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Old June 5th, 2011, 09:45 PM   #841
quashlo
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Restored C61 20 steam locomotive enters service

On 2011.06.04, JR East operated restored steam locomotive C61 20 in regular service for the first time in 38 years, between Takasaki and Minakami on the Jōetsu Line. Manufactured in 1949, the locomotive was assigned to the Aomori division on the Hatsukari and other Tōhoku-area trains, through areas recently devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. It was decommissioned in 1973 and afterwards put on display inside Kezōji Park in Isesaki City, but in an effort to preserve a valuable piece of Japanese railroading, JR East painstakingly took apart the unit piece-by-piece at its Ōmiya facility starting in 2010 and has brought it back into running condition. Some clips from the first day (2011.06.04):

On the Jōetsu Line deep in Gunma Prefecture, first between Kamimoku and Minakami, and then departing Minakami, with six historic preserved passenger cars (manufactured between December 1938 and April 1955) in tow:


Source: ONGAKUKANblog on YouTube

Scenes at Minakami, including coupling:


Source: karibajct on YouTube

Between Ino and Shin-Maebashi:


Source: ebajirou on YouTube

Last edited by quashlo; June 5th, 2011 at 10:52 PM.
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Old June 8th, 2011, 11:10 PM   #842
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k.k.jetcar View Post
Yes, because the 130km/h limit is not equipment constrained, but rather due to the requirement that trains be able to stop within a 600m distance, due to grade crossings.
Does it mean that the speed limit varies with the quality of brakes being 120 km/h on some zairaisen trains, 140 km/h on others etc.?
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Old June 9th, 2011, 05:23 AM   #843
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No, rather what I mean is that most limited express rolling stock can run faster than 130 km/h, but with current brake technology, and just plain physics and passenger comfort and safety in mind, 130km/h running with 600m braking distance is the limit set by the government. If there is complete grade separation, and a flat line profile, there can be 160km/h running on 1067mm track (i.e. Hokuetsu Rlwy. 681 series on the tunnel-rich Hokuhoku Line). The general policy of railway operation in Japan is collision avoidance, rather than collision mitigation.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 09:00 AM   #844
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JR East E657 series unveiled

On 2011.06.13, JR East invited members of the press to Katsuta Rolling Stock Center in Hitachi Naka City, Ibaraki Prefecture to see the first unit of the new E657 series to be introduced onto Jōban Line limited express services. These trains will replace the 651 series and E653 series currently used on Super Hitachi and Fresh Hitachi services.

The first units will enter service in spring 2012 between Ueno and Iwaki on the Jōban Line. Formation is 10 cars, 6M4T. In addition to full-active suspension on end cars and the green car, there are also dampers in the joint sections between cars, improving ride comfort. Maximum speed is 130 km/h. Each unit has redundant security equipment to improve reliability and recovery after equipment failure. Capacity is 600 seats (30 green car seats and 570 standard seats), with 16 units (160 cars total) scheduled for introduction.

Some pics:
Source: http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/

Unit K1, Car No. 1 (Ueno end car). The white is actually slightly reddish, making for a “white plum blossom, red plum blossom” paint scheme together with the thick red strokes beneath the windows. The undersides of the train feature a purplish gray.



Alongside other Jōban Line regulars:
(Left) E653 series, a limited express train
(Center) E531 series, an outer-suburban commuter EMU



Car No. 5, a saro (green car, trailer). The green car moquettes feature a plum blossom pattern, while the lighting is a warm yellow.



Standard seating. The seat pitch is 960 mm, an increase of 50 mm compared to existing E653 series. Lighting is white. Cars also feature static electricity-absorbent air purifiers and ozone deodorizers. Air conditioning has separate vents for each seat, so each passenger can control the direction and force of the air. In order to attract business users, seats also feature large tables for laptops, power outlets, and WiMAX broadband coverage.



Car No. 5, multi-purpose room (left) and food preparation room (right).



Car No. 5, wheelchair-accessible restroom.



Dashboard design has been kept mostly uniform with existing stock to reduce operator confusion.

