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News Update

By Anthony Robins

September 2015

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New and Revised Faces     Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal

JR Kyūshū’s type 305 is a six-car (T+M+M +M+M+T) 1500v DC type in use since February on Chikuhi Line and Fukuoka Airport Line services. Livery is white with a variety of designs of seat covering and even wooden flooring (in car 1 only).

Another sightseeing train to start operations is KiHa 40 2007 running the ‘Tenkū no Shiro (Castle in the Sky) - Takedajosekigo’ as a daily return service along the Bantan Line between Wadayama and Teramae in Hyōgo Prefecture from 20th March to the end of June. The car emblazoned with images of the increasingly popular Takeda Castle features a mixture of regular seating and single seats positioned directly for window viewing.

With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (see issue 84), the ‘Shirayuki’ limited express feeder service began linking Niigata and Joetsu-Myoko (Hokuriku Shinkansen), as well as Arai over the Echigo Tokimeki Line. Operating the service are four type E653-1100 units (H201-H204) formed from former ‘Fresh Hitachi’ sets, in a white and blue livery with red stripe.

Hanshin’s type 5700 commenced service in summer 2015 for stopping services, with the first four-car set. Livery is unpainted with blue and grey relief, including around the doors. Nankai’s type 8300, entering service from the autumn, will consist of five four-car sets. Livery is Nankai’s typical silver/grey with blue/orange stripes. It features energy efficient LED lighting and a four language display. Capacity is 141 (47 seated) in end cars and 153 (55 seated) in intermediate cars.

Meitetsu’s (Nagoya Railroad) 2015 rolling stock plans see two new 6 car type 2200 limited express sets, two 2 car type 3150s and one 4 car type 3300 (all existing designs), as well as refurbishing of three 6 car type 1200 limited express sets. Total rolling stock budget is 18.9 billion yen.

Following the plethora of 3rd-sector companies which took over parallel local lines with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in March, the South Hokkaidō Railway Company (Donan Isarabi Tetsudō) will take over the 37.8 kms of the Esashi Line between Kikonai and Goryokaku when the Hokkaidō Shinkansen reaches Hakodate in spring 2016.

Yokkaichi Asunarou Tetsudō is the new 3rd sector company for operating the 762mm lines in Yokkaichi in Mie from 1st April. Kintetsu retains a 75% interest and the city has a 25% share of the operation. Fares rose, including the former minimum 170 yen fare which is now 200 yen.

Operating from 16th March on the Kumamoto Electric Railway has been a two car ex Tōkyō Metro Ginza Line set. Still in their original livery, but fitted with Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ CFRP bogies, the cars are 01-636 and 01-136.

Tram Developments   Tetsudō Fan/Tetsudō Journal

F1002 is Fukui Tetsudō’s second F1000 ‘Fukuramu’ 3 part low-floor car.  In a mid-blue livery, it debuted on 18th February.

On behalf of Toshiba, Kagoshima City trams tested a lithium-ion battery system on its low-floor car 1011, allowing it to operate with pantograph down on 23rd April. Kagoshima also opened its new depot in Uerata-cho on 1st May, with the former Shinden stop on route 2 being renamed K
ōtsukyokumae. The former stop with that name on route 1 is now Nichudori.

Back in Action  The Japan Times

Four years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Senseki Line reopened between Takagimachi and Rikuzen-Ono, partly on higher ground, on 30th May. A new link, the Senseki Tōhoku Line, between the two lines also now allows services between Sendai and Ishinomaki by the combination of lines. A two-car hybrid HB-E210 set has been introduced for operation of this route. 

Testing Times        Tetsudō Fan

Among types being tested in the early spring were two EF65s running on the new Ueno Tokyo Line on 21st February, JR East’s all green car E655 (also used as the Emperor’s train) running on the same line on 25th February, and N700A set G19 which ran a trial 285 Km/h service on the same day between Tōkyō and Shin Ōsaka in preparation for a speed up with the 14th March timetable change. Meitetsu’s new EL120 locomotives were also testing between Ina and Toyoake on 19th and 20th February and topping and tailing ballast wagons on 
28th February, as well as in the Inuyama area on 16th March. Finally, JR East’s new type E235 for the Yamanote Line was tested between 14th and 20th April.

Bowing Out          Tetsudō Journal

Early spring saw the retirement of two classic types, Keisei’s 3300 and Tōkyū’s 7600. The last run of the former saw sets 3304 and 3344 depart from Keisei Ueno for Narita on 28th February.

First Time      Asahi Shimbun/Chunichi Shimbun/TNEM/Tetsudō Journal

For the first time, a JR company, in this case JR Tōkai, has appointed a non-Japanese as a board director. American, Torkel Patterson, will be part-time, as he is currently President of The Northeast Maglev, a company which aims to introduce JR Tōkai’s Maglev system, initially between Washington and Baltimore and later to New York. Patterson studied at Tsukuba University, has held US government posts, and was most recently President of Raytheon International.

The ‘Banetsu Monogatari’ steam service (Aizu-Wakamatsu – Niigata) saw its first use of C61 20 when it hauled the train on 3rd May.

To mark the 10
th anniversary of its ‘VSE’ type 50000, an Odakyu 50000 set on a group tour covered all of its lines on 28th and 29th March.

Good Service and Less Service           The Japan Times/
Tetsudō Fan

th May saw the World Economic Forum state that Japan had risen from 14th place in 2013 to 9th place in 2015 among the world’s ‘most tourist-friendly countries’. However, in ‘quality of railroad infrastructure’, it came first.

Moving On     Tetsudō Journal

Joining the 356 JR East type 205 cars which have already moved to Jakarta for suburban services there after being withdrawn from Saikyō Line and Yokohama Line services are another 120 cars from the Nambu Line where they are being replaced by E233-8000s. The process of moving them began in late April.

Passing On           Asahi Shimbun

Tama, the famed cat, who made a great contribution to the finances of Wakayama Electric Railway as Kishi’s stationmaster and one time boardmember, passed away on 22nd June at the age of 16.

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