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JR West KIHA189 to make regular appearance on Biwako Express


miyakoji

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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 :grin.  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

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Why would they run a 189 Series DMU eastbound from Osaka (Umeda) Station all the way to Kusatsu? Wouldn't that be better served by running an extra 223 or 225 EMU from Osaka to Kusatsu instead?

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Why would they run a 189 Series DMU eastbound from Osaka (Umeda) Station all the way to Kusatsu? Wouldn't that be better served by running an extra 223 or 225 EMU from Osaka to Kusatsu instead?

Just because it's there, off the Hamakaze service.  I guess for this purpose it works out, and it's better than bringing a train out of the yard.

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The reason for this service is better use of rolling stock capital, and provides an additional "homeliner" like service for commuters who live in the bedroom towns of Shiga Prefecture.  As the Hamakaze has to run deadhead from Osaka to the Kyoto Rolling Stock depot, this allows that run to be a revenue run without consuming another pathing. Better to use this rolling stock on revenue runs (it's not very intensively used on its regular Hamakaze service), than to have it sitting earning nothing (and depreciating) in the depot.

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