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Old June 17th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #845
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JR Kyūshū’s Asō Boy enters service

On 2011.06.04, JR Kyūshū’s new Asō Boy tourist limited express began service on the Hōhi Main Line between Kumamoto and Miyaji. This is a remodeled four-car Kiha 183-1000 set, formerly used on the Yufu DX limited express. Design is by Mitooka Eiji, with the renovation carried out by JR Kyūshū at its Kokura Works.

Some pics:
Source: http://rail.hobidas.com/blog/natori/

Commemorative ceremony at Kumamoto Station, with twin black dogs—representing the mascot of the train—serving as honorary stationmasters for the day.



Kiha 183-1001. The end cars are “panorama-style”, with the cab up high, allowing open views from the very nose of the train. Paint scheme is two-tone black and white, matching the mascot dog Kuro-chan, whose image can be found all throughout the inside and outside of the train.



The “panorama seats” beneath the operator’s cab are a common space for all passengers. Moquettes are bright and colorful, and caricatures of Kuro-chan decorate the interior. Special flooring has been installed all inside the train, also contributing to a unique passenger experience.



In Car No. 1 is the “Kuro Café”, a small concession counter for snacks. You can tell a lot of effort was put into designing each and every car in the train… No two cars look alike, but there is still a unifying theme that should appeal to parents and children.



Car No. 3 is the all-white “Family Car.” Beyond the wood-pellet play pool at bottom are the “Kuro-chan seats”, uniquely-designed parent-and-child pair seating.





This car also includes a small play room (left) and a picture book area (right).



Standard seating in Car No. 4



Standard seating in Car No. 2



Deck area of Car No. 2



Car No. 2 also features this compartment-style common space.



With the start of service of the Asō Boy, JR Kyūshū also renovated Asō Station.



A video tour during one of the open hourses at Hakata Station (2011.05.29):


Source: Tsurayuki100sei on YouTube

Overall, some really awesome designs in this latest train produced by Mitooka…
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Old June 20th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #846
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Shinkansen quake survivability key selling point
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-b...0110616f1.html

Quote:
By DAISUKE YAMAMOTO
Kyodo

Japan may have found a silver lining in the March earthquake, seeking to sell bullet trains abroad, as the high-speed train system proved resilient against the powerful 9.0-magnitude temblor of March 11.

Shinkansen have long been synonymous with safety. But experts and government officials say safety alone is not enough to market the trains, saying more is needed, including flexibility that caters to local needs, to compete with European countries and emerging Asian rivals.

When the massive quake struck the northeast, 27 bullet trains, including a model that can hit speeds of 275 kph, were traveling in the Tohoku region.

All that were hauling passengers stopped without a derailment or injuries as a quake detection system triggered emergency brakes on the trains 9 to 12 seconds before the main earthquake struck.

Some officials argue that railways have taken on added importance for the country because the other pillar of its infrastructure exports, atomic power plants, has suffered a severe setback due to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis.

"The government is ready and willing to work hand in hand with Japanese companies in promoting shinkansen abroad," said Seiichiro Yoshioka, deputy head of the transport ministry's Office of Global Strategy for Railways Development.

Figures back up the eagerness shown for railway exports. An October 2010 report by the Association of the European Rail Industry estimated the world's rail market at €136 billion (¥14.3 trillion) annually. That is more than the estimated €80 billion (¥8.4 trillion) for the comparable aviation market.

The train market is projected to grow between 2 and 2.5 percent annually until 2016, with many countries, principally the United States, but also Brazil, India and Vietnam, planning to build high-speed lines.

Japanese companies, some facing severe shortfalls in domestic public works projects and others having a tough time abroad with consumer electronics and automobiles, are eager to tap the rail market.

In California, a consortium of Japanese companies, including East Japan Railway Co., operator of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., a major railcar manufacturer, has registered its interest in the state's proposed high-speed rail project.

But the group faces tough competition with not only rivals from France and Germany — established players in high-speed rail — but also fledgling entries into the market, including firms from China and South Korea, which boast low costs.

