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  1. On October 31st, the first 12000 series EMU for the Semboku Rapid Railway was delivered. It is very much derived from the Nankai 12000 series and will be used on limited express through-services between the Nankai Koya Line and the Semboku Rapid Railway Line. The Semboku 12000 series is scheduled to be in service from February 2017, and will probably replace the Nankai 11000 series on the aforementioned through-services. Japanese article: http://railf.jp/news/2016/11/02/180000.html A few pics: https://twitter.com/Express_kh/status/792889494445838336 https://twitter.com/Express_kh/status/793688605373767682
  2. Here's a very interesting video, estimated by the uploader to be 1987, soon after the privatization of JNR. This is a ride on an 8-car formation of 12 series coaches behind DD51 1190 between Kyoto and Umahori. There's a lot of interesting things to be seen; the old San'in platforms at the old Kyoto Station with an escape track(?), sidings and trackside structures that no longer exist, the original Nijo station building, the section between Saga Arashiyama and Umahori that still uses what's now the Sagano Scenic Railway, and some views of the construction of the tunnels that bypass it. The uploader is 旅一郎, perhaps Tabitaro based on his blog URL http://ameblo.jp/tabitaro1234/ although I had guessed Tabi Ichiro. His YT channel has several other mid/late '80s era videos, check 'em out.
  3. Today, 20 December, it was officially announced that the Hokuriku Shinkansen will be extended from Tsuruga via Obama to Kyoto. This route was one of the final two options left, the other one being the line being extended from Tsuruga to Maibara, which would have meant that passengers for Kyoto and Osaka would have had to change at Maibara. That would have led to a longer travel time, inconvenient transfers, and even more crowded Tokaido Shinkansen trains than they are already now. The Obama - Kyoto route is however the most expensive option. During the next 5-6 years, the impact on the environment and the exact locations of the stations will be decided. The Kanazawa - Tsuruga section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen will be opened in 2022, and the aim is to have completed the whole line to Kyoto in ultimately 2046. However, there have been calls to bring this date forward, which could lead to the total costs exceeding 2 trillion yen. Sources: http://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2016122000735&g=eco http://mainichi.jp/articles/20161221/k00/00m/020/117000c http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye2942316.htm
  4. Was flipping through the channels last night, and stopped at the variety program "kenmin show", which highlights unique aspects of each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. I usually wouldn't bother to pay much attention, but the theme was Osaka, and specifically the characteristics of the railways there, particularly Hankyu. Two little trivia factoids came out: 1. at one time, Hankyu was thinking of changing their rolling stock colors (probably to seem more "up to date" or "modern"), but community opposition from people living along the line(s)* quashed that. For that we are thankful, as Hankyu has kept their classic maroon livery. I shudder at the thought of unpainted stainless steel stock running on Hankyu.(other than the subway run-through services). 2. Hankyu's rolling stock is known for its spotlessness, and higher than the usual standard for comfort in commuter stock. Particularly, the plush, heavily cushioned olive green seating on trains is made of felt fashioned from Turkish Angora goats. *likely places like Ashiya, with high real estate values, where the maroon color of Hankyu trains is symbolic of the cachet of living in a chichi neighborhood.
  5. Happy 2016 everyone! Old news now, but Kyoto Tango Railway, known as Kitakinki Tango Railway before the operational takeover by Willer Bus, has refurbished one of its KTR8000 series express DMU sets with styling by the one and only Mitooka Eiji. This follows the refurb of 4 (I think) of the KTR700 local DMUs. Service began November 13th. Includes the Alfa Romeo style grill/emblem/ornament from DF200-7000 (btw off topic but did anyone else know that JR Kyushu numbered this thing 7000 not 7001?) http://trains.willer.co.jp/index.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwomLGBjpnA
  6. Two 4-car formations of the 225 series 100 subseries left the Kinki factory on February 23rd for Aboshi Depot. The cab facade has the same appearance as the 227 series, the 3rd generation 521 series, and the upcoming 323 series, although the exterior displays above the gangway doors and windshields are full color (I think). I'm sure it's got various improvements, but I feel JRW peaked with the 223 http://railf.jp/news/2016/02/24/170000.html
  7. Just noticed this on Ompuchaneru. Hankai Tramway will end service on the Uemachi Line's south end between Sumiyoshi and Sumiyoshikoen on January 30, 2016. Apparently this section of track is almost 60 years old and the crossing with the main line is aging, and it'll cost a lot to bring it up to standard. This section first opened in 1913 as part of Nankai. Hankai's pdf on the matter: http://www.hankai.co.jp/_wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/648df35ad70a218c95acb246eda4bfb1.pdf previous discussion: http://www.jnsforum.com/community/topic/8866-hankai-sumiyoshi-station-s-decline Full line ride starting at Sumiyoshikoen. It crosses the Hankai Line at 2:45. Station atmosphere is cool, but the advertisement on the side of the car is for a pawn shop, and there's a pachinko parlor straight out of the station. Ah, Osaka.
