REALLY BIG UPDATE: As of ... god knows when ... this yard has been entirely removed! Here I was, 2 weeks ago, at Shin Osaka station, waiting for a train from Umeda to pass but, alas, nothing came through. Turns out that, upon cruising past on the Haruka, the Umeda Freight Yards no longer exist! The timetables below are still valid but all traffic terminates at Suita.
Any mention of Umeda below is historical. The timetables have been updated to show Osaka... This yard is located right next to the Shinkansen Depot to the south-east of Senrioka.
Buried in upper-central Osaka is Umeda, home of the Hep-5 ferris wheel, the Umeda Sky building, the amazingly-new Osaka station and a relic: The Umeda Freight yards. Very easy to access, these yards' time has to be limited. The yard is situated on a prime development location and the surrounding buildings have slowly been creeping in.
In the yard you'll usually find any number of EF66s, EF81s, EF210s and DE10s for the shunting. There was a rake of WAMUs in there when I checked it out 10years ago, but recently it's been only container traffic. There is a large shed at the southern end which restricts visibility. You'll also find a very long passenger tunnel under the width of the yard. It connects the Umeda Sky Building to Yodobashi Camera. I really do wish this was an overpass!
I've previously walked around the area and took a few photographs. The album is here if you want to check it out.
This yard is on the 'Osaka Station Bypass' that the high-speed trains to Wakayama and the Airport use. Also the Super Rail Cargo to Ajikawaguchi and the freight trains I'll mention in this post.
The traffic mentioned is fun to photograph and the lighting at any time of day provides great opportunities. Below are some shots of the area. Note that the first photo below was taken from the Heart-Inn hotel just south of the yard and walking distance from Osaka Station.
Times listed are between Suita and Osaka and don't relate to the map above :) I'll update that soon!
|▲4058||Niigata||0654||0732||0741||▲ = 休日運休 (Not Holidays)|
|(2060) ~ 4060||Sapporo||2026||2054||2103|
|▲5066||Hiroshima||ºº1446||1533||1545||▲ = 火曜日運休 (Not Tuesdays)
Has ºº, define this.
|▲56||Tosu||0506||0516||0528||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|(3072) ~ 72||Matsuyama||1002||1034||1045|
|(3076) ~ 76||Niihama||0329||0433||0445|
|86||Himeji||ºº1747||1838||1850||(Timetable has ºº. Define this.)|
|▲90||Ajikawaguchi||1739||1742||1754||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|(4088) ~ 1085||Sendai||0458||0536||0545|
|2074||Kagoshima||ºº1248||1319||1330||(Timetable has ºº. Define this.)|
|1392||Hirano||1459||1501||1515||配給 = Light Engine Movement|
|1476||Suita||––||0926||0937||配給 = Light Engine Movement|
|▲57||2043||2056||2058||Tosu||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|▲4059||2232||2241||2319||Niigata||▲ = 休日運休 (Not Holidays)|
|▲93||1049||1102||1111||Ajikawaguchi||▲ = 月曜日運休 (Not Mondays)|
|▲1080||1924||1934||2017||Niiza||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|1084 ~ (4089)||1829||1839||1925||Sendai|
|▲2081||1230||1243||1256||Fukuoka||▲ = 月曜日運休 (Not Mondays)|
|62 ~ (3051)||1640||ºº1651||2029||Fukuoka||Define ºº on stop at Suita.|
All traffic above is containerised. Also note that the yard can only be entered from the north. Hence trains to Ajikawaguchi (which is further down the line) have to be accessed by running around at Suita!
There are three ways for freight to be delivered into Osaka by rail. The first is into Ajikawaguchi located to the west of the city near Universal Studios, The second is into Umeda Freight Terminal, right in the heart next to Osaka Station, and the third is to take the Osaka Higashi Line to the east and arrive at Hirano Station. The latter service is the one we'll be investigating today.