Japan says in promoting its shinkansen that the cars are wider-bodied and lighter than its European rivals — France's TGV, for example — and require smaller tunnels due to their air tightness, which reduces costs.

But difficulties lie in the different approaches to collision prevention between Japan, and European countries and the U.S., the officials and experts say.

In Japan, shinkansen run exclusively on dedicated tracks, often elevated sections that stretch over many kilometers without crossings. But in Europe and elsewhere, high-speed trains also run on the same tracks used by heavier and slower freight trains, with grade crossings adding to the risk. Japanese companies have also been slow to commit to meeting calls by local hosts for the construction of train manufacturing and maintenance plants that create jobs.

Takeshi Fukayama, a senior consultant and expert in railway development at Mitsubishi Research Institute, urges the government to do more to help in marketing shinkansen.
The train that derailed approaching Sendai is believed to have already slowed to less than 70 km/h before the shaking arrived thanks to the emergency braking initiated by the earthquake detection system. Only one bogie (four wheels) on one car (Car No. 4) of the 10-car set derailed, and the Transport Safety Committee says it was likely caused by a “rocking” effect, with the vibration being amplified as a result of the viaduct structure and differences in materials.
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/ne...OYT1T01389.htm
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Old June 20th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #847
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JR West to install anti-derailment guards on the San’yō Shinkansen
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/economy/new...8440003-n1.htm

Quote:
On June 15, JR West announced anti-earthquake measures for the San’yō Shinkansen. The railway revealed plans to install anti-derailment guards to prevent large-scale derailments of trains between Shin-Ōsaka and Himeji as a result of earthquakes.

In the Chūetsu Earthquake in Niigata Prefecture in October 2004, eight out of ten cars on a Jōetsu Shinkansen train traveling at approx. 200 km/h derailed. In the Great East Japan Earthquake, one car on a deadheading Tōhoku Shinkansen train (ten cars) derailed, pushing JR West to move forward with anti-earthquake measures.

According to JR West, the anti-derailment guards are made of steel, and approx. 50 cm in width, placed between the rails. Even if a train derails as a result of an earthquake, the cars catch on the anti-derailment guard, preventing a major train derailment.

Within the full length of the San’yō Shinkansen, the Shin-Ōsaka – Himeji section is believed to be particularly at high risk to suffer an earthquake capable of causing derailment, and JR West will move forward with installation starting this fiscal year until the end of FY2015.

In order to quickly detect earthquakes and stop trains, the railway will also carry out improvement works to its earthquake early detection and warning system installed at ten locations along the coastline of western Japan. The railway will upgrade the system, currently only capable of detecting P-waves (preliminary tremors), to allow for detection of S-waves (primary motion).

The anti-derailment guards to be installed between rails on the San’yō Shinkansen.
The guards will be installed on 114 km (70%) of the 166 km Shin-Ōsaka – Himeji section. JR West has already completed seismic reinforcement of 340 of 1,800 viaduct columns needing reinforcement, and will complete the rest by FY2017. They are also considering installing anti-derailment guards all the way down to Hakata in the future.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #848
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Hitachi railway systems business strategy update: Part 1

On 2011.06.16, Hitachi released a slew of presentations on its business growth strategies in order to achieve the goals set forth in its 2012 Mid-term Management Plan. The presentations covers eight of the company’s core businesses, including railway systems.

Here’s some of the more interesting excerpts from their railway systems business strategy:

Their 2015 target is to grow revenues to 250% of 2010 levels and substantially increase their profitability.







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Old June 24th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #849
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Hitachi railway systems business strategy update: Part 2

Overseas business strategy is focused on three markets for the time being: U.K., China, and Southeast Asia / Brazil / India



Efforts in the UK market are focused on rolling stock / maintenance projects, including the Class 395 and the IEP.





Efforts in the Chinese market include electrical equipment for CRH380C, CRH7, and urban rail systems, as well as implementations of CTCS for intercity railways and CBTC for urban railways.



