Subscribe via RSS
27Aug/210

The Royal Express Visits Hokkaido (Again)

It's been a while, and there's a lot to post, but for now I'm catching up on trains. Actually, this isn't catching up at all... this train is touring Hokkaido as we speak. The Royal Express is a ridiculously beautiful electric set train that runs (usually) from Yokohama to Izu-Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula, but, due to Tokyu Corporation being perfectly adventurous, is running on non-electrified lines in Hokkaido!

It's an ELECTRIC TRAIN! You say? There's very few overhead wires in Hokkaido, you exclaim!? You'd be correct! To run this tour, they have employed two freshly-painted DE15 locomotives and a mail-car-come-generator-car painted in white, to (literally) tow the electric train through the beautiful pastures of Hokkaido.

Thanks to the current world order: we can't travel from Australia to Japan, but thankfully we can watch! Japan has a fantastic acclimation to rail-side webcams and a hotel in Obihiro has actually mounted one on their building with a perfect view of the station. The same team have also provided views of the airport and a famous bridge. Note that these links change all the time, so please just browse to their channel to find what they're offering!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah.. the tour train has actually already operated this route twice this season. Thanks to lockdown, I haven't been in any correct frame to be alert to its movements. Or maybe I was just working? The train passes the Obihiro Station webcam just after 4pm Australian Eastern Time and, well, it's knock-off for anyone starting on-or-prior to 8am.

Fortunately, I set my alarm today and caught it!

So yeah, double-DE15 + white power van + Royal Express EMU. Who would've ever thought to tow an EMU on 'genny'-power with two very light-weight diesels!? It's actually amazing on a many levels: reliability, engine-weight, loading-gauge... the list goes on.

Anyway, for those playing at home, Obihiro Station is a major freight-accepting town (the yard is further to the left/west of the camera), but has single-lines on either side. This means that, if you see a train, regardless as to whether it's meant to actually stop at Obihiro, it'll at least pause on the camera as there's line-working preventing it from proceeding. There are freight, Limited Express Tokachis (to the west) and Limited Express Oozoras (both directions) on the line at all times and there's always another service to wait for.

So yeah, it waited... and the westbound Oozora from Kushiro arrived.

Not long after, The Royal Express departed for Ikeda and the Oozora went onwards to Sapporo. From here it'll do a full loop, turning north at Kushiro (I want to do that next!) to Kitami and then back through Asahikawa. When this current world situation is over, I'll be doing the same!

Update: 04/09/2021

The Express De Royale has left on another lap, in delicious sunshine:

Enjoy patrons, enjoy.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
30Mar/210

Kangaroo Liner でGO!

2021's Timetable Revision is full of more surprises! First we had the innauguration of the new Fukuyama Rail Express from Ajikawaguchi to Morioka. Next up we have a new service known as the Kangaroo Liner, run by the Seino Group, from Nagoya to Fukuoka! The train is named after the companies' logo. Something quite similar to QANTAS, but backwards.

Above is the stock image that was sent out with all media online. I was very surprised to see a DF200 up-front... so-much-so that I thought there'd be a chance one would run the service! The media releases indicated that the train wouldn't be full of Kangaroo-only containers and that there'd be space available for other operators to hitch a ride.

Location Northbound Southbound (read upwards)
Service 5051
Nagoya Terminal 2212 1823
Inazawa 2229-2237 1721-1804
Gifu 2258-0007 1559-1655
Suita 0201-0204 1245-1250
Kobe 0238 1210
Himeji 0309 1135
Okayama 0423-0432 0911-0957
Hiroshima 0646-0649 0554-0601
Iwakuni 0734
Shinanyo 0850 0409
Hatabu 1028-1040 0219-0244
Kita-kyushu 1056-1106 0125-0202
Fukuoka Terminal 1247 0022
Service 5050

Westbound Service

The first train to leave was the westbound service from Nagoya to Fukuoka. At 2012 on March the 29th, the service departed and passed the Nagoya Station Camera not long after.