  8. This looks interesting, a version of Monopoly with familiar places and companies replaced with... well it's hard to see, but it's got to do with Osaka :) http://railf.jp/news/2015/11/27/000000.html http://www.westjr.co.jp/press/article/2015/11/page_7960.html
  9. This was posted on the FB Japanese Trains group. Nankai is elevating this section of the line, so a new station will be built. This whole building will be moved from its present location and preserved, or rather it will just continue to be used and maintained, as a community center. This is the right way to preserve history, as opposed to letting it deteriorate for a few decades and then saying "hey guys, we should really preserve x/y/z for blah" by which point it needs loads of money to restore to anything worth looking at. The nearby Hankai station is Hamaderakoen Ekimae Eki. "Ekimae eki" being the station in front of the station. So if this moves between its current location and Hamaderakoen Ekimae Eki, does Hamaderakoen Ekimae Eki then have to become Hamaderakoen Ekimae Ekimae Eki? Food for thought http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601280044 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamaderak%C5%8Den_Station https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFpz2PBZL1A
  10. JR500, you need this: https://twitter.com/R_esculenta/status/668710688739557377 According to the tweet, he built them himself. Excellent work. I think the event was the Surutto Kansai Bus Matsuri: http://www.surutto.com/bus/ https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%B9%E3%83%AB%E3%83%83%E3%81%A8KANSAI%E3%83%90%E3%82%B9%E3%81%BE%E3%81%A4%E3%82%8A Looks like it's held mid- to late-September every year, with 27 companies participating in 2015. Attendance isn't indicated, but it's been significant for previous years. How is it that a bus festival can draw 30,000 people? What makes Japan a society that's not just willing to use public transit, but is in some ways enthusiastic about it?
  11. In preparation for the special Twilight Express San'in Course service to be operated from July 25th, a 4-car formation of 24 series passenger cars was tested in western Honshu. The route passed through Okayama, north to Yonago via the Hakubi Line, west to the end of the San'in Main Line at Shimonoseki, then back to Miyahara Depot in Osaka via the San'yo Main Line. Motive power was EF65 1133 and DD51 1191. Hobidas News: http://rail.hobidas.com/rmn/archives/2015/07/jrdd51244.html JR West: http://www.jr-odekake.net/navi/kankou/twilight_plan/#train03 Sankei news on future Twilight Express Mizukaze w/ route map: http://www.sankei.com/west/news/150618/wst1506180091-n1.html On the Kobe Line (Tokaido/San'yo Lines between Osaka and Himeji) by k arata
  12. Two 4-car sets of Nankai's new 8300 series were delivered from Kinki Sharyo on the 29th, the first time in about 40 years the manufacturer has built anything for this railway. Every Nankai train I've ever been aware of was built by Tokyu/J-Trec. After leaving Kinki behind DE10 1192 via the connection at Tokuan, the formation was pulled to Suita Freight Terminal. From there, DD51 1191 took it down the Umeda freight bypass to the west side of the loop around Nishi-Kujo, on to Tennoji, and apparently east to Oji. I assume they continued south via the Wakayama Line. Maybe the Hanwa Line is a little too busy for this less-than-shinkansen speed move :). Interchange between JR West and Nankai is all the way down at Wakayama-shi, which can been seen in the second video below. http://railf.jp/news/2015/06/30/120000.html crossing the Kanzaki River Bridge on the Joto Freight Line, by hankyudensha at Wakayama-shi Station, by jnrkiiline. Cool lineup from 5'00", but we don't see the DD51 depart...