Local production through JV by expanding Xian plant and constructing new plant in Changchun



Strategy for emerging markets

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Old June 28th, 2011, 12:19 AM   #850
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Sumitomo Metal to acquire U.S.’s Standard Steel
http://www.sumitomometals.co.jp/e/pr...011-06-27.html

Quote:
Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. (“Sumitomo Metals”) and Sumitomo Corporation have agreed to acquire Steel Wheel Acquisition Corporation (“SWAC”), the parent company of Standard Steel, Inc. (“Standard Steel”) in the United States.

Standard Steel is one of North America’s leading manufacturers of railway wheels and axles with a history of over 200 years. Sumitomo Metals is one of the world’s top manufacturers of railway wheels and axles, with a strong focus on the Japanese market. With its commitment to, and focus on, safety and unceasing technical innovation, Sumitomo Metals’ high-speed railway wheels have been supplied to Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train as well as the Intercity-Express (ICE) trains in Germany and have been a highly respected supplier of wheels for these and other applications.

The acquisition of SWAC is being implemented as part of Sumitomo Metals’ strategy to expand into overseas growth markets with overseas production bases and concurrently to continue to strengthen its core domestic manufacturing bases (*1). After this acquisition, we plan to raise our presence in North America and then to expand into Europe, Asia, and other areas.

Following the completion of the acquisition, Sumitomo Metals plans to transfer certain technology, such as its proprietary SIRD pressing facility (*2), a rotary forging press for wheels, and its ultra clean steel technology, to Standard Steel. The aim of this is to enhance its global competitiveness in the manufacture and sale of railway wheels, including wheels used for locomotives and passenger trains, including high-speed rail. Moreover, both companies aim to enhance their customer services.

In recent years, global demand for railways has grown as it is increasingly viewed as a convenient and eco-friendly means of transportation, and market demand for technological advances and quality improvement in areas such as reliability and safety, high speed, low vibration, and low noise have risen correspondingly. We believe that technology transfer and cooperation between Sumitomo Metals and Standard Steel will make us more globally competitive in terms of quality, technology, and product line-up. The presence of manufacturing bases on both sides of the Pacific will also make Sumitomo Metals more diversified and thus more reliable as a supplier to customers, even in the case of crises.

In pursuing this transaction, Sumitomo Metals is determined to become a truly global railway wheel manufacturers with particular strength in the high-grade, high-speed segment. We will continue to help contribute to the global development of railways.

*1) An example of strengthening manufacturing bases in Japan:
Sumitomo Metals has decided to introduce a new high-precision machining lathes for railway wheels at its Osaka sites in April 2012. This will make us better prepared to contribute to the development of higher-speed Shinkansen in Japan and to satisfy requirements for railway wheel standards around the world.
Amount of investment: Approximately 1 billion
Processing capacity: 13,000 railway wheels/year

*2) SIRD press:
SIRD is an acronym for Sumitomo Inclined Rotary Dishing. This is Sumitomo Metals’ proprietary rotary forging press, which enables products to be manufactured with better quality and higher precision than conventional ones.



Overview of the acquisition
Acquisition price: Approximately US$340 million
Shareholder structure after acquisition: Sumitomo Metals 90%; Sumitomo Corporation 10%
Date of acquisition: Anticipated to be completed before year end

Profile of Standard Steel
Corporate name: Standard Steel, LLC
Location: Head office: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; Plant: Burnham, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Establishment: 1795
Sales: $209 million (2010)
Number of employees: 620 (as of February 2011)
Business activities: Manufacture and sale of railway wheels and axles
Major customers: Class I railroads, Freight railcar builder, Railcar & locomotive maintenance shops, Regional transit authorities
Manufacturing capacity: Approximately 300,000 railway wheels/year


Plant of Standard Steel in Burnham
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Old June 29th, 2011, 03:42 PM   #851
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re. Hitachi railway systems business strategy update

Somebody at Hitachi has a sense of humor, slipping that picture of a smoky "existing high speed train" in the powerpoint presentation.

(Valenta-engined HSTs were well known for emitting profuse amounts of cloudlike smoke when maintenance fell behind optimal levels. With MTU replacement, I think the problem is not as prevalent)
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 11:19 AM   #852
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Hitachi will bid for UK’s HS2 train contract
http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/new...rain_contract/

Quote:
HITACHI has unveiled plans to win a second contract for its North-East train-building factory – securing its future for at least 20 years.

