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  1. Dec. 13- State Railways of Thailand (SRT) received 17 ex-JR Hokkaido kiha 183 units at the port of Laem Chabang. The intention is to refurbish these units for chartered tourist train service. ANN report:
  2. Filmed in 1972 but set on the Nayoro Main Line of 1935, this is a dramatization of a Class 9600 trying to climb the Tempoku Pass. This section existed between Kami-Okoppe and Ichinohashi, and had a maximum grade of 25 permil. According to the notes at the beginning of the video, engine 49672 was scrapped after filming. Seven hundred seventy of this type were built between 1913 and 1926. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, then called Kawasaki Zosenjo (shipbuilding), built the most by far, 686. The locomotive shown here was one of 73 from 1920. Following Kawasaki, Kisha Seizo built 69, and JGR Kokura Works built 15. The last of the type was retired at the beginning of March 1976. The video was posted by tyokutoku (https://www.youtube.com/user/tyokutoku/videos), have a look at his channel for more great historical films. Some pictures taken between 1970 and 1972 of Class 9600 locos used on this line: http://home.a00.itscom.net/yosan/jyoki/nayoro/nayoro.html
  3. JR Hokkaido will be loaning their C11 207 steam locomotive to Tobu Railway, which intends to run a tourist-oriented train on the Kinugawa Line. The service is planned to start in the FY 2017 season, running between Shimo Imaichi and Kinugawa Onsen Stations, a distance of 12.4km. This will be the first time in around 50 years that Tobu will run steam services. http://www.travelvision.jp/news-jpn/detail.php?id=68640
  4. On the Chitose Line. Ooops. I think it's this crossing: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/@42.9681577,141.566341,203m/data=!3m1!1e3
  5. Replacement for aging kiha 40 used on most rural lines. Will be based on the JR East GV-E400 but winterized for Hokkaido conditions. A pair of test prototypes will be introduced by February 2018, with a one year trial period thereon. JR Hokkaido press release: http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2017/170712-2.pdf
  6. A rare bird. JR Hokkaido's new MAYA35-1 track inspection car, built at Hitachi Kasado Works, should be arriving at Teine by Friday the 12th. Off the top of my head I don't recall the last track inspection vehicle built. It seems like it's been a while. http://railf.jp/news/2017/05/09/120000.html video by Ayokoi by Watanabe Yo at Kyoto Station by tobu8111f at Akita (gettin' there!) by Masaharu Aono https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xJEPp09_Og edit: additional vids
  7. JR Hokkaido's new KIHA285, from Higashi-Yodogawa to Ohmi-Shiotsu, courtesy of Masaharu Aono.
  8. Railfan Magazine News has an article about the third sector company that will take over JR Hokkaido's Esashi Line (the portion that JRH themselves didn't shut down, anyway). The English name will be South Hokkaido Railway Company, and the line will be renamed the Isaribi Line. The company's Japanese name will be Dōnan Isaribi Tetsudō. According to the Wikipedia article, they'll run 9 KIHA40s. I think all will be transferred from JRH, but only 2 will get the livery and interior treatment shown in the links below. They'll be nicknamed Nagamare. The livery is a very dark blue or violet color, like the night sky, and there's an outline of Mt. Hakodate's silhouette and the stars of the night sky. Below the silhouette there are yellow and orange dots representing town lights of southern Hokkaido as well as gyoka, lights used to lure fish during nighttime fishing. The interior will feature refurbished seats with headrests, and ekiben tables will be added made of south Hokkaido cedar. These cars will run on both chartered and regularly scheduled services. Tetsudo News: http://railf.jp/news/2016/02/05/140000.html English Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Hokkaido_Railway_Company Company homepage in Japanese: http://www.shr-isaribi.jp/ Company page with same rendering of exterior as well as an interior rendering: http://www.shr-isaribi.jp/info/622/
  9. Oigawa Railway has purchased four 14 series passenger cars to supplement its fleet for steam service. Two are SUHAFU 14s, numbers 502 and 557, while the other two are OHA 14s, numbers 511 and 513. Some or all of them were in the Hamanasu formation(s). These were transported by sea between Tomakomai and Nagoya, then by road to a siding near Shin-Kanaya. So, according to the blog linked below, there is no physical connection between JRC and Oigawa, or am I misunderstanding that? http://railf.jp/news/2016/06/10/160000.html http://railf.jp/news/2016/06/13/103000.html several images on RailKingJP's new blog: http://railking.jp/ride/report/2016/06/15/01-24/ further cool video
  10. Bit of old news from two weeks back, but it was revealed that the number of services on the Hokkaido Shinkansen will be set at 13 r/t a day. 10 round trips will be Tokyo - Shin Hakodate-Hokuto services, the remaining 3 r/t will be SHH-Sendai, SHH-Morioka, and SHH-Shin-Aomori. All Tokyo-SHH services and the SHH-Sendai service will be limited stop Hayabusa, while the SHH-Morioka and SHH-Shin-Aomori will be the frequent stop Hayate services. During holiday/special event periods, up to 4 additional r/t will be added to meet passenger demand. Currently, there are 10 r/t Hakucho/Super Hakucho ltd. express services between Hakodate and Aomori. Including the remaining night trains, approx. 4000 passengers are carried through the Seikan Tunnel daily. It is projected that number will increase to 6000/day with the introduction of shinkansen services. It is still unknown if the Tokyo-Shin Hakodate-Hokuto travel time will be under 4 hours, considered an important target, which would allow passengers from Tokyo departing before 8am to arrive in Hakodate around noontime. A more official announcement is scheduled for mid-September. *summarized from Hokkaido Shimbun print edition article 8/27/2015
