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Kabutoni

Tobu Ryomo Region

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Kabutoni

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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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...

Edited by Toni Babelony
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bikkuri bahn
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.

 

Agree.  At-grade stations are much better for photography, better atmosphere, and fewer obstructions.  Though the branches are good for a visit, I much prefer the main line action.  One thing about those junction stations on the branches, you have to wait a bit for the connections, which can be chilly in the winter months. See you got a pic of the 10000 series (local for Kuki?), that's one of my favorites (sound similar to the Tokyu 8500's).

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Kabutoni

Agree.  At-grade stations are much better for photography, better atmosphere, and fewer obstructions.  Though the branches are good for a visit, I much prefer the main line action.  One thing about those junction stations on the branches, you have to wait a bit for the connections, which can be chilly in the winter months. See you got a pic of the 10000 series (local for Kuki?), that's one of my favorites (sound similar to the Tokyu 8500's).

 

IMO, the Koizumi and Sano line are worth riding. The Isesaki line not so much, except for the last stretch.

 

I especially enjoyed the Koizumi line's operation pattern, since the line consists of two sections: Tatebayashi - Nishi-Koizumi (the 'main') and Higashi-Koizumi - Ōta (small branch with three stops). If it weren't for Ashikaga station on the Isesaki line, the Koizumi line would have been much more important. The Isesaki line would probably not even exist, come to think of it! Plus, it operates with true 8000 Series and not those weird 800/850s...

 

The 10000 Series is probably one of the most interesting commuter trains on the Tōbu network. It runs in all kinds of formations, has a variety of fronts, and varies a lot in electrical equipment which decide the motor sound. Although much hated by many, the most interesting looking commuter train of Tōbu is probably the 50000 Series and its equivalents. It's orange, loud and feels very cheaply made. I really should buy a model of it, just to upset my friends.

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bikkuri bahn

Ah, the 50000 series.  Have to admit disappointment is the emotion whenever one of these comes into view around a bend.  These standardised (in this case, the Hitachi A train design) "easy-order" trains seem to be dominating railway rosters more and more.  At least in Kansai, the railways have more individuality in design and less cheapo, "we designed this to be recycled easy" feel than Kanto stuff, though the influx at Nankai of Tokyu/J-TREC E233-derived clones is worrisome.

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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Kabutoni

Ah, the 50000 series.  Have to admit disappointment is the emotion whenever one of these comes into view around a bend.  These standardised (in this case, the Hitachi A train design) "easy-order" trains seem to be dominating railway rosters more and more.  At least in Kansai, the railways have more individuality in design and less cheapo, "we designed this to be recycled easy" feel than Kanto stuff, though the influx at Nankai of Tokyu/J-TREC E233-derived clones is worrisome.

 

I think the issue with the A-train concept and other modular train concepts is that there is a base model, which can be upgraded as long as you're willing to pay for it. IMO, the Tōkyō Metro 10000 Series (Hitachi A-Train based ) turned out pretty nice as a train to ride because of the interior design investment Tōkyō Metro made. The same goes for the Tsukuba Express' TX-1000 and TX-2000 Series, which aren't too bad either. Tōbu isn't really faring as well as TM or TX or they couldn't care less about comfort, so they decided to invest less in their 50000 Series. Still, I like the Tōbu 50000... It's at least not as godawful looking as the Seibu 20000 and 30000. xD

 

Also, the E233 Series and clones; pretty good. Very very worthy replacements for the 205 Series and the like, though they could have received a more interesting front design.

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bikkuri bahn

we seem to share common tastes in design :)

 

Indeed I like the Tokyo Metro 10000 among the A train designs, it feels a bit more high grade, and the cab front is unique enough to diffrentiate it from other designs (it's quite roomy too, I wonder if drivers like it for that). Bolster bogies too.  Ditto for the TX designs.

E233 is OK, actually I like their traction package sound.  It's more of the J-TREC car body sides and window placements I don't like for their ubiquity.  Please keep them within Kanto region/JR East.  At least the Tokai region doesn't risk infiltration as that's Nissya's backyard.  Nankai has a long relationship with Tokyu (Tokyu bought out carbuilder and Nankai supplier Teikoku Sharyo back in the sixties) so I guess that can't be helped.  I wonder what Kansai fans think of them (negatively, i reckon).

 

Seibu- ugh! Good 'ol Tokorozawa-built yellow trains anyday,  those new "smile" trains put a "frown" on my face. I call them "one eyed worms".

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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