Saturday, 11 July 2020

JR East's new plan for Tokyo (2024-) revealed

On 6th July, a trade union revealed that JR East is going to introduce more E235 series EMUs on Keihin-Tohoku, Negishi and Yokohama lines from fiscal year 2024. According to Kyodo News, these plans are part of the company's project to start driver-only operation in Tokyo, which is likely to be a milestone in Japanese railway history.

Ebisu, 21 Feb 2017
The E235 series has been introduced to Yamanote and Yokosuka lines since 2015. JR East defines it as the standard commuter train of the next generation. It has already replaced all E231 series on Yamanote line this year, and going to replace all E217 series on Sobu Rapid and Yokosuka lines in a few years. From 2024, the E235 series will also replace all E233 series on three lines aforementioned.

Kannai, 4 Apr 2012
The E233 series on Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi lines was introduced in 2007-10, with 83 ten-carriage units replacing 209 series. JR East has been designing trains since 1990s that their life span should be half of Japanese National Railways' rolling stock, or around 15 years. Therefore, it is understandable that those E233 series fleets will be replaced with new trains from 2024, seventeen years after their introduction.

Aihara, 21 Aug 2018
On the other hand, the E233 series on Yokohama line is quite new, as 28 eight-carriage units entered into service in 2014 to replace 205 series of JNR. The E233 series here have to leave the line despite being young. This is because rolling stock for Yokohama line must be compatible with Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi lines' system, as Yokohama line's fleets also run on those two lines.

Clockwise from top left: 205 (Sendai), 209 (Chiba), 211 series (Nagano and Takasaki)
The E233 series fleets will be shortened, refurbished and reallocated to following regions: Chiba (ex. Sotobo and Uchibo lines), Nagano and Yamanashi (ex. Chuo Main and Shinonoi lines), Sendai (i.e. Senseki line) and Takasaki areas (ex. Joetsu and Ryomo lines). The reallocated E233 series are also going to be compatible with driver-only operation.
These facts mean that current rolling stock in those areas (205, 209 and 211 series, which were built in late 1980s or early-90s, will be replaced with the E233 series.

Building new trains takes quite long. When the E233 series were introduced, 83 units were delivered to Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi lines in 29 months, while 28 units to Yokohama line in seven months. The introduction of 49 units of E235 series to Yamanote line took 30 months (excluding one prototype), a little slower because the fleets required several coaches converted from other type. It is difficult to predict how long does it take, but introduction of the new E235 series might take at least three years to be completed.

Reallocation of the E233 series might start much later, as they have to be converted with new traction equipment, new cameras, monitors and computers that allow driver-only operation. They might also be refurbished with an accessible toilet. It is too early to speculate when they will enter into service, but presumably no earlier than 2025. By then, considerable number of redundant intermediate carriages of E233 series will be scrapped.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Seibu Railway: the future of the "three doors"

Tokorozawa - Higashi-murayama, 14 Sep 2017
Seibu Railway is a private railway company in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, operating 12 lines (176 km/110 miles long). It is well known for yellow trains, though the company has been painting its new trains in different liveries since 1990s.
Today, most commuter trains on Seibu lines have four pairs of door per coach. Those with three pairs of door are critically endangered, and likely to disappear in the next few years.

Nerima-takanodai, 28 May 2012
Until early-2010s, considerable number of three-door commuter trains were used on Seibu network. Since the Second World War, the company had made effort to increase capacity of service by trains with longitudinal seating while offering more seats for relatively long-distance commuters (i.e. fewer number of doors than trains on other railways).

Koigakubo - Kokubunji, 28 Dec 2015
In 1977, 2000 series entered into service for the first time. Unlike other trains, it has four doors on each side of coach, as Seibu intended to cut journey time of stopping services by making boarding and alighting smoother than before. This was unique and ambitious for the company at that time.
Seibu changed its policy in 1980s and shifted to introduce more four-door commuter trains as the number of passengers surged.

