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Virtual Train Trip – Osaka Station to Shin-Osaka Station

For those who don't know, suburban Japanese passenger trains, more often than not, have front windows of which passengers can actually see out of. This is very unheard of in Australia, as the driver's cabin is usually separated from the dangerous passengers by opaque walls.

Therefore in Japan, if you get into the front car of a passenger consist, not only can you see the driver and watch his every move.. you can see out the front of the train and watch as you drive along the tracks!

It's totally mesmerising. Of course, you can then also watch all the gauges and other instrumentation that the driver must control to keep the whole system functioning.

I hereby present a video I took by suction-cupping a GoPro to the front window inside a 223-Series EMU from Osaka to Shin-Osaka.

What you're seeing here is the view on the 'conductors' side of the cabin. When the train is running in the opposite direction, this is the area where the conductor usually works from as the doors switches and guard light controls are all on the wall. It's also a good shelf to store your work bag.

The trip starts with the curve out of Umeda, crossing the Yodogawa before quickly arriving at Shin-Osaka Station. If you want to then see the area afterwards, check out my Shin-Osaka Webcam sightings here.

27Sep/170

Fukushima Station, Osaka, Japan – July 2017

Welcome back to Osaka. This time it was an airbnb apartment (marked by C below) right in town near Fukushima Station. This area is of note as it's where the limited express/freight line from Shin Osaka connects to the loop line to continue west/south (marked with a A). There's also the continuation of the Tokaido Main Line west of Osaka through to Amagasaki (marked with a B).

This location would've also been in good proximity to the Umeda freight yards, if only they still existed! Instead the freight that comes through proceeds down to Ajikawaguchi, just before Universal Studios, Japan.

All freight heading west (to Kobe or further) uses the shortcut from Shin Osaka to the triangle just south of Kashima Station. This line follows under the Shinkansen via the passenger staging yards just adjacent to Shin Osaka Station.

The arrows in the tables below indicate the direction of travel. This is directly related to the maps above: being Westbound and being Eastbound.

Tokaido Main Line

This is the continuation of the line that originates in Tokyo. The final station is Kobe, just west of Osaka, where it becomes the Sanyo Main Line.

The apartment mentioned above has a view of this from the balcony...

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With the best view being from the fire-escape's top platform...

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From here, you'll be able to see all of the standard Tokaido-Sanyo Line EMUs...

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Plus a view extra express trains. For example, here's the Super Hakuto...

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And the Hamakaze...

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And even a dead-heading Thunderbird!

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You can even see out to Osaka station, amongst the other delights of the neighbourhood.

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There's more to see down on the ground-level... but before that, here's the timetable of trains you can expect to see. Note that the dead-headings aren't listed... I have no idea how to find those! (You could probably guess that if a Thunderbird arrived at Osaka and had no return service then it might come past 10-20 minutes after it arrived?)

Tokaido Line Timetable

The table below describes all the services that will traverse point A on the map above. Note that the time here indicates the action as Osaka Station. Therefore, if it's heading to Osaka (Arriving), then it's going to be ~1 minute prior to the time listed. Likewise, if departing, it'll be ~1 after the time. Regardless, I'd be in position ~5 pre/post any scheduled time.

Direction Arrive/Depart Osaka Service
0034 Sunrise Seto/Izumo
0737 Super Hakuto #1
0812 Kounotori #1
0910 Kounotori #3
0919 Super Hakuto #2
0924 Super Hakuto #3
0938 Hamakaze #1
1001 Hamakaze #2
1012 Kounotori #5
1119 Super Hakuto #4
1124 Super Hakuto #5
1211 Kounotori #9
1222 Hamakaze #3
1223 Kounotori #12
1320 Super Hakuto #6
1324 Super Hakuto #7
1411 Kounotori #13
1423 Kounotori #14
1511 Kounotori #15
1519 Super Hakuto #8
1524 Super Hakuto #9
1622 Kounotori #16
1705 Hamakaze #4
1718 Super Hakuto #10
1720 Kounotori #18
1726 Super Hakuto #11
1804 Hamakaze #5
1820 Kounotori #20
1931 Super Hakuto #12
1949 Kounotori #24
2005 Hamakaze #6
2006 Super Hakuto #13
2101 Kounotori #26
2104 Super Hakuto #14

Ground Level - Fukushima Station and the Express Line

A short walk south will get you to point B on the map right up top. This is the ground-level-crossing of the 'express line' that bypasses Osaka station from Shin-Osaka. Here'll you'll get all the south-bound express trains and a bit of freight!

First up, that perpetual impossibility! The M250 Super Rail Cargo!

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The Haruka will take you to Kansai International Airport...

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And tDSC00628he Kuroshio (ex Ocean Arrow series as well!) will take you to Shingu/Wakayama...

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You'll also see the new 'Osaka Power Loop' EMUs running up above...

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Osaka Loop Line / Wakayama Line Timetable

All passenger trains listed below depart/arrive at Shin Osaka. Therefore, the time needs to be adjusted by +/- ~4mins depending on direction of travel. Note that these trains approach the Fukushima area via the west side of the old Umeda freight yards! They're still at ground level when they cross the point marked B on the map above! They climb up to the Loop Line level by Noda Station.

I've mapped out the freight train timetable before, but I've also incorporated it into the table below. I've also snapped the Super Rail Cargo once before, but it was much easier this time as I just had to walk over.

