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Seibu Train Announcement Mishap

This is something that doesn't happen often. Soranews reported that a passenger had recorded an announcement mishap and I thought maybe they just added an extra station.

A gift that just keeps giving! :) Actually... here's another one, for any Hokkaido fans...

It seems that there's no 'script' and the auto-reader is just running through the list from top to bottom. I assume they usually queue up snippets to make up the announcement, but this time (maybe when the list is empty?) it just goes for gold!

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Shin-Osaka Webcam: DD51s

I'll be in Japan again shortly, so have been monitoring the Shin-Osaka Webcam to see if there aren't regular movements that aren't well-known or scheduled. There are slots in the timetable, that I've mentioned before, which are for ad-hoc movements. So sometimes you can guess the timing... but other times the movements are just random... like this one!

Hawksburn Comeng

A DD51 towing a DE10. Nice.

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JR West – Osaka Higashi Line Update!

I've mentioned this line before and have been eagerly awaiting its completion. Recently, JR West advised that the new year (2019) would see the opening of the line. 4 days ago, JR West announced the line would be fully open on the 16th of March 2019. Awesome!

So I went looking at the Shin-Osaka Webcam and it didn't take long to see the following!


And back again...


I don't know if they're revenue services or not... but the line is active!

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Japanese Railway Freight Timetables

These are the freight watchers guide to Japan. They include both JR Freight and private companies. I've previously used them to chase The Gakunan Railway, the Seino Railway (Minoakasaka) and the Chichubu Railway. Oh! Also the M250 Super Rail Cargo run by Sagawa Transport! (also see here) .. I recently picked up the latest copy...


Anyway, I looked at my shelf recently and realised I've got the collection from 2010 through to 2018! All of these have either been ordered from Shosen Books in Akihabara, or direct from the author website.


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In each of them, if bought brand new, you get a calendar and the run diagrams. These diagonally plotted timetables show you the train paths and their layovers. It's really handy to find the places with the most crosses. Actually, I used the same mechanism when chasing The Southern Spirit here in Australia.


Note to the left is the main freight timetable from 1964 when the railways made the huge final switch from Steam to Electric/Diesel. It's known as yon-san-tou... (4,3,10) which translates to: October 1968, i.e. the 10th month of the 43rd year of Showa. At some point I want to actually compare large chunks of the timetables to see if there's any interesting correlations.

Until then, the goal is to just chase more freight in Japan! If you need a hand with information that might be available in these timetables, then drop a comment below.

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Osaka Higashi Line Update!

I was just browsing satelite maps of Osaka and found that they'd expanded the bridge! (Previously reported here)


From above, you can see the western on/off ramps are complete. The eastern side of the bridge has also now completely crossed the river. Actually, the construction equipment has also been removed!

The tracks were also re-aligned down at Shin-Osaka station...

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You can see a whole lot of over-ballasted track in the bottom-to-mid-right of the image above. That's where the tracks will merge in from the above ramps.

The railway was 'optimistically' meant to open last financial year... so we're already 2 months behind... but the construction is looking very promising!


Osaka Higashi Line

I've been a fan of the Yodogawa Bridge in NE Osaka for a long time. I stumbled across it during a bicycle ride back in 2007, but have been back to it every time I visit Japan. It used to be a single-tracked bridge, with a pedestrian path on one side, connecting Suita to Kudara (Hirano) for freight movements.

View from residential block on south side.

Half way along Yodogawa Bridge Another railfan on Yodogawa Bridge DD51 heading north on Yodogawa Bridge

More upgrades north of Yodogawa Path along south-east side of Yodogawa Bridge Looking south from the south-side Recycling And another railran on Yodogawa Bridge

DD51 pulling freight over Yodogawa Bridge

I took the above photos back in 2010. Here's an album with more angles. Note that it is also used for dead-heading passenger trains down to the Tennoji area.

223 Series crossing Yodogawa Bridge

Anyway, back on topic! Recently JR West has ripped up the pedestrian path and installed a second track to facilitate the Osaka Higashi Line. This is all well under-way, as I saw when I was there in 2016. This will see a passenger service from Umeda/Shin-Osaka Station through to Kyuhoji in East Osaka.


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Further south, a lot of the duplication is already complete. The stations are also nearing completion. The main area that still needs work is the junction at the Shin-Osaka end. From what I understand, the junction used to exist, but was disused and ripped up. Land was then (illegally?) used by regular humans and had to be re-acquired.

The freight line from Suita intersects the Tokaido Main Line at the wrong angle, so a wye is currently being built just north-east of Higashi-Yodogawa Station. This will allow trains to proceed from Shin-Osaka straight onto the new line and across the Yodogawa towards Kyuhoji. This has required one new bridge and, as previously mentioned, the adjustment of other bridges. Thanks to the glory of Google Maps, we can follow the construction... albeit with a little bit of a delay. It turns out they've half-built the new north bridge and it looks quite amazing in the 3D view!