The company will bid to design and maintain the fleet that will run on the planned £34bn high-speed line (HS2) between London and Birmingham and, eventually, the North.

The trains would be built at the factory to open next year in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, creating 500 jobs, plus thousands more in manufacturing and service supply chains.

The work is likely to start at the end of the decade – just as the contract for the £4.5bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is winding down.

Hitachi would either deliver a newer version of the Class 395 trains, which run between the capital and the Channel Tunnel, or build a new train – a four-year project, for delivery in 2025.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson hailed the decision, and said: “This shows Hitachi’s longterm commitment to the UK and the North-East.

“Hitachi is well-placed to build the high-speed trains because of the practical expertise in this area. The fact Hitachi would also transfer key skills, knowledge and technology to the North-East further proves the confidence they have in our workforce.”

Transport Secretary Phil Hammond gave the Hitachi bid an immediate boost.

He said: “I have already said that I hope the trains for our proposed high-speed rail network will be built in this country.

“Clearly, the factory at Newton Aycliffe would be in a good position to challenge for the contract.”

The bid for HS2 was revealed by Alistair Dormer, Agility’s chief executive, in an email to Mr Wilson.

He wrote: “Hitachi has more than 40 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of high-speed trains, including the world famous bullet train, for both Japan and other markets in Asia.

“The Hitachi Javelin trains are the fastest trains in Britain and we have the experience of operating on HS1, delivering exceptional levels of reliability and passenger satisfaction.”

Mr Hammond has vowed to force through the HS2 project in the face of growing opposition from Conservative voters along the route, particularly in the Chilterns, Buckinghamshire.

Under IEP, the Hitachi-led Agility consortium will deliver at least 530 rail carriages, bringing faster, more reliable journeys – and 11,000 extra seats – on key inter-city routes.

The factory – dubbed the new Nissan – will open in 2013, reaching full capacity in 2014.

The first “bi-mode”, diesel and electric trains will be delivered three years later, with all 100 on stream by 2019.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 11:20 AM   #853
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Recent E5 Hayabusa clips

Despite the earthquake and tsunami, seat utilization has been high on the Hayabusa ever since service on the Tōhoku Shinkansen was reinstated on 2011.04.29, and JR East ran additional Hayabusa trains in June to help cope with ridership demand. The GranClass in particular appears to be especially popular, and has been consistently full. Here’s some recent clips of the E5s:

First, some night scenes at Tōkyō Station (2011.05.01). People walking up and taking pictures beside the train and the crew frantically cleaning and restocking the train. Lots of curious eyes peering into the GranClass car (Car No. 10).


Source: satoshisan6395 on YouTube

From the mist, passing Nasu–Shiobara:


Source: 113icecream on YouTube

Arriving at some station, somewhere:


Source: TUKIRAILWAY on YouTube

A ride / window view on [i]Hayabusa 506[/b] from Sendai to Tōkyō, the second day after service was restored (2011.04.30). This is an evening run, departing Sendai at 18:19.


Source: karibajct on YouTube
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 02:00 PM   #854
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Quote:
Arriving at some station, somewhere
I think it's Omiya. Here is that housing you see in the background, which is located across the street from the JR Omiya works:

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=35.9152695...b&search=omiya
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Old July 4th, 2011, 08:57 AM   #855
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Foreign Minister Matsumoto promotes Shinkansen at Mercosur summit
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/world/news/...9050002-n1.htm

Quote:
At the Mercosur (Southern Common Market, the customs alliance for the South American region) Heads of State Summit held in the Paraguayan capital of Asunción on June 29, Foreign Minister Matsumoto Takeaki gave a speech as Japan’s first foreign minister to participate in the Mercosur summit, proposing the start of economic talks between Japan and Mercosur with the aim of signing an economic partnership agreement.