As you're watching the start of the video, you might be ready to tell me that it's "not the right train!"... but as the consist keeps rolling through the camera, you'll see that the Kangaroo-liveried containers are all piled on the rear. As mentioned above, there was always going to be spare room on the rake of flat wagons and the company was very happy to accommodate other operator's containers.

After travelling west, it then passed the Mukomachi Live Cam with quite a few more Kangaroo containers on-board!

From here, the Shin-Osaka cam picked it up, but it there was less-than-zero visibility. Unfortunately, there's no other cameras to the west to capture the action!

Eastbound Service

Due to this limited visibility out west, the first spot the train was seen was the Shin-Osaka Live Cam. The eastbound service seems to have at-least half a loading of Kanga-tainers.

After a stop-over at Suita, the train passed the Mukomachi Live Cam on time.

And then finally, back through the Nagoya Station Camera.

Looking forward to seeing these in real life... at some point... in the distant future.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
24Mar/210

Fukuyama Rail Express でGO!

The Fukuyama Rail Express is an express rail-freight service run by Fukuyama Transporting Co, Ltd. Regarding rail-freight, they previously only operated a service from East-Fukuyama to Tokyo.

Here's a shot of that service from my travels in 2019, running past Shin-Osaka Station behind an EF66.

DSC08353

As of yesterday, a new service has been innaugurated from Ajikawaguchi (Osaka) to Morioka!

DSC08353

How bad is my photoshop? Note that the services only run on weekdays.

Location Northbound Southbound (read upwards)
Service 58
Ajikawaguchi 2208 1600
Suita 2227-2231 1516-1528
Gifu 0023 1257
Inazawa 0038-0040 1229-1234
Kasadera 1206
Nishi-Hamamatsu 0200 1025
Shizuoka 0259-0301 0902-0910
Yoshiwara 0826
Numazu 0337 0747-0749
Sagami 0421 0656
Yokohama 0449 0629
Shin-Tsurumi 0505 (arrive) 0615 (depart)
Loco swap and service change to 61 Loco swap and service change to 59
Shin-Tsurumi 0541 (depart) 0541 (arrive)
Kajigaya 0551 0532
Niiza 0625 0502
Omiya 0642 0449
Utsunomiya 0745 0351
Kuroiso 0838-0842 0259-0303
Koriyama Terminal 0931-0954 0007-0158
Iwanuma 2234
Sendai 1147-1207 2141-2215
Higashi-Sendai 1217 2134
Kogota 2051
Morioka 1433 1908
Service 60

Thanks to Japan's love of live-cameras, I was able to follow the service in both directions. Actually, as I start to write this post, both trains are still running both north and south. Anyway, let's rewind and check out what happened.

Light Engine to Ajikawaguchi

The northbound service started at Ajikawaguchi, just next to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. To get the rake of beautifully-shiny containers out of the port, an engine was needed. EF210-156 was sourced from Suita and sent to Ajikawaguchi at around 1930 on the 23rd of March, 2021. Here it is passing the Shin-Osaka Live Cam.

It then passed the webcam near Fukushima Station.

Ajikawaguchi to Morioka

With the loco in place, the next step was to run the service! The consist ended up passing the Fukushima Camera around ~4 minutes behind schedule thanks to a late-running Haruka Airport Express.

Back to the Shin-Osaka Live Cam, it was nearly impossible to see it pass... but the audio is awesome in the night air!

Next up, it passed the Mukomachi Live Cam, amongst all the other freights and services.

A while later, it passed through Nagoya Station. Note the Shinkansen track vehicles working away also. That's a huge Tamper!

There's a great cam between Fuji and Shizuoka (which I've discussed before, recording times) and the train was seen passing through.

As that the train took the Niiza route through Tokyo, we couldn't see it on the Akabane or Shinjuku Cameras. Therefore the next and final camera was the Omiya Camera. The EH500 would've been swapped on at Shin-Tsurumi.