Here's the link to the view on Google Maps. The curved bridge construction infrastructure is amazing. I can't quite work out if they've custom-built the curved crane, or if it's flexible enough to fit the curve and be used elsewhere afterwards. Either way you can see the next pillar already in the river.

I'll update this post as I find out more information on this new line.

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Shin-Osaka Webcam – More Randomness

I was randomly viewing the Shin-Osaka Webcam this morning and came across a DD51, with another in-tow, heading through Shin Osaka towards Osaka itself. Excuse the crappy quality of the video... screen-capturing live YouTube isn't fun and the sun was still rising in the land of the rising sun.

It occurred to me that there could be other webcams down near Umeda to get a better idea of where these movements end up, so I started searching. I had no luck finding anything in the middle of Osaka with a railway view, but did find something in North Kansai.

It turns out that there is a webcam facing the southern end of Toyooka Station, attached to the North Kansai IIT Media Center. The camera is even controllable? I can't imagine that this is meant to actually be publicly facing... but... it is.

So, what goes up that far north? Turns out the Konotori and Hamakaze services do! Here's the Hamakaze entering Shin Osaka Station...


And then, 3 hours later at 12:18 (on the dot, timetable-wise), here it is arriving at Toyooka!


It then returned to Osaka at 14:26...


Now to find more webcams to stalk more trains...


Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan – July 2017

I'd been to this city before, but always by railpass and therefore the Tohoku Shinkansen. My friend (Hi Keiko!) is from Aizu and, whilst going to visit her family, insisted that we travel via the Aizu Tetsudou instead of taking the quick path. We weren't disappointed!

The Path

I've plotted the paths vaguely on the map below. Option 1 is in blue and it's the standard 'fast route' via the Shinkansen and Aizu Liner. This is all JR and is totally do-able for 'free' using the JR Pass. As I'd mentioned, we'd done this many times in the past and it was time to check out the old route through the mountains and on the private railways.

The whole trip was done in two stages. First was from Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima via the Tobu Railway on the Limited Express Revaty. Second was from Aizu-Tajima through to Aizuwakamatsu on the Aizu Railway.

Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima

The Revaty is an exciting train. I have no idea where they got the name from (I lie, Wiki says: a name derived from the English words "Variety" and "Liberty"), but it looks neat and is quite new!


The platforms at Asakusa are curved and they get quite narrow towards the front of the train. We were also 'right on time' and had to do a bit of safe-speed-running to get to the car of the train of which we were assigned. The journey was comfortable and quick... with most passengers alighting along the way rather than at the very end. It actually turned out that the three of us, plus two (drunk) comrades, were the only passengers to go the whole way. The other two were quite entertaining, telling us about their trips to Australia and that they were just on the train as they were very interested in the new Revaty.

We passed through Tobu Nikko and saw the SL Taiju at a platform, accepting passengers on its trial runs. I'd not even thought that we'd intercept this train and wasn't ready to take photos... the timing was off anyway.


There was a layover at Shin-Fujiwara to allow transfer to a local train and we were afforded time to take some photos.


The scenery was already becoming picturesque... most of the time we were hanging out the left-hand-side windows as the sheer drop-offs down to the Kinugawa were stunning!

Aizu-Tajima Transfer

This was the end of the line for the Revaty. Here we transfered to a DMU of the Aizu Railway.


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The Aizu Tetsudou runs cute little 1-or-2-car DMU sets all the way up to Aizu-Wakamatsu. It also runs a joyful train known as the Torokko Train which has open windows and heaters, but we just missed that connection.

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The trip from there to Aizu felt very nostalgic and the hum of the diesel just adding more charm. The whole setup was one-man, so the driver had to receive payments at each station and confirm that everyone was utilising the service correctly.

SL Ban'etsu Monogatari

We arrived into Aizu-Wakamatsu on time, but this happened to be waaaaay too early for the SL. It was originally meant to be nice and tight, with the SL arriving a few minutes after we did... but, thanks to a country-way-of-life, the SL was running behind and arrived at a leisurely pace quite a while behind schedule.

I was only itching to take photos and therefore wasn't as disturbed as the passengers waiting on the Aizu Liner. This service will stall until the SL arrives to allow for a proper connection for transferring passengers. Again, no complaints here: The FruiTea Fukushima Joyful train was attached to the Liner, but didn't seem to be doing too much business.

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The interior was quite beautiful and the staff were immaculately dressed.


After admiring this for a bit... the SL dawdled in...

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As stunning as ever... Always looking 100x better in the flesh. Black is a really difficult colour to photograph. Thanks to a family member picking us up from the station, we had wheels and traveled a little way north to get a shot of the steamer in action.


A northbound DMU came through first.

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And then the SL itself... not going overly fast!


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From there, we went to a few recycle shops... and just happened to pass the station once more when I saw a random champagne-coloured EMU...

Train Suite Shikishima

This was a fluke... whilst waiting for the SL to turn up, the Shikishima rocked up to Aizu Station. We found out later that it seemed to have run into trouble just north at Kitakata, supposedly having pantograph issues? Either way, the passengers were de-trained and then re-joined the service after a quick fix in the Aizu yards...