Ekoda - Higashi-nagasaki, 29 Sep 2014
In 2010s, another problem emerged: platform edge doors. In light of recent accidents (especially blind people being hit by train) in urban areas, and in accordance with law (to be specific, Act on Promotion of Smooth Transportation, etc. of Elderly Persons, Disabled Persons, etc), the government has been putting pressures on railway companies to be compatible with accessibility requirements.
Therefore, Seibu decided to withdraw all three-door trains before installing platform edge doors at major stations. The last three-door train on mainline service was 3000 series (1983-2014), which was operated particularly shorter than other rolling stock.

Yasaka - Hagiyama, 16 Apr 2015
A few three-door trains remained on some branch lines even after 2015. On Tamako and Tamagawa lines, four-carriage units of 101 series (introduced in 1979-82) are operated. Since they were refurbished and are compatible with driver-only operation, they were likely to remain in service for a while.

Ekoda - Higashi-nagasaki, 18 Sep 2018
However, the 101 series might also be withdrawn soon. Seibu has announced last year that it plans to install platform edge doors at Kokubunji station in fiscal year 2020. Furthermore, some 9000 series fleets (introduced in 1993-99) which were taken out from Ikebukuro line have been shortened to four coaches and stored at Musashigaoka Maintenance Depot, suggesting that they are going to be reallocated to Tamako line and replace the 101 series.

Musashi-sakai, 2 Oct 2019
Even if so, the 101 series on Tamagawa line is unlikely to be replaced with the 9000 series, because the number of the 9000s falls short of that of the 101s. Moreover, Tamagawa line is independent of other Seibu lines so that it is not easy for the company to replace rolling stock. And of course, it is highly unlikely to see a brand new train being introduced to such an unprofitable line.

Nevertheless, Tamagawa line's units might be replaced in near future with reallocated fleets, probably 2000 series. As the number of old rolling stock declines, the company struggles more to maintain them. The government increases more pressure on railway companies to make them accessible. Eventually, all three-door trains are going to leave Seibu lines, which will be a turning point for the company's history.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Keikyu 1000 series: 10 years since retirement

Kanazawa-bunko, 29 May 2010
10 years ago, Keikyu 1000 series (I) ,one of the most famous and oldest EMU in Tokyo at that time, retired. It was designed as Keikyu's first rolling stock for direct service towards Asakusa underground line, and operated not only on Keikyu but also Asakusa, Keisei and Hokuso lines for decades.

Kurihama Factory, 29 May 2011
356 carriages were built in 1959-78, the second largest number in Keikyu's history after 1000 series (II), which has been introduced since 2002. The 1000 series (I) could be classified into several categories, but broadly they might be divided into two groups; those were built before 1968 and after 1971.

Kurihama Factory, 30 May 2004
The first group was constructed in 1959-68 with white destination blinds. They were refurbished in 1970s, and air conditioners were also installed as well. Withdrawals commenced in 1986, but the last fleet remained until 2005.

Tachiaigawa, 10 Mar 2010
The second group was built in 1971-78. Trains of this group were air-conditioned from the very beginning, and stronger motors than the first group were equipped as it became heavier by air conditioners. They were refurbished in 1988-94, and destination blinds were replaced with black ones, making them easier to distinguish. Withdrawals commenced in 2005 as the 1000 series (II) was introduced, and all trains retired in 2010.

Higashimonzen, 9 Jun 2010
By May 2010, it was obvious that the last unit would be withdrawn in days, as the company put a small plate below a cab with a message expressing gratitude to the fleet. It had been operated on Daishi line with the plate for four weeks, before sent for scrapping on the last day of June.

Kurihama Factory, 25 Dec 2013
A two-carriage unit has been stored at Kurihama Factory even after being deregistered. Many people thought that it would be scrapped soon, but it still remains. However, its traction and electric wirings have been broken so that it cannot move by its own power.

Kurihama Factory, 20 May 2018
Even so, the unit was repainted and cleaned in 2017 as if being in regular service. This suggests that the company intends to statically preserve the unit, since the 1000 series (I) is important rolling stock in the company's history.

