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A Strange Sayonara


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Today I had a strange encounter with a German BR 181 already on the scrapyard. On my daily commuting, I pass the company "Bender" in Opladen (a known name to German railfans). Since a couple of days a train of 7 181s waits there for the torch.

The point is, one of them is 181 209 of which I have a model. It is a strange feeling to see its prototype waiting to die. So, today I took with me the small Roco box with the N size blue livery 181 209 (the real one has the worn red of the last years) to give its big twin a last salut while passing by. I'm sentimental, I know.


After my train passed I fell in deep thoughts. Scrap loco photos are a common view on German and British rail fansites. I don't remember much from Japan... I mean, there were lots of famous trains which are gone now and for sure were recycled. No last photos of them?




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Recently we had a lot of photos here on the forum of various electric locos and emus being dismantled. Most of them were taken far away and by peeking through gates and other gaps on the fences. It's very hard in Japan to take good photos of locations with no public access without breaking any laws.


On the other hand, last run photos are really common in Japan as these are held as events, and i'm sure most people like to remeber these trains while they were still running.

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It seems to be my fate that I just discover an engine that I like, and it gets scrapped within a year.


First that happened with the Meitetsu DeKi 600, and then the Seibu 31 series.  Fortunately I have two HO models of the former and four in N-scale (the entire fleet ;-) of the latter.


I suppose if I liked more recent equipment that wouldn't happen.


The contemporary train I most admire is the 253-1000, but then no one has made a model of it - come on MA, it's just your niche.

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Hmm yes, those scrap yards give off an eery vibe.

I recently passed  Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf. It's basically diesel death row now.



A little ray of hope in Berlin though.

Most of these Tatras are likely going to be cut up as well but a number of them will be shipped off to Alexandria/Egypt for a second life.


I just learned to appreciate them in recent years. I never really paid that much attention. Took them for granted. They just were always there. I grew up with them. From the initial versions to modernisation and now the end.


(all photos by me)

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I've seen a few, there seem to be a handful of bloggers that document local scrapings.  I found a bit when looking into the JNR experimental kiha 391 Gas Turbine set that was scraped a few years ago.  Sadly, I also saw that the second train I rode on in japan, kiha 66/67 4, was scraped a little bit ago.  Wish there was some way to get some pieces from it, but looks like it all went into the scrap bin.  Hopefully it's twins will last for a little longer yet, but the kiha 200s and and 220s seem to slowly be gaining ground throughout kyushu. 

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What surprises me is how fragmented preservation is in Japan. For example, looking at lists of preserved stock you could assemble a seven car 165/169 Series set and there's a lone Kumoni 83 at what I assume to be a test centre, so you could get close to one of the Alps sets as modelled by Kato recently. However, they're scattered all over Japan rather than kept as complete sets. There are also oddities like a 117 Series in three car form, which isn't a true representation of the type and certainly could never run again as it's missing a Moha 117. Compare UK where groups attempt to assemble complete units to run.

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What surprises me is how fragmented preservation is in Japan.

There isn't much preservation going on as trains are mostly preserved as static exhibits and only a few steam locomotives are kept running as museum/tourist trains. Anything newer than that and it will probably be cut up before it's old enough to be preserved. Actually even museum stock is cut up if there is a lack of display space for it. Steam locomotives could survive long enough as there is not much that could break on them with no maintenance for decades and there were enough of them that statistically a few could survive into preservation. But there are a lot of them that were statically exhibited a few years ago (and visible on street view) and are now gone without a trace. Imho destorying what is old but not ancient seems to be a tradition in Japan. The sideeffect is that this creates a gap between ancient preserved things and modern life, since not much remains from the recent past. There are some attempts to change this, but with not much success.


A good example would be what happens with the last 583 series trainset that made a last run recently. It was fully operational and intact with a soon to be expired license. Currently at most 4 cars are preserved from this type, all trailers, while the last run set had 4 operational motor cars and 2 control trailers.

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Yep, I notice how many cab cars are listed as preserved compared to how few intermediate cars. There doesn't seem to be any thought of trying to save one of each type so that a running set could be reassembled at some point in the future.

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