Don't quote me on this though... it could all be here-say. Either way I got to see the consist!

Kitakata to Atsushio - Nitchu Line

There's very little information on this, but there used to be a line from Kitakata further north to Atsushio. Supposedly this was built 1938 and the goal was to either transfer materials to build the Hinaka Dam or build a passenger line all the way through to Imaichi. There's a little bit more information here.

You can follow the alignment from Kitakata Station through the town. To the north-west of the town they've planted Cherry Blossoms along the path and have even stuffed and mounted a C11 SL with a little Diesel behind it.


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Driving to Atsushio was beautiful. The road nearly follows the old alignment and in most places you can see the embankment where the old line used to run. At the end, Atsushio Station has been beautifully preserved and even has more stuffed and mounted rolling stock.



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The station is beautifully preserved and there's quite a bit of memorabilia displayed in the offices. Make sure you walk all the way around and donate if you have spare change! You can even ring the station bell and make an announcement!

Aizu City

Turns out the police know how to catch up to the locals when required. We were at the station for official business (nothing untoward) and this was sighted in the car park.



So pretty. I wonder if the owner: 1. is a police officer? 2. heads up the mountain much?

Aizu Tetsudou

Whilst there was spare time, I dawdled down to the nearby Aizu Tetsudou station from the house and checked out the local services.

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That afternoon it was a single-car DMU bringing students home from school. They were pretty shocked to find a gaijin taking photos of their mode of transport. I just smiled and waved; they did too.


Minami Wakamatsu Station is a single-platform structure on a single-line area of the Aizu Tetsudou, just south of the main AizuWakamatsu Station.


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Ashinomakionsen Station

A few stations south is Ashinomakionsen Station. I'd seen via google maps prior to the trip that there was a siding here with a passenger car that seemed to be used as a classroom or cafe. We happened to be driving south to Ōuchi-juku, and so I asked to stop through.


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The carriage was ... well ... in a state of disrepair. The contents seemed to be aimed at school-kids, but it doesn't seem like it has been used in a while!


Turns out that there's two station cats here as well, but they were locked up in their cages as it was wet outside... supposedly they're not allowed to get dirty! The rain also caused the railway to stop running on that day! I was so hoping for a running shot further down the line... but there were no trains in either direction thanks to a fear of land-slides.

Tonohetsuri Station

This station was another single platform on a single-line area, tucked away in the middle of the forest. It was on a beautiful sweeping curve and would've been great for a photo! ... if only the trains were running.



And that was that for railway-oriented things in Aizu... I won't hesitate to go back again!


Tokyo International Container Terminal – July, 2017

The initial plan was to get to the Tokyo City Flea Markets. Who can resist a good bargain? And I've seen photos of stalls with railway memorabilia! Unfortunately, a little bit of drizzle CANCELLED THE ENTIRE MARKET. Funnily enough, we weren't the only people disappointed; quite a few locals walked past and shared our agony when they read the 'we are closed' sign.

Anyway... I had an ulterior motive... There's a shinkansen yard and freight terminal to the east, not a 20 minute walk away, that I wanted to check out and, fortunately, my comrades obliged when they had nothing else to do in such a remote location of Tokyo!

The map above shows you a terrible walking route from the Markets (M) to the Freight/Shinkansen Yards (Y). It's around a 20 minute walk and it drizzled the whole way! Fortunately there is some tree cover on the east side of the river.


The yard happens to be huge and there's always a consist being built up or broken down.

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The M250 Super Rail Cargo was sleeping in the yard... it actually looks like these units had been put in storage? They weren't looking as top-notch as the regular runners?

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Of course, Shinkansen are staged here too...


And then it happened...


Doctor Yellow has a home here! I thought it always returned to Hamamatsu, but here it was, happily resting before its next duty! Shooting through the railings proved a challenge, but it was great to see the unit in the flesh.

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From there it was another dreary walk back to the Monorail Station at ŌiKeibajō-Mae Station which is part of the Tokyo Monorail.



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Note that you can see horsies from the station if you look out the windows towards the race track!


So, it was a sad trip thanks to a cancelled flea-market... but, all's well that ends well when Doctor Yellow makes an appearance!


Shin-Osaka Webcam – Sunrise Seto/Izumo+Track Vehicles

Just for fun I installed FlashBack Express and attempted to record video from the Shin-Osaka Webcam YouTube Live stream. It's probably totally against the rules, but I really wanted to capture a tiny Shinkansen Track Vehicle that you really couldn't see in a single still.

Anyway, first up is the Sunrise Seto/Izumo. This train takes you from Tokyo to either Shikoku or Tottori. It splits at Okayama.

And then the Shinkansen Track Vehicle. I recorded this in double-time as it was really dawdling at the start. It then ends up shooting through the actual station platforms.

As mentioned... these might not be up for long... I'll delete this post if that happens.