinkan at 06:04 for Oshiage
(07:15). In addition, Tokyu will use an app to offer commuters
shopping vouchers, if they pass through Shibuya before 07:30, whether
they get off their train there or not. In August JR East started giving
early commuters extra points on their ‘Suica’ IC cards. Commuters
spending over 200 yen at JR East related convenience stores between
Chiba and Akihabara before 07:00 on more than ten mornings during the
month could join a lottery for 500 prizes of 10,000 yen’s worth of
More Surveillance Kyodo/Japan Today
installation of more CCTV cameras on trains has been reported in recent
‘News Updates’. To ‘enhance security’ ahead of the Tōkyō Olympics and
Paralympics, JR Kyūshū is installing cameras on its older type
800 shinkansen sets from November. During the 2018 financial year,
it plans to add additional cameras to its ‘N700’ sets which are used on
‘Sakura’ and ‘Mizuho’ services, and aims to complete all installation
work by 2020.
Catering for the Inbound Surge Asahi Shimbun/Tetsudō Journal
large increase in inbound tourists to Japan has led JR West to increase
luggage storage space, with Ōsaka Station now having 650 lockers which
are large enough to keep suitcases, an increase of 60% from two years
ago. During the same period, the number of such lockers at Kyōto
Station has risen by 40% to 500.
Enhanced Exhibits Asahi Shimbun
The Saitama Railway Museum, familiar to members who have visited Japan, saw its diorama reopened after renewal on 14th
July. 23 metres in length and 10 metres wide, viewing glass has now
been removed, making it easier for visitors to see the
approximately 1,400 models operating on tracks totaling 1,200 metres.
The latter now include models representing Kanto area private railways.
In addition, the 140 seat ‘Restaurant Nippon Shokudo’ is
modelled after dining cars from the era between the 1950s and 1970s.
Its menu includes former staples, hayashi rice and beef curry plus
fillet steak which was formerly served to passengers on
the Cassiopeia sleeper. Finally, a newly introduced Railway
Cultural Gallery has interactive features for railway related works,
including 77 novels, essays, and cartoons, 22 paintings, 55 films, 51
songs, and 66 ‘ekiben’ station lunchboxes and ‘ekisoba’
Overseas Activities The Japan Times/Japan Today/Railway Gazette/Alan DeBurton
Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Corporation have won a 40 billion yen
order to supply 144 train cars and maintenance depot equipment from
Bangladeshi’s state run Dhaka Mass Rapid Transport for its 20
km MRT Line 6. The aim of this fully elevated route linking the
north and south of Dhaka is to ease traffic congestion and is financed
by loans from J.I.C.A. (Japan International Cooperation Agency). Work
will be divided between Kawasaki’s focus on design, production and
supply of train cars and depot equipment, as well as training local
personnel. Mitsubishi will manage commercial administration and also
partially supply depot equipment.
According to Hun Sen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister, on a visit to Japan on 7th
August, the country is requesting investment totaling 800 million
dollars for an elevated rail system in the country’s capital, Phnom
Penh, to link the centre with the city’s international airport.
Japan is the third largest donor to the country.
The U.K. Department of Transport announced on 10th
August that the West Midlands Trains consortium, led by NS subsidiary,
Abelio, with a 70.1% share, but also with 29.9% involvement by JR East
and Mitsui, has won the West Midlands area franchise for the
period from December 2017 until March 2026. It is the first such
involvement for JR East, but Mitsui gained a 40% involvement in the
Abelio led Greater Anglia franchise in March 2017.
Pulling Out The Japan Times
investment firm Cerberus, which was once the top shareholder in Seibu
Holdings, with more than 35%, has now sold its shares, which had
dropped to 2.35% by April. It first invested in Seibu when it was
reorganized in 2006 after a previous fraud issue which had caused
delisting in 2004. At times, it put pressure on Seibu and one U.S.
board member was appointed. On 16th August, Seibu Holdings President,
Takashi Goto, expressed the company’s gratitude for support from
News Update Archive