And that was it for the northbound. Congratulations Fukuyama Transport! Fortunately, we still had the southbound to stalk.

Morioka to Ajikawaguchi

The southbound left Morioka on the same night at 1908. It therefore passed the Omiya Camera before the northbound at around ~0450.

Whilst waiting for it at the Fuji cam, the northbound original Fukuyama Rail Express from East-Fukuyama passed by!

A little while later, the southbound was seen passing.

Next up was Nagoya Station.

And another guest came through an hour later...

And then again at Mukomachi Live Cam, right up the back, top-right, look really close!...

And since we're still waiting for the Fukuyama Rail Express to get to Mukomachi, here's Doctor Yellow passing Torikai to Shin-Osaka.

Whilst 'waiting at Mukomachi Live Cam', an EF65 passed towing a DD200!

And then, the main event at Mukomachi Live Cam.

Back through the Shin-Osaka Live Cam.

Through the Southern-Side Shin-Osaka Cam, one minute earlier if you believe system clocks... Also, this camera was down the previous evening when the inaugural service ran...

And then the final shot of the day! Past the Osaka Loop Line at Fukushima.

And that's a wrap!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
7Oct/192

201 Series Final Run, Osaka – June, 2019

This was officially the third final run 'seen' in one trip to Japan! First I got to see Ohmi Railway's 700 Series do its last run. Secondly, although not the final-final, I saw/rode Kumamoto Dentetsu's 200 Series during it's last month of operations. Finally, we have the Osaka Loop Line special: an orange-liveried 201-Series EMU. Starting in 2016, JR West put a lot of money into the Osaka Power Loop marketing campaign which saw new EMUs and new liveries on the Loop Line. This therefore meant a phasing out of the older rolling-stock.

Just my luck, the final run of the last running orange 201-series happened in early June. Unfortunately, I was working from the apartment and hadn't paid enough attention to when the final run would actually be! It turns out it was a single lap in the early morning peak! The train then retired to the yards near Osaka-Jo. I had actually gone out for a lap of the loop at around 3pm, waiting around Bentencho Station for the train to pass... after a while I google'd, only to find out that I was too late and therefore decided to head to the yards at Morinomiya. Before that though, there were some cool sites to be seen!

DSC01712

DSC01717 DSC01720 DSC01733

DSC01731

DSC01728 DSC01735 DSC01737

DSC01741

DSC01742 DSC01745 DSC01749

DSC01753

And, of course, my goal had been to catch the last-run and freight... so at least I was in one correct spot at one correct time!

DSC01759

DSC01763

The yard is located to the south of Kyobashi Station on the eastern side of the Osaka Loop Line. Morinomiya is the station directly south of the yard. The yard's entrance is on the north side and all operations are visible from the southern end of the Kyobashi Station platforms. To see parked trains though, I'd recommend walking from Morinomiya Station. It seems that everyone else had the same idea!

DSC01768

So, the train was in the yard and the wall was high and secure. If you look in the photo above, there was a poor little kid who'd ridden his bicycle down and tried to use it as a pedestal to see over the wall. Unfortunately, he still wasn't tall enough to take a photo with his Nintendo 3DS. I didn't ask why he was using that... but I guess he was too young to have a phone?

I took the following photo over the wall...

DSC01773

And then the poor kid looked up at me ... totally distraught. What else was there to do? I grabbed him and lifted him up high enough to take photos with his Nintendo! Made his day! On the way back, I stopped through Kyobashi Station as I wanted to actually check out the area. Whilst alighting, I grabbed a few shots of the local rolling-stock.

DSC01774 DSC01775 DSC01778

I was pretty sad... this was my second-last day of a 5-week trip.

Filed under: JPN 2 Comments
4Oct/190

Flea Markets, Osaka – May, 2019

There's nothing better than queuing (queueing?) up at the entrance of a Flea Market... there could be any amount of treasure inside, so you'll never know what you might find. One also doesn't want others to steal said treasure, so one must be early! In Japan, just like most other countries, there's a lust for flea markets and there's always someone selling something which piques one's interest.

