Friday, 19 January 2018

EMU E235 Series: Large Force on the Yamanote Line

Set ToU 10 of the EMU JR East E235 series arrives at Okachimachi Station

Replacing the E231-500 series, the EMU JR East E235 series has recently become the large force on the Yamanote line. 

The E235 series was launched on November 30th, 2015 as the latest model on the Yamanote line for the first time in 13 years. It is an 11-car direct current EMU consisting of 6 motor cars and 5 trailers. As of January 2018, a total of 14 sets (151 units) are operated. Most of them were newly built by J-TREC Niitsu Factory, but 12 units (the Type SaHa E235) were modified from the Type SaHa E231-4600 of the EMU E231 series.

The Yamanote line is well known as Japan's busiest railway. This line is looped through the downtown area of Tokyo. Its total route length is 34 km. The train covers the entire route in about 60 minutes both clockwise and counter-clockwise. There are 29 stations and most of them are interchange stations to the subway, private railways and/or other JR lines.

The E235 series has an advanced apparatus such as an SIC-element VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) electric control system. I agree with its innovativeness; however, the outer design of the E235 series is not my cup of tea, to be honest. I call it "a microwave oven" because of its front design.

JR East plans to introduce a total of 50 sets of the E235 series by March 2020. It means that the EMU 231-500 series will be totally replaced by the E235 series by that time.

Set ToU 11 of the EMU JR East E235 series leaves Shibuya Station on the Yamanote Line

Official information about the EMU JR East E235 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Winter Scene and Old Climber in Hakone

Electric car number 106 of the Hakone-Tozan MoHa 1 series arrives at Tonosawa Station

Hakone is a popular sightseeing area in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is said that nearly 20 million tourists visit this mountain resort per year because they can enjoy the nature and the hot springs less than two hours from the heart of the city. Hakone is always busy with visitors, but it is a bit empty in the winter season.

One day this winter, I visited Lake Ashinoko in Hakone with my family. It was sunset time. The air was transparent and the stars had just started twinkling. There were no visitors by the lake except us. There were no noises beside the sound of the breeze. I found that the winter scene in Hakone had another seduction.

To get to Lake Ashinoko, we took the Hakone Tozan Railway from Odawara Station. Transferring from the railway to the funicular at Gora Station, we then took the aerial tramway from Sounzan to Togendai, the Ashinoko lakeside station. One of my favorite vehicles on the Hakone Tozan Railway is the classic electric car, the MoHa 1 series. This model was originally launched in 1919 and remodeled in 1950. The MoHa 1 series still retains its classic design with a large rounded light on top of the face. A total of 6 units were remodeled by Kisha Kaisha, and 4 units (103, 104, 106 and 107) are still operated.

The beautiful sunset and the old climbing electric car... I fully enjoyed the winter scene of Hakone Mountain.

Sunset view of Lake Ashino-ko in Hakone Mountain

Friday, 12 January 2018

Countdown to the Last Run: E351 Super-Azusa

EMU JR East E351 series, limited express "Super-Azusa", passes through Takao Station

On December 23rd, 2017, JR East launched a new express train, the EMU E353 series, on their Chuo Main Line. The E353 series was started to operate as a limited express train "Super-Azusa", for the time being, but it will be also operated as "Azusa" in the near future. The introduction of the new model will cause JR East to make train transfers one after another. Firstly, the EMU E257 series, which is commissioned as "Azusa", will be moved to the Tokaido Main Line as a limited express "Odoriko". Secondly, the E351 series, which is commissioned as "Super-Azusa", will soon be retired from the track.

The EMU E351 series is the representative express train on the eastern half of the Chuo Main Line. It was specially developed in 1993 for passing through tight curves in mountain ranges at a high speed. Just before entering the curves, the train automatically tilts its body to mitigate the centrifugal force, so that it is called a "pendulum train" with a computer-controlled tilting mechanism. Thanks to this device, the 351 series has greatly reduced the travel time on the line. I like to see the E351 series traveling fast on curved tracks in the beautiful mountain ranges by tilting its bodies. A total of 10 sets (8-car and 4-car trains), and 60 units were built by Hitachi and Nippon Sharyo.

According to JR East, the last run of the E351 series will be in March, 2018. Panta rhei (All things are in a state of flux).

EMU JR East E351 series, limited express "Super-Azusa", arrives at Ootsuki Station

Official information about the EMU JR East E351 series by Nippon Sharyo (in Japanese):