Hemi, 7 Jun 2018
Finally, it should not be forgotten that some 1000 series (I) units survive. As this blog showed before, Keikyu has three wagons called DeTo for engineering works.

Sanjo - Ota, 19 May 2017
Furthermore, 20 carriages in total were resold to Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad (Kotoden) in Takamatsu, western Japan. Most of them are regularly operated on Kotohira and Nagao lines.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

JR East 205 series: the variant on Sagami line

Kadosawabashi - Kurami, 5 Apr 2013
In the middle of Kanagawa Prefecture, there is a single-track line called Sagami line, which is owned by JR East. It lies between Chigasaki and Hashimoto, and is 33.3 km (20.7 miles) long.
The Sagami line is not famous among people even in the Prefecture, as it does not have any direct service to Tokyo, nor has major stations with great number of passengers (compare to other railways nearby).

Aihara, 21 Apr 2015
Here, 205 series EMU has been operated since the electrification in 1991. It is hard to believe that this is actually the 205 series, as its front design is completely different from other fleets. Door open/close buttons also draw attention, as original fleets do not have them.
There are 13 four-carriage units on the line, allocated to Kozu Depot. During peak hours, some trains run on Yokohama line towards Hachioji, a major interchange station on Chuo Main Line.

Maihama, 21 Jan 2020
The 205 series was originally developed by Japanese National Railways in 1985, and introduced to major commuter lines in the capital such as Saikyo, Musashino and Yamanote lines. JR East has been replacing it with E233 series since 2010s and is about to be withdrawn from Tokyo area soon. Many retired fleets were exported to Indonesia and have been operated in Jakarta.
However, JR East has not yet announced any plan about replacement of the 205 series on Sagami line.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

123 series, a single-coach train on Chuo line

Nishi-Ogikubo, 31 Jan 2017
Chuo line is one of the most famous, important and crowded commuter line in Tokyo area. At Shinjuku, the busiest station in the world, up to 29 trains per hour on each direction come with more than ten coaches.

Sagamiko - Takao, 3 Sep 2013
However, not the entire Chuo line is as busy as such. It is 264-mile (427 km) long in mostly suburban or even rural areas except in Tokyo and Nagoya so that there are less frequent services with shorter trains.

Shinano-Kawashima - Tatsuno, 3 Jan 2013
In Nagano Prefecture, there was a rare single-coach EMU called 123 series. The series was developed by Japanese National Railways in 1986, converted from 143, 145 and 147 series EMUs (parcel and mail trains). These trains were initially introduced in 1978-82, but parcel and mail services on rail were discontinued by 1986. JNR has decided to reuse these redundant carriages on rural but electrified lines.
The 123 series has longitudinal seating with two pairs of doors despite it is classified as "suburban train". 13 carriages were introduced in total, but each of them has different features.

Shinano-Kawashima, 3 Jan 2013
On Chuo line, the first carriage of 123 series (nicknamed mini-echo) was used mainly between Tatsuno and Shiojiri. This section was once part of main line, but it became a rural branch line when a shortcut was constructed nearby in 1983.
Most people in Tokyo would not believe that this Shinano-Kawashima station is on the Chuo line, with only 2,550 users a year. Today, there are 11 services on each direction of so-called Tatsuno Branch line. This ridiculously long platform is served by only few trains with one or two coaches.

Shiojiri, 3 Jan 2013
Mini-echo was built in 1978 as a parcel train of the 143 series, and converted to passenger train in 1986. Unlike other 123 series carriages, mini-echo had many small windows between doors. It had been used on Tatsuno Branch line until March 2013, when it was replaced with E127 series.

Hodaka - Hakuyacho, 16 May 2016
The E127 series was initially introduced to Oito line in 1998. Even before 2013, the E127 series occasionally entered to Tatsuno Branch line, especially when mini-echo was being maintained or overhauled in a depot. Therefore, the replacement of rolling stock on the Branch line did not draw much attention.

The Chuo line is recognised as a busy railway line, but some part of the line is not. Taking trains from Tokyo towards those rural areas is always fun, as everything changes as you go further, like views, people and trains themselves.