Thursday, December 17, 2009   9:45 AM

Japan's fastest service Shinkansen previewed

The new E5 Shinkansen, which will run on the Tohoku Shinkansen on the extension to Aomori following its opening in December 2010, was demonstrated to the press on December 15th. The E5 will enter regular service in March 2011 and reduce the journey time between Tokyo and Aomori on the northern tip of Honshu island to 3 hours 20 minutes. Current fastest journey time is a little over 4 hours, with a change of trains at the current Shinkansen terminus in Hachinohe.

By the end of 2012 E5 trains are scheduled to run at their maximum service speed of 320km/h. Currently the fastest timetabled services run at 300km/h, on the Sanyo Shinkansen.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009   9:28 AM

British "Shinkansen"

Old news by now, but it looks like the railway clock has turned full circle. The first locomotive to operate in Japan was British-made (it's on display in the Railway Museum in Saitama), but in recent years (well, since the end of WWII really), British railways have degraded from world class to a world-class joke. And now Japanese-built trains have finally made the return trip, so to speak, introducing elements of Shinkansen technology onto Britain's only true high-speed line in the form of Class 395 "Javelin" trains which will operate on domestic services on the "High Speed 1" line running betwween London and Ashford on the Kent coast.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009  12:57 AM

Moody Station Picture

Kikuna Station (菊名駅) on the Yokohama Line at dusk. I'm not the world's greatest photographer, but this picture encapsulates something I like about many stations in Japan, i.e. the way they are closely integrated into the surrounding community. Unfortunately, maybe, many urban stations are being rebuilt (often in conjunction with line upgrades) and though they become much more convenient, they end up losing much of their character. The Odakyu line is one example of this, having been transformed over the past 10 - 15 years from what was essentially a trumped up tramline to a multi-line highspeed train expressway. Go a little way off the beaten track though and things fast get back to "normal".

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Monday, December 14, 2009  12:50 AM

Old Tokyo Metro Train (5000 Series)

Japan is renowned for its excellent trains, and especially in the Tokyo area means a lot of investment is made in new stock. This does however mean that older trains, especially those based on designs from the 60s and 70s, are disappearing fast. The Tokyo Metro 5000 series (東京地下鉄5000系, Tōkyō Chikatetsu 5000-kei) was built from 1964 onwards for the newly-opened Tozai Line, but by 2007 had been replaced by newer units. Two three-car sets are still in service though, operating a shuttle service on the Kita-Ayase branch of the Chiyoda Line. One is pictured here at Ayase Station in September 2009:

The units have been modified for one-man operation but otherwise haven't been overly modernised.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009   9:13 AM

Vietnam to create Shinkansen system

According to this Japan Times article, it looks like Vietnam will be adopting a high-speed railway system based on Japan's Shinkansen technology to create a north-south rail link connecting Hanoi and Hoh Chi Minh City (Saigon). If the Wikipedia article is to be believed, the current metre-gauge North-South Railway "holds the world's record for being the railway on which the speed of the trains is slowest. The highest speed that the trains of Vietnam Railways Corporation> have reached on this line so far is 30 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi or vice versa", a distance of about 1,700 km. (By comparision the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen route from Tokyo to Fukuoka is about 1,200 km).

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Friday, December 11, 2009  12:10 AM

D51 853 (Asukayama Park)

In yesterday's post I mentioned that the C61s were built using parts from redundant D51s and D52s. That rang a bell and looking through my photo collection I found some pictures of D51 853, which is on display in Asukayama Park (飛鳥山公園) in Tokyo's Kita-ku:

D51 853 in Asukayama Park (飛鳥山公園) , Tokyo

D51 853 looks to be in fairly good condition and as you can see has some shelter from the elements. It's sitting at the edge of a children's playground along with an old Tokyo tram, which I don't have any pictures of.

D51 853 in Asukayama Park (飛鳥山公園) , Tokyo

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Thursday, December 10, 2009  12:50 AM

JNR C61 Steam Locomotive To Be Restored

For the country which developed the Shinkansen, Japan took a remarkably long time to retire its steam locomotives, with the last ones being taken out of service in the mid-1970s. Quite a few have survived as park ornaments, such as C61 class (C61形) No. 20 (C61 20) pictured above (via Wikipedia, see below for link), which JR East has announced will be restored to running order by spring 2011.

Restoration will cost around 300,000,000 yen (think 2 million Euro or 3 million US$ for a rough equivalent) and will be used to haul special trains within Gunma Prefecture. The C61 is currently exhibited in Kezoji Amusement Park (華蔵寺公園遊園地) in Isezaki (伊勢崎市).


Since 2011 this locomotive has been running on excursion services in Gunma, see the official JR page for details.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009   1:41 AM


Due to signal trouble at Nishi-Ogikubo station early this morning, serious delays were caused during the morning rush hour centred on the Chuo Express line and Chuo-Sobu local line.

This caused significant inconvenience to our customers. We apologise most humbly for this.

December 9th 2009

Gotanda Station Master

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