Banpaku Recycle Fair - Expo Park

This flea market, named Banpaku Recycle Fair, is held twice a month at Expo Park in North Osaka. Getting there from Shin-Osaka was very easy, taking the subway and the Osaka Monorail.

After getting off at Expo Memorial Park Station, exit to the east and then cross under the monorail lines. The entrance is well organised, and really, you just need to head towards this guy to find it...

DSC07550

DSC07545 DSC07546 DSC07547

The park is used for a lot of events, even just families going for a picnic. The weather was perfect for a picnic also, but that's not what I was there for. Following the main path around to the left, you'll find the flea market.

DSC07553

DSC07554 DSC07555 DSC07557

DSC07558

From here, the browsing commenced! I ended up picking up a Famicom and a few n-gauge trains.

DSC07564

DSC07561 DSC07567 DSC07566

DSC07565

That Tower of the Sun God is ever-so-daunting.

Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine Flea Market

This one is nicely tucked away behind the busy streets of Umeda. It's a little bit south-east of the main JR Osaka Station, but within easy walking distance.

The temple itself is beautiful, a complete relic nestled in amongst a ring of skyscrapers. The area is connected to the Sonezaki Ohatsu Tenjin Dori Shopping Street (Shoutengai) which also offers some vintage and retro stores... if they're open when you're at the market!

DSC07507

DSC07502 DSC07508 DSC07503

I managed to pick up a really nice Sony Walkman-style personal recorder. It had all the right inputs and looked like it might be able to be connected to an MSX/C64/etc.. for data recording.

DSC07510 DSC07506 DSC07512

Don't forget to actually check out the shrine itself! Make a wish if you want!

Shi-Tennoji Flea Market

This market was huge! It's on the grounds of the Shi-Tennoji Temple and it's quite an effort to navigate the layout. You can access this market via the Tanimachi Subway Line at Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station or by walking north from JR Tennoji Station.

DSC 0006

If you're walking from the Subway station, you'll find the residents have their own stalls in the street leading to the main market. I don't know how by-the-book this is, but they've made the most of the traffic that comes through!

DSC 0007

DSC 0008 DSC 0011 DSC 0012

Wandering around, the usual trinkets were to be seen... until I saw this!

DSC 0013

It's a vintage model maglev Linear Shuttle! Opening the box to check the contents proved that it wasn't in the best condition.

DSC 0014

There seems to be a small oil tube included, which makes me think that the vehicle isn't always levitating... a quick google indicated that it actually only levitates on one section of track which then propels it around the loop. The loop is also vertical, as in a loop-the-loop, and not a flat circuit. The metal was also quite corroded... so I passed on it... but I had been pretty damn keen!

DSC 0016

Don't forget to say Hi! to the turtles in the middle of the temple yard. And the dancing monkey! I just missed the show.

DSC 0022

DSC 0017 DSC 0019 DSC 0020

Some stall holders happily dumped their wares on their tarpaulins... others were a lot more organised.

DSC 0021

And yeah... there's a lot of the above as well... it's always fun to check out the customers of such wares!

Shin-Osaka Station - East Gate

This small market is open every Saturday morning. Markets are pretty-much always on Sundays in Australia, so it was fun to come across this randomly when heading to the station to meet friends. Fortunately, there wasn't anyting that interesting... so I didn't have to lug anything around all day.

DSC 0079 DSC 0080 DSC 0081

It was also extremely hot... so anything you see above has probably already melted!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
1Oct/190

Suita Yard, Osaka – May, 2019

Thanks to the time of year, the sun was already starting to set later in the evening during May. I used the opportunities, when it wasn't raining, to venture out to the freight areas along the JR Kyoto Line. I'd visited Takatsuki the night before and realised, on the way back to Shin-Osaka, that I'd never really investigated the freight yard in Suita. The yard is officially located between Suita Station and Kishibe Station and there's a locomotive depot on the southern side of the line. I chose to proceed to Kishibe Station on train and then walk back to Suita.