The freight line itself runs south out of Suita Terminal, over the Yodogawa (Yodo River) and then wraps around the city, clockwise from Shigino to Hirano. This used to be freight only, or for movements to dead-head electric stock, but it currently being upgraded to a passenger line. The line was originally to be called the 'Osaka Outer Loop Line', but is now to be known as the Osaka Higashi Line. At Suita, the freight approaches from Suita in the east, whereas the passenger services will approach from Shin-Osaka in the west. Likewise, at the end of the line the passenger services will take the triangle to the west and arrive at Shinkami/Kyuhoji, whereas the freight ventures west to Hirano Freight Yard.
Currently there is no passenger service between Shigino and Shin-Osaka, but this is expected to start by 2018. There seems to have been an illegal site occupation on the former alignment near the triangle at Suita.
Seen to the left is the map of the line from both Google and Yahoo respectively. As you can see, the blue line highlights the path which crosses the river and then heads around lower Osaka.
There are no yards in between Suita and Hirano, so the freight will proceed as quickly as possible south, slotting in to the passenger traffic at the junction north of Shigino.
Once at Hirano, the freight is transferred to road vehicles for the rest of the journey.
I believe that both electic and diesel locomotives work over this line, but I've only currently seen DD51s pulling the freight services. Then again, if you look at the an EF66 here on Street View and an EF81. That latter EF81 looks like the locomotive I photographed in Umeda Yard years ago.
Thanks to the latest JR Freight Timetable for 2015, I can provide the following timings for the freight services in and out of Hirano. Please do take note of the comments column and ensure that you're ready for disappointment. Not all services run on this line, regardless of the slots available.
|▲65||Tokyo||0542||0547||0623||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|(▲1077) ~ ▲1079||Niiza||0948||1145||1222||▲ = 新座(夕)-横浜羽沢間 稲沢-百済(夕)間 日曜日運休
(Not Sundays between Niiza[Evenings]-Yokohama and Inazawwa-Hirano[Evenings])
|▲1092||Nabeshima||1311||1350||1422||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|▲4070||Niigata||0625||0637||0719||▲ = 南長岡-百済(夕)間 休日運休
(Not Holidays between South Nagaoka-Hirano[Evenings])
|(▲4077) ~ ▲4076||Hachinohe||1647||1713||1748||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|(82) ~ (▲3082) ~ ▲5087||Asahikawa||1420||1422||1453||▲ = 青森(信)-百済(夕)間 月曜日運休
(Not Mondays between Aomori[Junction]-Hirano[Evenings])
|¤7085||Tokyo||0411||0420||0457||¤ = Runs on unknown dates, not regularly.|
|▲64||2129||2201||2232||Tokyo||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|▲1074 ~ (1076)||1945||2018||2044||Niiza||▲ = 百済(夕)-稲沢間 日曜日運休
(Not Sundays between Inazawwa[Evenings]-Hirano)
|▲1093||1929||2002||2043||Fukuoka||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|▲4071||1303||1335||1427||Niigata||▲ = 休日運休 (Not Holidays)|
|▲4075 ~ (▲4074)||1959||2030||2123||Aomori||▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)|
|▲5086 ~ (▲3083) ~ (83)||2231||2304||2312||Sapporo||▲ = 百済(夕)-青森(信)間 日曜日運休
(Not Mondays between Hirano[Evenings]-Aomori[Junction])
|¤7082||2150||2222||2240||Tokyo||¤ = Runs on unknown dates, not regularly.|
|1392||1425||1459||1501||Osaka||配給 = Light Engine Movement|
I've translated the comments from the timetable to the best of my ability. From this I've even learnt of new freight yards that I had no idea about. For the comments that also suggest places, I'm a little confused... Should there be a need to state the to/from, when you could just say that the service doesn't run? Or is it part of a greater service where some legs aren't always operating? Does this mean that the consists will be shorter?
I'll find out in a few weeks when I go stalk this service for a morning or two!
Digging through my backed up iPhoto album, I'd realised that I'd completely failed to upload and blog about my 2013 trip to Japan. I'll be collating (and trying to remember) the photos and trips and hopefully write about them in due course.
This post is about a trip I took from Tennoji to Kansai Airport. Usually you'd just jump on the Nankai Rapi:t or JR West Haruka, but I had time to burn and new places to visit.
