Friday, July 21, 2017

New Relaxing Train on the Seibu Railway Network

EMU Seibu 40000 series passes through Tsunashima Station on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line

Japan has a problem that urban commuter trains are always crowded in the rush hour. On the other hand, it will soon be another problem that a number of urban commuters decrease due to the decreasing birthrate and population. It is a dilemma for the railway companies. What should they do?

For the former problem, the urban railway companies are continuously conducting enhancement of transportation capacity, such as constructions of double-double tracks and introductions of the longer trains. On the other hand, for the latter problem, many companies have started to operate special commuter trains with reserved seats to improve the quality of passenger service.

Please look at the picture. It is Seibu's new EMU, the 40000 series, launched on March 25th this year. This new model is operated as a commuter train with reserved seats between Tokorozawa on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line and Toyosu on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line on weekdays. It is also operated as a sightseeing train between Seibu-Chichibu on the Seibu-Chichibu Line and Motomachi-Chukagai on the Minato-Mirai Line on weekends.

One of the features of the 40000 series is its multi-purpose seat, which the conductor can change from long seats to cross seats using a remote control. Needless to say, the 40000 series is used as a cross seat train, when it is operated as a reserved seat train, named the "S-train". It is similar with those of "Keikyu Wing" and "Tobu TJ Liner".

S-train... it is a new relaxing train on the Seibu railway network.

EMU Seibu 40000 series leaves Tsunashima Station on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line

Official information about S-train (in Japanese): https://www.seiburailway.jp/express/s-train/

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

EMU 415 Series: Inter-island Commuter Train

EMU JR Kyushu 415 series arrives at Shimonoseki Station

As I posted before, Shimonoseki is known as the westernmost city of Honshu Island (the main island), about 1,100 km west of Tokyo. It is very close to Kita-Kyushu City on Kyushu Island across the Kanmon Straits via Kanmon Railway Tunnel, so that Shimonoseki functions as a gateway city to Kyushu Island.

If you visit JR West Shimonoseki Station, you can see not only JR West's rolling stock, but also trains from JR Kyushu lines. For instance, the EMU 415 series is the representative commuter train from Kyushu Island. The 415 series was launched in 1971 by Japanese National Railways (hereafter JNR). It is an AC (alternate current)-DC (direct current) dual electric system train built by Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and so on. Currently, JR Kyushu has a total of 40 sets, 160 units of the 415 series. This model is operated as a DC train on the section between Shimonoseki and Moji stations via Kanmon Railway Tunnel; while it is used as an AC train on the tracks on Kyushu Island.

The outer design of the 415 series is the same as that of the JR West 115 series on the Sanyo Main Line. It is JNR's standard commuter train with a so-called "Tokai-type" face. Tokai is named after the Tokaido Line. As the name suggests, the first Tokai-type train had been operated on the Tokaido Line since 1958.

The EMU JR Kyushu 415 series... it is an inter-island commuter train with a traditional Tokai-type face.

Night view of Shimonoseki City near Shimonoseki Station

Saturday, July 15, 2017

EXE-alpha: Renovated Romance Car on the Odakyu Line

EMU Odakyu 30000 series, Romance Car EXE-alpha, passes through Kyodo Station

On March 1st, Odakyu Electric Railway Company launched a renovated Romance Car, EXE-alpha, set numbers 30251 (6-car train) and 30051 (4-car train) of the EMU 30000 series on their tracks. 

The EMU 30000 series, EXE, is the first multipurpose Romance Car on the Odakyu Line. EXE stands for "Excellent Express". It was commissioned in 1996 to replace the old model, the 3100 series, named NSE. Since one set of the train is composed of ten twenty-meter cars (a total length of 200 meters), it has a greatly increased passenger capacity. One set can be broken up into six and four car sections to enhance operational flexibility as a multipurpose Romance Car. Different from the other traditional Romance Car models, such as the 7000 (LSE) and the 50000 (VSE) series, the 30000 series (EXE) doesn't have an upstairs cockpit. 

After 21 years of its operation, the 30000 series, EXE, has been reborn as EXE-alpha. Where are those different? Firstly, the body color was changed from bronze to silver. Some rail-fans may favor it, as a silver medal is superior to a bronze medal. Secondly, the interior was upgraded. For instance, a luggage space was equipped in some cars. It is good news for inbound foreign passengers. Thirdly, the travelling apparatus was changed. For example, the electric control system was replaced from IGBT-VVVF (insulated gate bipolar transistor-variable frequency drive) to SiC-VVVF (silicon carbide-variable frequency drive) inverter system to reduce the electric power consumption.

EXE-alpha provides passengers with extra hospitality.

EMU Odakyu 30000 series, Romance Car EXE (original)

Official information about EXE-alpha, the EMU Odakyu 30000 series (in Japanese):