  11. Well, got some pics of the last run of this overnight train. Already an hour before the train was to depart, a scrum of fans and TV camera crews were at the end of platform 4 at Sapporo Station. Wanting to avoid the tyro carnival, I caught a local train and got off at one of my favorite photo spots in the Sapporo area, Kami Nopporo Station. I estimate about 25~30 railfans and a smattering of general public with cameras were there. Helpfully there were periodic annoucements for railway staff (gyoumu renraku) informing the location of the train- it departed Sapporo one minute late and also passed Shiroishi Station one minute behind schedule. Somewhat thankfully it clouded up a bit before it passed through Kami Nopporo, lessening the harsh shadows as it was late afternoon with somewhat oblique side sunlight. Two DD51 lead: Rear of train. Please excuse the balding bobble head on the right, it was out of my control: As a bonus, several minutes later, a container freight passed through, led by rather smoky DF200-104:
  12. Hakodate Liner may be expanded to 6 car trains for peak period services. It appears JR Hokkaido is considering adding an additional 3 carriages to the originally planned 3 carriage Hakodate Liner shuttle services between Shin-Hakodate Hokuto and Hakodate, scheduled to start next spring. The additional carriages will require lengthening of a platform at Shin Hakodate Hokuto Station. Cited was the capacity of a Hokkaido Shinkansen H5 trainset at 731 passengers, while the capacity of a 3 carriage shuttle train would be 441 passengers. Doubling that number would ensure all could get a ride to Hakodate during heavy traffic periods. Business interests are welcoming the move. http://dd.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/area/donan/1-0151676.html Hokkaido Shinkansen terminal platforms may be located west of the main Sapporo Station platforms. It has come to light that JR Hokkaido is considering locating the platforms of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, scheduled for completion to Sapporo in 2030, approx. 300m west of the current station. Originally it was planned to build the shinkansen platforms at the current location of the (south side) #1 and #2 zairaisen tracks, and build a new zairaisen platform on the north side. However, doing so would result in traffic conflicts affecting up to 100 scheduled zairaisen services due to trains crossing over, so the option of building at the west location is being considered. However, having shinkansen platforms at that location would reduce greatly convenience for passengers, as they would be located far from subway and long distance bus connections. http://dd.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/economy/economy/1-0152629.html
  13. It was announced June 30 that the central government will provide additional aid to regional railways JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku, to help fund the replacement of aging rolling stock and rail maintenance. Between FY2016 and FY2018, 120 billion yen(~967 million USD) will be provided to JR Hokkaido in the form of grants and no-interest loans, and similarly 20 billion yen (~163 million USD) to JR Shikoku between FY2016~19. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/economy/20150630-OYT1T50085.html
  14. Well this evening I made my final ticket purchases for my journey down to the Kanto area for the summer holiday. B shindai on the express Hamanasu Sapporo to Aomori, and then Gran Class on the Hayabusa Shin Aomori to Tokyo. Total cost 39210 yen including the distance fare, but hey, it's the holidays, I think I deserve it.
  15. JR Hokkaido announced on Wednesday, June 10 that it is going to jointly develop a new DMU railcar design for cold region climates with JR East. The aim is to cut development and production costs. Features will be: -diesel electric drive -driving cabs on both ends, for single car, driver only operation -barrier free facilities i.e. wheelchair space and accessible toilets -air conditioning JR Hokkaido will order 100 units to replace the 140 aging kiha 40 DMU's currently in service. JR East will order 63 units. Two test units will be ready by 2017 for JR Hokkaido, with units entering in service in 2019. According to Nikkei, JR East will start using them earlier in revenue service in 2017. http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2015/150610-2.pdf http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDZ10HNY_Q5A610C1TI5000/
  16. On the 9th of this month, the president of JR East expressed a desire for the cruise train "Shikishima", scheduled to start running in the spring of 2017, to include forays into Hokkaido. The president stated that the destination would not just be Sapporo, but also other locations throughout the prefecture. Regarding the Cassiopeia sleeper train, he said the rolling stock was getting old, and that the aim was to replace it with this cruise train. The cruise train will operate out of its base at Ueno Station, where a luxury lounge will be built for passenger use before boarding. http://news.biglobe.ne.jp/domestic/0609/jj_150609_3760414530.html