  13. replete with video. yikes http://www.2427junction.com/mmrrbej81.html
  14. JR West is converting 683-2000 series trains to DC-only and calling them 289 series. It's not clear based on the two links below whether the AC capability was just locked out, or if hardware was removed. These are surplus to requirements after the March timetable revision, which must have been fairly dramatic as the 289 series will apparently be 85 cars total when everything is converted. JRW got only 27 cars from Hokuetsu if I understand it correctly, so it's not just because of that. These will replace all 381 series at Suita and Fukuchiyama depots, and be used on Hashidate, Kinosaki, Kounotori, and Kuroshio services. http://railf.jp/news/2015/05/28/160000.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/289_series http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2015/04/28/381/ Red stripe a la 287 series, and new number plate:
  15. NHK was running a news item a day or two ago about the referendum on the Osaka-to plan being voted down by a slim margin. There was also some mention of the plan to privatize the subway. Will this still go ahead? It was said that the system has been running in the black for a few years now. If it were to be sold, would the sale price be enough to pay off existing construction (et cetera) debts? Or would there be other consideration to cover this? Or would the taxpayer be on the hook, while still paying fares, while the new owner makes bank? :(
  16. This isn't very new anymore, but I don't recall seeing anything about it... JR West introduced alphabetic line designations for the Kinki and Chugoku regions some time around August 2014. It was asked in an Ompuchaneru thread (http://rail-uploader.khz-net.com/index.php?id=37062) why there's a "Q" on the destination board of a Namba-bound rapid on the Yamatoji Line. The answer is that the Yamatoji Line (aka Kansai Main Line from Nara to JR Namba) is the Q Line. Apparently this is to help foreigners. JR West page with some graphics: https://www.westjr.co.jp/press/article/2014/08/page_5993.html I could really do with some higher-resolution versions of those images :)
  17. Here's an interesting one. I searched for an article with pictures of the distillery itself, but no luck. I assume it's the one along Tokaido Main Line (aka Kyoto Line) near Yamazaki Station, but I don't see any confirmation. Oddly, the articles I read don't have detailed information about the regions railway operations. I'll have to write to the editors :) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/04/suntory-time-japanese-whisky-named-worlds-best-in-sour-dram-for-scotland
  18. This week's episode of Seasoning the Seasons (recommended) on NHK World was about a temple/neighborhood in Osaka called Hozenji, not far from Nankai Namba Station. I had a look at the Google map of the area, and when changing to streetview, I noticed these orange spots on the map. Pegman can be moved to them, just like the blue lines, but these are interiors; in this case, many of them are restaurants. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:34.667858,135.502628&hl=en&ll=34.66798,135.503115&spn=0.002001,0.002894&t=m&z=19
  19. In JR West's March 15th schedule revision there's an interesting change. KIHA189 series DMUs, built in the last few years to replace the JNR-era 181s used on Hamakaze services, will be assigned to a Biwako Express run on weeknights, departing Osaka at 8:36PM and arriving at its destination, Kusatsu, at 9:27PM. After initially thinking what the !@#$, I assumed this train was coming off a Hamakaze run that conveniently puts it at Osaka to operate this service. The second poster in the Ompuchaneru thread writes just that, it arrives at Osaka as Hamakaze #6. It still seems quite strange for a DMU to be used on a service that's in an entirely electrified section, and a later poster writes that the only others are some JR Shikoku limited express services on the Yosan Line. Also in the thread (http://rail-uploader.khz-net.com/index.php?id=1128280), a poster bemoans JR West's schedule changes. It used to become gradually more convenient, now it gradually becomes more inconvenient . Another replies that it's got to do with Japan's population changes. JR West's pdf: http://www.westjr.co.jp/press/article/items/131220_00_kinki.pdf
  20. Here's another great upload by HINTEL1824TRAIN. This is a zenmen tenbou video of a ride on Semboku 7000 series rolling stock from Nankai Namba, just slightly south-east from JR West's JR Namba (formerly Minatomachi Station), to Izumi-Chūō. Nankai Namba is elevated, while the ground-level Minatomachi was undergrounded when rebuilt as JR Namba. This service operates as a rapid until Mozu where the change to Semboku's line happens, and then stops at all stations to the end of the line. The English Wikipedia page on Semboku has some interesting information; this line was meant to be planned, constructed, and operated by Nankai to serve the Semboku New Town development, but they had some accidents in the late '60s. The government forced them to buy new trains and infrastructure, so they were low on funds and were slow in developing this line. So Osaka prefecture developed the line through Osaka Prefectural Urban Development Company. The rolling stock resembles JR West's 223 series, although I don't see anything about design commonalities. These are built by Kawasaki, who build some of JRW's rolling stock including the 223s. http://maps.google.com/?ll=34.553084,135.51286&spn=0.015251,0.022316&t=m&z=16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osaka_Prefectural_Urban_Development http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semboku_Rapid_Railway http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namba_Station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senboku_New_Town http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A4%A7%E9%98%AA%E5%BA%9C%E9%83%BD%E5%B8%82%E9%96%8B%E7%99%BA7000%E7%B3%BB%E9%9B%BB%E8%BB%8A
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