DSC01631

Approaching from the east, I was instantly happy with my timing. The sun was setting perfectly, pointing straight at the faces of quite a lot of freight locomotives! Not only that, the variety was quite surprising. There were even some EF200s ready to be chopped up!

DSC01633

From the east side, there's a gate to the yard. This area provides a great vantage point to watch anything shunting around. It just so happens that a new HD300 was doing the honours with a set of KOKI flats. I don't actually remember the note of the engine as it was shunting, but for the life of me I don't think it sounded any less diesel! Shouldn't it have been more hybrid?

DSC01652 DSC01653 DSC01649

An EF63 then came through and parked into a free road in the yard. It had actually just come from Hirano, where I'd seen it earlier passing through!

DSC01634 DSC01637 DSC01640

DSC01645

Waaaay up the back of the yard there was also a standard YO5000 black guards van.

DSC01654

I continued to walk around to the other side of the yard. A lot of the length is just the side of the engine shed, in which I could here a lot of work being done, but couldn't really see it. And then there was some treasure on the side of the road... wouldn't fit in the suitcase though... might have been handy to test the famicom tho!

DSC01659 DSC01668DSC01661

Things got more interesting on the other side of the yard... EF66s! My favourite!

DSC01662

DSC01667 DSC01665 DSC01671

And then, after a bit more of a walk, there was an open gate with a perfectly framed view straight into the yard.

DSC01680 DSC01681 DSC01682

DSC01677

What an awesome line up! The lighting wasn't too bad either. Finally, down the very western end, is the entrance to the offices. They've mounted a 52 Series EMU (KuMoHa 52001) in their yard!

DSC01683 DSC01684 DSC01686

DSC01685

Nice surprise! I totally recommend anyone in the area to go for a walk and check this place out.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
30Sep/190

Takatsuki, Osaka – May 2019

There's a lot to check out in this area of town. If you catch Hankyu in, you'll arrive at Takatsuki-Shi Station and you'll find yourself closer to 国道171号 (Koudou 171) (National Route 171), the main highway through town, than you would if you took JR. On this strip of tarmac, you'll find 3 different recycle shops!

DSC01407 DSC01408 DSC01409

Much fun was had and much junk was bought, but then it was time for trains. Actually, it was time for a cheeseburger at McDonalds next door. After that, a quick walk north takes you to a tunnel under the Hankyu line.

DSC01410

But we're not here for that either... further north (about another 20 minutes on-foot through some beautiful suburbia) is the main JR Kyoto/Tokaido line. More specifically, it's the location of the Takatsuki Staging Yards that I'd visited a really long time ago. The weather was much better on that previous adventure! I think it was a lot earlier in the morning and there were more EMUs in nicer locations.... and it wasn't raining.

Anyway, There's a whole new housing development being built over the rice fields, so the view from the JR lines back to Hankyu will soon be obscured.

DSC01417 DSC01439 DSC01441

But the view of the JR lines wont change as you really wouldn't want to get any closer...

DSC01413

DSC01415 DSC01420 DSC01419

As per the previous shots taken near the monorail, there's the usual selection of Harukas, Thunderbirds, etc... and they are going track-speed here. Surprising really, as the pedestrian crossing is pretty daunting. It's actually a lift-it-yourself weighted broom stick!

DSC01425

DSC01430 DSC01431 DSC01435

So, as per the link above, when you cross you get to wander straight through the storage yards. There wasn't much happening here this time around though.

DSC01427 DSC01429 DSC01424

From the middle of the crossing, there's also cool views in either direction!

DSC01422

DSC01423

Finally, back on the safe-side, there's a good view of the train wash. It just so happened that one EMU needed a clean whilst I was there.

