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  1. Another collaboration between Taiwan's TRA and a Japanese private railway, in this case Tobu. A 200 series Ryomo trainset was given the wrapping treatment, the design inspired by TRA's TEMU 2000 Puyuma. Revenue service will begin this Friday. This trainset is planned to be used daily on two to three round trip services. Information of which Ryomo services will use this trainset will be released every Monday. At Kasukabe and Tobu Dobutsukoen Stations this Monday, on a test run: Article with many pictures: http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2016/06/14/328/
  2. Hello all, Last Sunday, I went on a little trip with two friends to visit an area that isn't covered much by rail fans, the Tōbu Ryōmō region. We left early in the morning from Asakusa with the Ltd. Express Ryōmō No. 3 (07:40). A train seemingly unmodified and still stuck in the era it was made in. The early 1990s. Bland colours, grey and faded bordeaux and brown tones dominated the interior. Not that I don't like it, but it was pretty old-fashioned and reminded of the end of the bubble-time. Very restrained and withholding from any extravaganza. The ride was smooth and fast. Ready for departure from Asakusa station. Note the gaps on the far end of the platforms. The Spacia trains even receive foot-bridges to cross the deep trench. The Ryōmō region is a rather strange and chaotic place that partially covers the Gunma and Tochigi prefectures and is mainly focused on large-scale agriculture and small manufacturing companies. The Tōbu lines that cover the region are partially built by Tōbu themselves (Isesaki line) and partially left-overs from mergers with local companies (Kiryū, Koizumi, Sano lines). As these lines are mostly used by school children, elderly and local factory workers, the occupancy is low. It looks like this region is used by Tōbu to dump its oldest rolling stock and have it run in very short formations. Dominant in the local services are the 2 and 3-car 8000 Series (more on them later), sometimes assisted by 6-car 10000 and 30000 Series that have through-services from Ōta and Tatebayashi to Asakusa. On the Kiryū line to Akagi, the hourly Ltd. Express Ryōmō runs with 6-car 200 and 250 Series trains. Two times per day, on the Sano line to Kuzū there is also a Ryomo service. One in the morning to Asakusa and one returning in the evening, much like the Ltd. Express Shimotsuke (4-car 350 Series) from Asakusa to Tōbu Utsunomiya As for the trip's report: Upon arrival in Akagi (赤城), the local immediately left in the opposite direction, leaving us stuck for an hour. We decided to walk back one station, to Aioi (相老) and try to snap a few shots of the Tōbu and Jyōmō Railway trains that run on the last stretch to Akagi station. We also managed to snap a Watarase Keikoku DMU pair. After that, we headed to Agata (県) station on the Isesaki line, which is in the middle of nowhere and took shots of the trains passing. The limited palette consisted of the local 8000 Series based 3-car trains and 6-car Ryōmō 200 and 250 types. The 8000 Series based 3-car trains are numbered as 800 and 850 Series, where the 800s have pantographs on the middle car and the 850s have pantographs on the front cars facing in the Asakusa direction. The 200 and 250 Series only differ in small details. The main difference is that the 250 is a one-off and powered with VVVF inverters. During this time we noticed that there were actually only a few trains running continuously, making lineside photgraphing not very interesting. We decided on focusing covering all lines, not expecting much excitement, as the Isesaki line's main interlocking stations were all newly built high stations (except Tatebayashi (館林)), which made photographing difficult and the atmosphere very bland and boring. The atmosphere of the Sano and Koizumi lines however was surprisingly relaxed and nice. Both of these lines definately have seen better times with intense freight traffic, especially when newly constructed, as they served war-purposes. Following are mixed pictures of the rest of our trip: I hope you liked my little report. It's not much, but it was a day well spent. I don't think I'll ever return to the Tōbu area there. Maybe only to ride the Watarase Keikoku and Ryōmō Railway, but that's probably better done with JR...
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