  17. A run early this morning from Shin Aomori. First time for this train.
  18. JR Hokkaido Asahikawa Station is offering a two-day package tour featuring mileage on lines the 711 series has run over the past 40+ years. Oct. 5 will see a trainset in original JNR colors running Asahikawa to Otaru via Sapporo, and then down to Muroran. After an overnight stay in Muroran, the train will run to Sapporo and travel on the Sassho Line, and then reverse and return to Asahikawa on the Hakodate Main Line. As of the end of August, the number of 711 series workings has been cut in half, and total retirement is scheduled for this coming spring. https://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2014/140820-2.pdf
  19. Last week JR Hokkaido announced that this summer stainless-steel 733 series emus will be introduced on the airport kaisoku services running between Otaru and Shin-Chitose Airport. These will be 6 car formations, with 5 cars in all-longitudinal seating configuration and one car with reserved ticket airline-style seating ("U-seat"). The 733 series used for these services will be designated the 3000 subseries. Current 733 series units are run in 3 car formations, or in formations with other types as 6 cars. With the introduction of these units, the remaining 1960's era 711 series emus will be retired by the end of the fiscal year. http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2014/140514-1.pdf 733 series on the Chitose Line between Shimamatsu and Kita-Hiroshima: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFbqOVZbgbM Simultaneous arrival of two 733 series trains at Shiroishi (the one on the right is coupled with a 731 series):
  20. JR Hokkaido announced this week that three steam locomotive excursion services will cease at the end of this fiscal year. The services are the "SL Hakodate-Onuma", the "SL Niseko", and the "SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy". Reasons given for the cessation of these services are increased workloads for staff in improving systemwide safety, preparations for the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, and the expense of installing ATS with overspeed control on steam locomotives. Apparently the steam service running between Kushiro and Shibecha, the "SL Fuyushitsugen", will continue to run in season. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/hokkaido/news/20140710-OYTNT50006.html
  21. It was reported by the Hokkaido Shimbun last year that JR Hokkaido would be retiring the remaining 711 series emus by the March timetable revision, one year earlier than previously announced. However, that time has passed, and units are still running to date. A trip to Teine Station this evening confirmed this, with the usual 3+3 711 series on the 18:16 Teine-Iwamizawa stopper. Schedules posted on the station platforms and dated 3/15/2014 also still have notations for 711 series services. It appears the akaden still have a few months more operation, at least. Winter scenes of 711 series on the Sassho Line:
  22. This is a day or two old now, but JR Hokkaido President Nojima said to the MLIT committee of the upper house of the Diet (doing my best here, not really sure about this ) that JRH will buy 28 new express DMUs and 60 new commuter EMUs by 2016. These will replace some old cars as well as provide new capacity. It will be decided later exactly how many cars will be scrapped, and what lines/areas will get the new equipment. One specific thing mentioned is that some of the new cars will be 733s to replace the 48 711s in service, all of which are to be retired by the end of this year. http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/donai/507045.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/711_series
  23. I was away on holiday when media reports were made, but it seems fault is being placed with the personnel policy/ training of maintenance staff at JR Hokkaido with regards the spate of breakdowns/fires, mainly on diesel stock. I think it was either westfalen or Mark Newton who remarked that he thought that management policy w/ regards maintenance was the culprit, and that observation indeed appears precognizant. The article I read states that JR Hokkaido is first of all faced with unique problems w/ regards its diesel stock- older models (1/2 the roster is over 20 yrs. old) that are required to run at high speeds over long distances (service speeds and distances on ltd. express services which elsewhere in Japan are entrusted to electric stock). Also, winter conditions with expansion and contraction of metal surfaces and parts that imposes stress on them. But the biggest issue may be personnel. JR Hokkaido has relatively few experienced maintenance personnel in their 40's to 50's (about 1/5 of the total maintenance staff). Therefore there is a deficit of knowhow. Many maintenance tasks now need to be outsourced...Blame for this is placed on a reduction of hiring of personnel since the breakup of JNR and privatization. Currently JR Hokkaido is relying on the advice of "big brother" JR East to reform its maintenance regime. Nihon Keizai Shimbun article (Japanese): http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG0204F_S3A800C1CR8000/
  24. Here's an excellent video posted in the last 24 hours by TN5DMK2. This is a collection of video recorded between September 2012 and August 2013 featuring locomotives C57 1, C56 160, C11 227, C11 190, C12 66, C11 325, C10 8, C61 20, C57 180, C56 44, and C11 207. The lines are: JR West Yamaguchi Line, Mooka Railway, JR East Suigun, Shin'etsu Main, Ban'etsu West, and Narita Lines, Chichibu Railway, Oigawa Railway, and JR Hokkaido Hakodate Main Line. A really great collection of footage, nearly an hour long. All great looking locomotives, I like the proportions and drivers of C61 20 the most. Amongst the many good scenes is night video at Oigawa's Senzu Station around 23:30, and C61 20 motoring up the Shin'etsu Line's 25 permil grade between Matsuida and Yokokawa staring around 48:30. Apparently D51 498 (absent from this video) was pulled from this service at the last minute, and DD51 842 at the end of the train is pushing a bit to make it up the hill.
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