In his speech, Foreign Minister Matsumoto emphasized Japan’s speedy recovery following the Great East Japan Earthquake. “Japan’s rebirth would be impossible without our ties to the rest of the world,” said Matsumoto, who pushed for further strengthening of economic ties. “Tōhoku Shinkansen trains running at the time of the earthquake safely decelerated without permitting a single casualty,” remarked Matsumoto, promoting Japan’s technological expertise to Brazil, which is set to construct a high-speed railway.

Foreign Minister Matsumoto spoke with Paraguay’s President Lugo prior to the summit and Chile’s President Moreno after the summit. While Mercosur member nations at the Heads of State Summit agreed to further strengthen ties, Argentina’s President Fernandez and Venezuela’s President Chavez were absent.

Foreign Minister Matsumoto attended the Mercosur Heads of State Summit held in Paraguay’s Asunción on June 29. (Kyōdō)
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Old July 4th, 2011, 08:58 AM   #856
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JR Kyūshū announces new limited express tourist train for Misumi Line

On 2011.05.17, JR Kyūshū announced a new limited express train for the Kagoshima Main Line / Misumi Line, targeting tourists visiting Kumamoto and the southern Kyūshū area. Named the Take the “A” Train limited express, service is scheduled to start this fall with a specially refurbished two-car Kiha 185 series train designed by Mitooka Eiji. The service will target “adult passengers”, and the train will include a bar counter. All transverse seating, including four four-passenger compartments. Passenger capacity is 84 for the full two-car train. There are also plans to operate the unit with biodiesel fuel in a joint program with Amakusa City.

The “A” in the name of the train stands for “adult” and “Amakusa City”, the target tourism area for the service. Passengers will take the train from Kumamoto, arriving in Misumi (36.5 km) 40 minutes later, then walking to Misumi Harbor to catch ferries to Amakusa. The train will make one intermediate stop at Uto. As the service targets tourists, it will run on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays throughout the year, but during winter and spring vacation, will run everyday. Service is two roundtrips a day.

Some concept sketches by the designer:
Source: JR Kyūshū

The exterior is black and gold, drawing from the so-called nanban (“southern barbarian”) culture brought by the Europeans who first arrived in southern Kyūshū in the 16th century, and will feature stained glass embedded in wooden walls and flooring.



Bar counter area features sofa and bench seating.







With the completion of the Kyūshū Shinkansen’s Kagoshima route earlier this year, JR Kyūshū is putting a lot of effort into tourism trains, including the Ibusuki no Tamate-bako and the SL Hitoyoshi services, as well as plans for an overnight sleeper that travels the circumference of Kyūshū to start in summer 2013. This newest train will be the first limited stop train to run on the Misumi Line since the discontinuation of through-servicing Hi no Yama (“Mountain of Fire”) expresses in 1986, and the first limited express to run on the Misumi Line.

In related news, JR Kyūshū has also opened a naming contest for the Misumi Line in preparation for the new train in an effort to increase awareness of the line among locals.
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Old July 4th, 2011, 08:58 AM   #857
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Time savings with FGT reduced to only 12 minutes on Nagasaki – Hakata section
http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0....7.article.html

Quote:
MLIT overestimates benefits vs. costs
In the dilemma over the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s (MLIT) overestimation of the benefits vs. costs of the Nagasaki route of the Kyūshū Shinkansen, after conducting another estimate based on the development state of the Free-Gauge Train (FGT), the MLIT found that travel times between Hakata and Nagasaki would be 1h33m, substantially reducing the original time savings of 26 minutes being advertised by the MLIT to a mere 12 minutes. A “super limited express” design would save 15 minutes, beating out the FGT and putting into question the introduction of the FGT.

According to the MLIT, the target development speed of the FGT is 270 km/h on Shinkansen sections and 130 km/h on the Nagasaki route (Takeo Onsen – Isahaya), which is the same gauge as zairaisen (conventional lines). Based on these speeds, Nagasaki to Shin-Ōsaka would take 4h13m. The estimates put out by the MLIT in 2004 based on 300 km/h on Shinkansen sections and 200 km/h on the Nagasaki route resulted in travel times of 1h19m and 3h41m, respectively, and the newest estimates have substantially reduced the time savings benefit of the line.