DSC01442

DSC01446 DSC01451 DSC01449

I then walked all the way to Senrioka Station, getting off again at Kishibe to check out Suita Yards... but I'll throw that into another post.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
26Sep/190

Minami-Ibaraki, Osaka – May, 2019

I can't remember exactly why, but I'd been on the Osaka Monorail again (see all about it here) and alighted at Minami-Ibaraki Station. The goal was to transfer to JR by following the Monorail north and then turning east towards the Aeon Mall, eventually arriving at Ibaraki Station. On the way, you pass under the freight viaduct and then over the JR Kyoto/Tokaido Line. Both actually offer quite nice afternoon/evening vantage points.

DSC01512

Above you can see the same bridge that I shot the EF66 on previously from Minami-Ibaraki Station itself. The sun was in a really nice position, but there was really little visibility of the freight line from street level! If something did pass, I didn't hear or see it. As I kept venturing north, I passed over the JR lines and saw that there was a direct path to the Aeon Mall. The sun was still up so I checked out the area just across the overpass. It turns out that there was a nice channel to the west of the intersection where one could possibly see some interesting traffic.

As per usual, loitering around long enough got the following...

DSC01519

DSC01521 DSC01523 DSC01524

DSC01559

DSC01560 DSC01563 DSC01564

DSC01552

All the limited expresses that pass my apartment in Shin-Osaka! I was a little sad that I couldn't get a freight train... or the Monorail + a LTD.EXP in the same pic... so here's just a Monorail.

DSC01534

The sun was gone and even a local Crane was eating dinner...

DSC01546

I packed up and proceeded over to Aeon and had a delicious Chicken Katsu Curry with added Spinach!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
25Sep/190

Osaka Monorail – May, 2019

The Osaka Monorail runs a quarter-ring around northern and eastern Osaka. Starting at Itami Airport in the north, it passes through Senri-Chuo Station (the terminus of the Midosuji Subway Line), continues through to Expo City and then turns south, passing through Ibaraki and Settsu before terminating at Kadomashi. There's also a branch at Expo City that ventures north, terminating at Saito-Nishi Station.

From Shin-Osaka, getting to the monorail is quite easy. Catching the Midosuji Line subway at either Nishinakajima-Minamikata or Shin-Osaka Stations and heading north will get you to Senri-Chuo Station for an easy transfer. This is the terminus, so there's no need to really worry about which train you catch, although some do terminate and reverse at Shin-Osaka Station. If this happens, then just alight, wait on the platform and the next one should take you to the end of the line.

Riding the monorail is just like any other train in Japan. Buy tickets or use your Ikoka/Pasmo and then board after people have alighted. Note that, just like most trains, you get a great view out the front. There's also a really cool seat where you can pretend to drive... unless someone else takes the seat... and then just sleeps... because why else would you want the front row?

DSC08208 DSC08212 DSC08215

DSC08209

During this most recent trip to Japan, my first venture on the Monorail was due to a huge flea market known as Garage Sale being held at Expo Park, just north of Expo City. As mentioned above, the subway was taken north and then the monorail east to Expo Memorial Park Station. This station is fantastic, as to the east is the junction of the two monorail lines and, if you wait for a while at the eastern end of the platform, you'll get to watch the infrastructure deal with the traffic.

DSC07578

DSC07574 DSC07573 DSC07576

Don't forget to also check out Expo Park... especially for the Tower Of The Sun...

DSC07547

DSC07569

The flea market was awesome, but I'll post about that another time... also note that there's a Poppondetta Model Railway Store in the Lalaport Shopping Centre at Expo City! There's also delicious food and other great shopping.

From Expo City, the main monorail line turns south, towards Ibaraki. The next station is Minami-Ibaraki, but before you get there you pass under a huge sweeping concrete viaduct that happens to be a single-line electrified freight overpass. This line connects the freight yard in Suita to the yard adjacent to the Shinkansen staging yard in Settsu.