Why not take the express?
Scenery from a train window in Japan is, more often than not, impressive. It's not as educational as a TV, but the quality is realistic and the views picturesque. The audio quality is also fantastic and there's often a connection to the soul when one of the clicks or clacks actually physically interacts with you.
Realising this, I had decided to extend what would be a very short and fast trip into a long and thoroughly enjoyable one through the south Osaka countryside.
Kansai Main Line
From Tennoji, I watched the expresses depart southbound towards the airport and realised that 3 or 4 of them would reach my destination before me. I was in for a much longer trip, starting off heading east, instead of south, towards Oji.
This is the Kansai Main Line (the translation could also be "Kansai Original Line") which cuts across the Kii Peninsula from Tennoji through to Tsu. I travelled on the west side of it from Tennoji through to Oji, which uses an assortment of EMUs. Further to the east you switch to a DMU to get over the mountain range to Tsu.
Note that Google Maps correctly shows the name from Kamo to Namba as the Kansai Main Line. JR West has given the stretch from Namba to Kamo the nickname "Yamatoji Line" and runs the "Yamatoji Rapid" on it.
This line runs from Oji to Wakayama. From Gojo Station, the track parallels the Kino River (Kinokawa River? Kino River River?) giving the passenger some fantastic views. I was there in early Summer and there were carp kites hanging from cables strung across the breadth of the river. For the life of me I can't believe that I didn't take any photos.
This is the stretch of track from Tennoji to Wakayama. Multiple express trains run along here... The Haruka to the airport and the Kuroshio/Ocean Arrow to Shingu. I checked out Wakayama station, a junction for the Kisei Line and the Wakayama Railway Kishigawa Line.
This is the first station north of Wakayama on the Hanwa Line. The expresses don't stop... and there's a sweeping curve and bridge to the south, providing a great spot to get them coming through at full-tilt.
You then get great shots from the north with the mountain range in the background.
Heading north, the track enters a mountain range just after Kii Station. In the middle of that range is Yamanakadani Town. This little town has a tiny station where the expresses bolt through.
Further north, after the mountain range, the track makes it way towards the branch to Kansai Airport at Hineno. Two stations before this is Shinge Station. It's extremely urban and sees very much the same traffic. No express trains stop here.
The branch to Kansai Airport starts here. The Haruka Express trains therefore stop here to allow connecting passengers to continue south to Wakayama.
From here it was a quick transfer and trip through Rinku Town before arriving at Kansai International Airport.
I just happened across an eBay auction for a "Thunderbird" 7-Car consist in JNR red/beige livery which very much looked like a JR West Raichō or Kitakinki. After digging a little deeper, it turns out that the seller actually directly translated the Kanji of 雷鳥 to "Thunder bird". This, whilst literally correct, is a mistranslation of the train name which is, of course, the Raichō.
Little did I know that the JR West Thunderbird actually steals its name from the Raichō, which means "thunder bird" in Japanese. The bird is actually the Rock Ptarmigan, a native to the Tate[yama] Mountain Range of the Toyama region (which is where the train[s] travel to.)
Interesting to know that JR West first called the Express the 'Raichō', then released a 'Super Raichō' and then created a new service to the same area with the same name, but this time in english: the 'Thunderbird'.
Going through my galleries, turns out I have more shots of the Thunderbird than I care to remember!
The Thunderbird just happens to be one of my favourite EMUs. It's colour-scheme is a little dated, but the design and practicality (opening end-vestibules) is awesome. Not surprisingly, it also reminds me of the Dutch NS Koploper.
These photos were taken back in January 2008. I'd hired a bicycle and had been dawdling along the Tokaido Main Line from Shin-osaka through to Takatsuki. I'd made it all the way to the staging yards just north-east of Takatsuki (Google Maps seems to indicate the area is known as 'Amanishinocho') before turning around to return to Osaka.
I stopped and took these shots from the pedestrian crossing visible in the map above. I can't quite believe that it isn't an overpass. I don't know if this crossing still exists today.
And towards Osaka...