The super limited express scenario assumes 160 km/h, currently the top speed of limited expresses running on zairaisen, for the Takeo Onsen – Isahaya section. The super limited express is 1h30m on the Nagasaki – Hakata section (three minutes faster than the FGT), and when transferring at Hakata to a Nozomi, 4h8m on the Nagasaki – Shin-Ōsaka section (five minutes faster than the FGT).

However, in the benefit-cost analysis, the FGT showed a 1.3 benefit-cost ratio while the super limited express showed a 1.1 benefit-cost ratio. As to why the FGT, with its lower time savings benefit, showed a higher benefit-cost than the super limited express, the Facilities Division of the MLIT explains, “For the FGT, we quantified the reduction in psychological stress associated with transferring trains and the associated increase in ridership, and added it as a benefit.”

In regards to the future implementation plans for the Nagasaki route, at a press conference following a cabinet meeting on April 28 MLIT minister Ōhata Akihiro emphasized his stance to continue with introduction of the FGT: “Even this new benefit-cost estimate that conforms to the current realities shows a 1.3 ratio, an appropriate number. Our line of thinking on this project hasn’t changed.”

Saga Prefecture governor Furukawa Yasushi remarked, “While this estimate may be based on the current level of technological development, I am counting on them to focus on further development and fulfill the original promise on speeds 200 km/h or faster.”

Free-Gauge Train (FGT) and “super limited express”
The FGT is a train that can change gauge and run on both zairaisen and Shinkansen sections. On the Nagasaki route, the FGT will make direct service between Nagasaki and Shin-Ōsaka possible. A “super limited express” design between Nagasaki and Hakata would run on the new section being constructed between Takeo Onsen and Isahaya, and use zairaisen tracks elsewhere.
The analysis also showed that the “super limited express” option would generate higher benefits per rider, as the FGT would mean passengers having to pay Shinkansen-class fares for short journeys even within Kyūshū. Alternatively, the FGT showed higher benefits for JR Kyūshū, as their fare revenues would increase.
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Old July 4th, 2011, 08:59 AM   #858
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Free-Gauge Train begins tests on Yosan Line

The FGT began tests on the Yosan Line in Shikoku on the late evening of 2011.06.27 and early morning of 2011.06.28. First test runs were only 40 km/h, but they will increase to 130 km/h by mid-July on straight sections between Tadotsu and Sakaide before jumping into the real trial runs on the curves between Tadotsu and Takihama. The tests will continue until late September, after which they will decide the fate of the technology. But if there aren’t any major problems found, they will move forward with durability tests and run the train for 100,000 km to check on the gauge-change equipment and amount of wear on the train’s wheels, with the goal of developing a practical application of the technology by late 2013.

A pretty comprehensive HD tour of the FGT at Iyo Saijō Station in Shikoku (2011.05.30):
Source: IyoOhzu on YouTube

Overview and ceremonies, with an interlude of some of JR West’s current limited express sets (8000 series on the Shiokaze and Ishizuchi). This was a big local publicity event to increase awareness of the FGT and its benefits, so there were a lot of young children brought in and local TV stations were present.



FGT arrival at Platform 1



Tour of the FGT.
The end cars were manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, while the intermediate car was manufactured by Hitachi. Currently, gauge-change bogies (manufactured by Kawasaki and Nippon Sharyō) are equipped on only the end cars—as the train is only testing on narrow-gauge 1,067 mm track, the bogies on the intermediate car are regular bogies, manufactured by Kawasaki. The middle car also features small steps that extend out to fill in the gap between the platform and the train (regular Shinkansen trains have a larger loading gauge, so a gap naturally forms when mini-Shinkansen trains stop at Shinkansen platforms).



A tour of the Sogō Shinji Memorial Museum, where they have a small exhibit on the FGT and a model that explains the gauge-change mechanism. Sogō Shinji is a local Ehime Prefecture hero of sorts, serving as the fourth director of the Japanese National Railways (JNR) from 1955 to 1963. He’s referred to as the “father” of the Shinkansen.

