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  1. Kabutoni

    Kanto Railway

    This is a strange and fabulous company that deserves its own topic. It's a railway line that is not covered much by fans, as it's quite remote and relatively expensive to travel on. That is, if you're not looking beyond your own field of perception. More on that later. The Kantō Railway (関東鉄道) is owned by the Keisei Group and operates two lines. Both are fully dieselised and are operated with 3-door DMU. - One is the very short Ryūgasaki line (4,5km), starting at Sanuki on the JR Jōban line and ending in Ryūgasaki in the sticks. It's a very charming line that runs through the fields and only has three diesel cars in operation. Two of them are new types (no. 2001 and 2002), of which one only runs on Sunday with a special promotional livery. And the third one is an older type (no. 532), based on a modified JNR KiHa 20, which occasionally runs in the weekends. - The second one is the Jōsō line from Toride, also strarting on the JR Jōban line (far end of the 1500V DC area) and ending in Shimodate on the JR Mito line (20kV AC 50Hz area). There the Mooka Railway (famous for its C11 and C12 steam trains in the weekend) also has its starting point. There are day passes in the weekend for ¥1500 which can be used to travel the whole of the Jōsō line. It's kind of a strange pass, since it allows you to travel for less than the entire line in one go! From Toride to Shimodate it costs ¥1510 and it's only one way, whereas the day ticket allows you to travel as much as you like the whole day. So, I did. That day, I also obtained a free to use rental bicycle at Mitsukaidō station (水海道) and rode to the line's car shed to snap pictures of the rolling stock that rarely runs nowadays. It looks like they're saving some up for a museum of some sort. They certainly have the space for it as opposed to other railway companies! Rental cycles could only be obtained with a valid drivers licence or a valid health insurance card. Basically something that states your place of residence in Japan, so for foreign tourists they may decline this request. Also, Tobanoe station (騰波ノ江) celebrated it's 88th birthday this weekend, so I paid them a visit after traveling the network. It was very small, but they did have a small N gauge layout and a respectable H0 layout that reflected the Jōsō line network. I also was asked to draw a picture on a glass that would be used for a candle for later that day. I didn't stay that long though, as we had to get up early in the morning and drive back to our place in Kanagawa. We exchanged business cards and had a little chat. It was a very warm and cosy event. Jōsō line: Ryūgasaki line: The Kantō Railway certainly has left a deep impression on me. Especially, the Jōsō line is a very interesting line, as it's halfway double tracked and fully dieselised with 3-door trains that remind of the commuter trains of the metropolitan lines. The reason this is like it is, is because the line runs through two different national electricity networks (or whatever it's called). Basically, it would be hugely expensive to electrify the line and buy rolling stock that can operate on both 1500V DC and 20kV AC 50Hz. The line also runs through rural areas only, so this would probably be a moot investment. At least for now. As the Tōkyō metropolitan area keeps expanding, I wouldn't be surprised to see this line being electrified within the next 30 years, or maybe even be connected to the Tsukuba Express for that matter... It's a fantasy though. It would certainly be beneficial to a lot of towns along the line to have a fast connection to Tōkyō methinks. You never know what the future might bring and what Keisei Group comes up with now! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the shoddy pictures and I hope the Kantō railway has also gained your hearts and minds a little bit. I will certainly travel this line again when I'm back in Shimodate!
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