Note that the freight times are squiggled. I've estimated when they should pass the area (not the time at Shin Osaka). I've only got the times at Suita and Ajikawaguchi. Check the link above for the more accurate times, or just arrive at the area 10 mins earlier than those times posted below.

Direction Arrive/Depart Osaka Service
~0505 JRF #59
~0512 JRF #51 (Super Rail Cargo M250)
0617 Haruka #1
0648 Haruka #3
0716 Haruka #5
0720 Kuroshio #2
0738 Haruka #2
0733 Kuroshio #1
0747 Haruka #7
0751 Kuroshio #4
0817 Haruka #9
0837 Haruka #4
0846 Haruka #11
~0850 JRF #91
0903 Kuroshio #3
0907 Haruka #6
0916 Haruka #13
0922 Kuroshio #6
0932 Kuroshio #5
0937 Haruka #8
(And then every 30 mins from here until 2100)
0950 Kuroshio #8
(And then every hour from here until 2050)
1000 Haruka #15
(And then every 30 mins from here until 2100)
1015 Kuroshio #7
(And then every hour until 2115)
~1048 JRF #1180 (Rail-Set Train)
~1140 JRF #93
~1620 JRF #1883 (Rail-Set Train)
~1715 JRF #90
~1825 JRF #5088
~2305 JRF #58
~2315 JRF #50 (Super Rail Cargo M250)
26Jul/150

Osaka Freight: Suita to Umeda Freight Terminal

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.

suita-to-osaka

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'd 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.

JR Freight Yards Umeda EF66-29 stabled EF200-14 stabled

DE10-1527, DE10-1575, EF210-9 Previous gantry? Kyoto-bound Haruka passes

Timetables

Times listed are between Suita and Osaka and don't relate to the map above :) I'll update that soon!

Southbound Suita Osaka
Service Origin Arrive Depart Arrive Comments
1069 Niiza 0616 0656 0705
3050 Fukuoka 0721 0742 0754
▲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
84 Hirano 1700 1705 1717
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
1089 Tokyo 0527 0605 0614
2074 Kagoshima ºº1248 1319 1330 (Timetable has ºº. Define this.)
3094 Kanazawa 0430 0508 0517
8098 Aomori 0039 0422 0433
1392 Hirano 1459 1501 1515 配給 = Light Engine Movement
1476 Suita –– 0926 0937 配給 = Light Engine Movement
Northbound Osaka Suita
Service Depart Arrive Depart Destination Comments
▲57 2043 2056 2058 Tosu ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
1066 2024 2033 2117 Tokyo
▲4059 2232 2241 2319 Niigata ▲ = 休日運休 (Not Holidays)
4061 2324 2333 0011 Sapporo
73 0824 0836 0848 Takamatsu
75 1547 1600 1630 Takamatsu
81 1112 1124 1126 Himeji
83 1124 1138 1212 Hirano
85 2105 2117 2127 Himeji
▲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)
2089 1211 1224 1226 Okayama
3095 1333 1343 1425 Kanazawa
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!

24Jul/150

Osaka Freight: Suita to Hirano (Kudara Terminal)

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.

google-maps-suita-hirano yahoo-maps-suita-hirano

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.

Timetables

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.

Southbound Suita Hirano
Service Origin Arrive Depart Arrive Comments
▲65 Tokyo 0542 0547 0623 ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
1067 Koshigaya 0442 0444 0515
83 Osaka 1138 1212 1251
(▲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.
8096 Sapporo 1352 1404 1440
Northbound Hirano Suita
Service Depart Arrive Depart Destination Comments
▲64 2129 2201 2232 Tokyo ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
84 1629 1700 1705 Osaka
▲1074 ~ (1076) 1945 2018 2044 Niiza ▲ = 百済(夕)-稲沢間 日曜日運休
(Not Sundays between Inazawwa[Evenings]-Hirano)
1078 2044 2144 2128 Koshigaya
▲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.
8097 2307 2342 0140 Sapporo
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!

16Jun/150

Taking the long way from Osaka to Kansai Airport

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.

Wakayama Line

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.

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Hanwa Line

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.

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Musota Station

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.

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You then get great shots from the north with the mountain range in the background.

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Yamanakadani Station

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.

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Shinge Station

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.

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Hineno Station

The branch to Kansai Airport starts here. The Haruka Express trains therefore stop here to allow connecting passengers to continue south to Wakayama.

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From here it was a quick transfer and trip through Rinku Town before arriving at Kansai International Airport.

25Feb/150

JR West Thunderbird

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!

Thunderbird passing Suita JR Tokaido Line to Osaka (from Ogaki) Thunderbird approaching Ogaki Thunderbird heading to Osaka Height limit

Thunderbird passing Suita Thunderbird heading to Osaka Thunderbird heading to Osaka

Twilight Express EF81 104 joins (passing Thunderbird) Thunderbird coming into ShinOsaka Thunderbird enters Toyama Station

Thunderbird paused at Toyama Station Thunderbird paused at Toyama Station_001 Thunderbird Set at Shin Osaka Station

Thunderbird passing Takatsuki Thunderbird passing Takatsuki Thunderbird heading to Osaka

Thunderbird heading to Osaka Thunderbird to Toyama Thunderbird arriving at Toyama

Thunderbird leaving Toyama

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.

2Feb/150

EMU Staging Yards, NE Takatsuki

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.

Towards Kyoto...

Takatsuki, looking at 3 sets of 321 Series towards Kyoto

And towards Osaka...

Takatsuki, looking towards Osaka.