DSC08222

DSC08228 DSC08232 DSC08234

I checked my freight timetable and timed a trip on the Monorail once more to catch a freight movement on the bridge. Sure, it was only a light engine (from what I could see?) but hey, it's an EF66! After seeing that, I continued south to Minami-Settsu. Prior to arriving at the station though, the Monorail passover over the Ai River, which happens to be a branch of the Kanzaki River. Anyway, the main point? Directly on the other side of the river is a JR Freight yard and straight after that is the Osaka/Settsu Shinkansen Depot!

DSC07597

DSC07599 DSC07601 DSC07602

DSC07605

DSC07603 DSC07607 DSC07608

You'll find a differing amount of stored Shinkansen there depending on the time of day, but there'll always be at least one and therefore always be something to look at. The Yard is actually longer than 2 16-car shinkansens end to end to facilitate a storage area (closest to the monorail) and then actual cleaning/repair/inspection facilities at the far end.

Once arriving at Minami-Settsu, one can exit to the east and head south to find a land of treasure!

DSC07632

Otherwise stay at the station and watch the trains coming and going from the crazy white wavy bridge further south. This bridge actually crosses the Yodo River!

DSC07616 DSC07620 DSC07628

DSC07619

Actually, the view north is pretty cool too!

DSC07634 DSC07639 DSC07648

If you keep travelling south, you'll end up at Kadomashi, the end of line. The track extends further south, through a crossover and into two end roads and a central lay-over. The best part here is that, if you've come south into the station, chances are good that your train has to run into the central road and turn back. Don't forget to head to the southern end of the platform to watch this happen!

DSC08203

DSC08204 DSC08205 DSC08206

DSC08207

At Kadomashi, one can make an easy transfer to the Keihan Railway.

Filed under: JPN No Comments
24Sep/190

Higashi Osaka Line – May, 2019

It was finally finished and it was finally my time to check it out! I've written about this before and before and before as it's exciting to see that JR West are continually building/extending/enhancing their network. This new line meant that, since I often stay in the area, one could have direct access to see the freight trains running through to Hirano without needing to hike too far on-foot!

DSC08351

The line starts at Shin-Osaka and uses platform 2. The train above had terminated an up service at Shin-Osaka Station, but was now on its way back down towards Kyuhoji. It's interesting that they managed to find enough of a slot to have the trains lay-over on platform 2 without causing too much of a timetable re-write. The fact that the trains are allowed to wait for (sometimes up to) 20 minutes at a time is quite interesting as I would've thought that this platform was heavily utilised by limited express services. It seem that crossovers have been installed on either side of platforms 1 and 2 to allow those limited express trains (Kuroshio and Haruka) to only now use platform 1 with no schedule changes!

As mentioned, the line starts at Shin-Osaka Station and heads north-east, following the Tokaido/Kyoto line alignment. Just after Higashi-Yodogawa station, the line splits off the main and elevates, taking you into Minami-Suita Station. This elevated curve and station actually form the fork of a full triangle connecting the Higashi Line to the Kyoto/Tokaido Line. From the northern platform, you can see the other half of the triangle; the path the freighters take to get to/from Suita Yard. Straight after the station is a beautifully curved bridge which you can see under construction here. It takes you across the Kanzaki River into JR Awaji Station. They had to prefix "JR" to the name, as Awaji Station is in use by Hankyu and it's a short walk to transfer between. This is also the easiest station to walk from to get to the northern bank of the Yodo River.

DSC08011

DSC08012 DSC08013 DSC08014

The shots above were actually from another trip I took where I wanted to be in-time for the first southbound freight through the Higashi Line. It turns out that if you take the first JR service, you'll just miss the first southound freight as the passenger service is scheduled afterwards. Instead, from Shin-Osaka you need to use Hankyu Minamikata Station to get to Hankyu Awaji and then walked across to JR Awaji.

DSC08020 DSC08021 DSC08022

DSC08027

From JR Awaji, there's also a good view down onto the Hankyu tracks below. Hankyu are currently undertaking a massive bit of construction to elevate their whole line from Juso to Awaji and beyond... and I believe it'll take quite a while longer as these concrete supports have been around for a few years.