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Old July 4th, 2011, 09:00 AM   #859
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Shin-Ōsaka Station construction update

Some recent pics of the construction of a new track (Track No. 27) and side platform and two new sidings at Shin-Ōsaka Station.
Source: http://building-pc.cocolog-nifty.com/map/

A portion of the space originally reserved for the proposed Hankyū connection between Shin-Ōsaka and Awaji was converted for use by the new track and platform. To the left is JR Central’s construction area, to the right is JR West’s. A long time ago, I said that the JR West work might be for the Ōsaka Higashi Line extension from Hanaten to Shin-Ōsaka, but the structural frames in these photos don’t seem to be built sturdy enough for that… Instead, this is probably for an elevated transfer concourse between the ground-level zairaisen tracks and the Shinkansen, as well as an east-west public passage + platform bridge.



The new Platform 27 under construction. These photos are shot from the lesser known East Exit at the station.





Most people using the station use the larger West Exit or transfer directly to JR lines or the Midōsuji Line. The East Exit is a well-kept secret, but has its own small rotary and plaza.



Facing east, we can tell from the relatively new concrete and the base for one of the columns for the overhead supports that they widened this section here.



The unassuming East Exit.



There’s also a small park on the south side of the viaduct.



Moving to the other side of the station, to the west end. Left is JR West work, right is JR Central work.

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Old July 4th, 2011, 09:00 AM   #860
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Thunderbird to be cut back to Kanazawa after Hokuriku Shinkansen opening
http://mainichi.jp/area/toyama/news/...40602000c.html

Quote:
On July 1, it was revealed that there is a high likelihood that the Thunderbird limited express connecting JR Ōsaka Station and Toyama Station will be cut back to Kanazawa Station with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in late FY2014. JR West Kanazawa Branch Office vice-president Naruoka Takashi, who was invited as a guest attendee to the Toyama Prefectural Assembly’s Shinkansen and Comprehensive Transportation Strategy Special Committee, remarked, “As a basic rule, we are not envisioning operations east of Kanazawa.”

The Special Committee has been discussing the future of operations on the parallel zairaisen conventional line to be transferred out of JR West ownership after the opening of Hokuriku Shinkansen. In addition to Naruoka, the Special Committee also invited representatives from railway operators in Toyama Prefecture and others on the same day to gather opinions on issues related to the Shinkansen opening.

Regarding the Thunderbird, Special Committee member and Prefectural Assemblywoman Okuno Eiko asked, “Cutting the Thunderbird back to Toyama will likely make access from Toyama to the Kansai area more inconvenient. What sorts of plans do you have following the Shinkansen opening?” In response, Naruoka indicated that trains would turn back at Kanazawa Station: “The functions of the limited express east of Kanazawa will be replaced by the Shinkansen, so as a basic rule, we are not envisioning a limited express service from the Kansai area (towards Toyama).” Meanwhile, Naruoka also added that the railway is “considering how to prevent transferring at Kanazawa Station from being an inconvenience” after the opening.

In addition, Naruoka indicated that the railway has no plans to abandon operations on the JR Jōhana Line or other “branch lines” of the Hokuriku Line, but remarked, “Ridership is in substantial decline, and we want to sit down with local governments and discuss strategies to deal with the issue.”

In addition, in regards to operations of the parallel conventional line, Naruoka said that the railway “will provide support, including dispatching its employees to the local prefectural operating companies.” However, in regards to the transfer of tracks and other railway assets, Naruoka said that the railway is looking at a book-value transfer, in opposition to Toyama Prefecture’s hopes of a free transferral that would minimize the required initial investment.
12-car Thunderbird trains passing through snow country on the Kosei Line and Hokuriku Main Line (2011.01):


Source: hellokt21 on YouTube

The JRTT also recently (2011.05.31) began laying down rail for the Hokuriku Shinkansen in Toyama Prefecture for the first time. With a workforce of 10, they will lay about 600-800 m of track a day, and it will take them about two years to finish the entire section within Toyama Prefecture (~90 km). News report:


Source: eiki0205 on YouTube
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