DSC00948

Note that you can also stroll south-west from Hankyu Awaji Station to see the stuffed-and-mounted EH10 in the park just nearby...

DSC00949

From the northern end of the platforms at JR Awaji, you can see the shinkansen pass! You can also get a good view for southbound freight.

DSC00952 DSC00957 DSC00963

DSC00959

And then there's also the northbounders!

DSC00969

DSC00975 DSC00977 DSC00980

From JR Awaji Station, the line heads south and crosses the Yodo River. This bridge is a favourite for railfans in Kansai and used to be just a single lane, with a pedestrian path down one side. This has since been removed to allow the bridge to be dual-tracked.

DSC01458

I'm surprised they didn't receive bad press for removing the ability for pedestrians to cross the river here. You can now, of course, take the train, but more-often-that-not this was used by bicycles with large loads of stuff....

DSC08302

The first station after the bridge is Shirokitakoendori. As with all stations on this line, it's brand new and everything is very clean and tidy.

DSC08115

For some weird reason, I was particularly fond of the design of the escalators. Not just clean and tidy, but the quality and styling! JR West knows how to build a nice station.

DSC08117

From here it's an easy walk north to get to the southern side of the Yodo River. Stay on the eastern side and follow the bike tracks for some good views.

DSC08068 DSC08070 DSC08077

DSC08078

DSC08088 DSC08094 DSC08098

DSC08102 DSC08106 DSC08114

There's also some interesting vantage points from the fire escapes of nearby buildings. Just make sure you ask the local residents or authorities if it's OK to take train photos from an elevated position!

DSC08298 DSC08298 DSC08300

DSC08289

DSC08290 DSC08295 DSC08293

And then the freighter came through! A cute little light engine. My camera perfectly failed at this point with a lens error but I was happy the following shot succeeded.

DSC08303

The train's next stop is JR Noe Station. Again, this is another station where the 'plain' name was already taken; this time by the Keihan Railway. It's an easy walk to transfer between these two stations and it can be a good path to get to the Osaka Monorail, transferring at Keihan Kadomashi Station.

DSC07672 DSC07675 DSC07677

DSC07682

From JR Noe, the line travels south before joining the alignment of the Gakkentoshi Line. Just before the junction, you can see a former alignment and triangle where the Higashi Line branched west to a yard next to Sakuranomiya Station. It's now a footpath/cycleway and the yard is long-gone, full of apartment. I'll have to dig up more information on that area. But back to the line in question, after the bridge, the train curves into Shigino Station. Here you can transfer to the Gakkentoshi Line, through to Umeda at Kita-Shinchi Station, or after it turns into the Tozai Line and therefore beyond to Amagasaki or Nishi-Akashi.

DSC01462

DSC01461 DSC01463 DSC01465

DSC01469

DSC01474 DSC01476 DSC01479

DSC01487

DSC01488

Staying on the train, you'll now approach Hanaten Station and then curve south to finally intersect with the Yamatoji Line to Nara. Before this though, there's quite a few more new stations, where JR have once again had to prepend "JR" to make the names unique: JR-Kawachi-Eiwa Station, JR-Shuntokumichi Station and JR-Nagase. Kizuri-Kamikita Station after the list above, is finally a newly-named station, and I made an effort to get here one afternoon for a southbound freighter.

DSC01696 DSC01699 DSC01700

DSC01698

Next comes Shinkami Station, named "shin-" as Kami Station is already just next door on the Yamatoji Line. Due to the design of the triangle, getting an "internal" transfer seemed impossible, so they went ahead and built two stations.

If you've stayed on-board then you're now approaching Kyūhōji Station - the end of the Higashi Osaka Line! Here you get the best transfers onto the Yamatoji Line to continue onto Nara and further east into Kansai. I actually did this on my previous trip through to Yokkaichi and Sendai.

Filed under: JPN No Comments