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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)
4Sep/150

Osaka – Umeda and Hirano – August 2015

The goal was simple... there's a freight train that runs from Umeda to Hirano and there's enough time to catch it at Shin-Osaka, bolt to Hirano and catch it again. Of course... this would be correct... if Umeda Freight Yard still existed. Little did I know that, whilst waiting at Shin Osaka station, the yard had been demolished some 3 years earlier!

The timetables I posted here were initially wrong. Wherever I had 'Umeda' should have actually been 'Osaka'. I thought 'Osaka' (from the freight train timetable) meant 'Umeda'... but it actually meant the yard right next to the Shinkansen depot out past Senrioka!

Shin-Osaka Station

I waited here for a while to see the freight head through to Umeda. Instead I got to see the standard array of express trains. Mixed in with these was a freight heading to Ajikawaguchi which caught me off-guard. You can find the timetables for Suita to Ajikawaguchi here.

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The Ocean Arrow/Kuroshio in pictured above actually left 5 minutes late. That last picture shows the driver hanging out the front of the train with the stationmaster discussing something that was preventing him from leaving. What I didn't capture was the guard bolting down the platform with a few sheets of paper that must have been the timetable/run-sheet that you see paper-clipped in the cabin. It seems the driver was issued with the wrong one, as he swapped the one in the train with the one the guard delivered. The train then departed.

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It was 30 minutes past the time that the train was meant to arrive and I decided to cut my losses. These trains are usually very close to clockwork and the Ajikawaguchi train had passed... so it was time to go.

Transit to Hirano

I took the Haruka Airport Express to Tennoji (thanks Rail Pass!) and then a local to Hirano. It was a quick trip. Of course, the goal was to pass the freight yard to see if there was any activity. Instead I was presented with the following...

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I think I let out a big 'Ohhhhh....' at that point and had fellow passengers look oddly at me. Everything clicked. I was glad I'd left, but unhappy that I'd waited so long at Shin-Osaka. This is Japan... if the train doesn't arrive 5 minutes after schedule then move on.

Hirano Station

This is a little station on the line to Nara. I've posted the freight timetable for this yard here. It is located two stations east of Tennoji and you must take a local service on the Yamatoji Line to get there. The stop between Hirano and Tennoji is Tobushijomae and is located on the south-west corner of the freight yard I sought out. Stay on the left side of the train between these two stations and you'll get a good view of what's about to depart.

The yard has three staging roads immediately next to the passenger lines, but at ground level... the passenger lines are elevated. In these roads you'll find made up trains that have just been delivered, or are about to depart. Trains that arrive are staged here whilst either the engine that brought them runs around or the yard worker takes them away. There is a shunt road that runs right up beside Hirano station for this purpose.

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I ventured out to Hirano on a Wednesday. As I passed the yard, I saw an EF66 about to carry out this very task. I got to the station in time to see it shunt right up next to the platform. It proceeded back into the yard and everything was quiet. There are occupation indicators line-side on the freight shunting roads that show you if anything is approaching. They'll flash if the track is occupied and stay lit if nothing is happening. Note that the flashing indicates that the road is in use. The train on the road may not come all the way up to the station. The points are situated a fair way back west and the shunting will only reach the station when long consists are being worked.

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I followed the timetable and realised that there was an inbound freight due. From the city-bound platform, you can see the triangle to the east where the freight trains come from. It didn't take long before a freight came in, 5 minutes early. This was dragged through by an EF210. After this, there was nothing scheduled for a few hours... of course, I stupidly only looked at inbound traffic.

DSC08242I was out of time and had to head back... completely failing to look at the outbound traffic timetable. As I left at 1pm on a local back to Tennoji, I passed an EF81 on its way to Suita. Totally pissed off, I was. EF81s are a favourite and I've taken a shot of one very similar to this one before... years before! In Umeda Yard! This poor old thing has been hanging around Osaka just waiting for me to return!

I returned to the apartment only to find that everyone else was still shopping... so... knowing that Hirano was 10 minutes from Tennoji, I ventured back to see the ~2pm services (one inbound and one outbound.)

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An EF210 came in, 10 minutes early... and then the EF66 I'd seen earlier proceeded to Suita with a short rake of flats.

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There was now nothing due until after 5pm, so I decided to call it a day and visit Den Den Town. I'd come back later to catch the EF81 in action.

Hirano Station, 2nd Attempt

My second attempt was carried out on a Friday. I based my plan around the 1pm depature of the EF81. Arriving at 12, I hoped to see at least one service... but absolutely nothing came through. The yard had zero workers and zero locomotives... just a few rakes of half-built consists. As I passed the yard on the way in I could see that nothing was happening, but I waited in vain anyway. Fail.

What was worse? The platform indicators were showing 'Pass' on the nearest platform to the yards. I'd not seen a pax go through here at all... so I sat, staring at the indicator... waiting for that "Train approaching" sign. Hours. Nothing. Oh well... they must program the slots in and not cancel them.

Hirano Station, 3rd Time Lucky

This time I attacked the station on a Monday. As I passed the yard on the local train, the EF81 was not there. It had been there waiting to depart the first time I'd visited and so I was worried. This time there were other locos in the yard, but none ready to head out.

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I got to the station, parched. There was nothing due for about halfa so, despite the platform board showing a 'Pass', I ventured to the city-bound platform for a beverage. There are no vending machines on the outbound platform. Lo'and'behold, my favourite EF81 bolts past just as I'm on the other side, inserting coins. I leave half the coins inserted, grab the camera and got a few photos... school kids nearby were wondering why a photo was more important than a drink...I smiled.

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Not to be fooled again.. I proceeded back to the outbound platform and caught the next freight coming in. Turns out there was also a young railfan there doing the exact same thing.

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Passing time was easy... there was a local every so often and expresses interspersed.

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And then it happened... the EF81 came through and the world was at peace.

26Jul/150

Osaka Freight: Suita to Ajikawaguchi (Super Rail Cargo)

This line is an extension of the Suita to Umeda freight/express-train line that runs from Shin-Osaka Station to the Umeda Freight Yards.

suita-to-ajikawaguchi

This line continues further south-west, rising back up to the height of the kanjosen and then branching off on the Yumesaki Line to Universal Studios Japan. Before this though, is Ajikawaguchi freight yards. The home of Sagawa Transport's M250!

This freight train is famous... it's actually an EMU high-speed express freight service that runs through the night to get your urgent deliveries to Tokyo. The opposing service departs Tokyo at the same time and they pass somewhere half-way along the Tokaido Main Line in the middle of the night.

Due to its timetable, you'll really only ever see it resting in the Ajikawaguchi yard. Sometimes I've seen it photographed in the early morning at the Tokyo end, but never really in daylight when moving.

Due to this, I still haven't managed to properly photograph this train. I've seen it depart Ajikawaguchi once and you can find a post with a movie of the departure over here.

Rail-set Train

The last column on each table is a rail-set train. I've seen this pass before from an assortment of locations.

EF210-5 with two flatbeds EF210 departs Umeda Yards Freight from Sakurajima
Freight heading to Sakurajima Station Freight approaching Noda Station Freight approaching Noda Station

Ajikawaguchi

This area is difficult to photograph, but there is a large level crossing on which you can gently walk into the middle of and take photos. Just be very considerate and respect the requests of staff if they ask you to get out of the way!

Super Rail Cargo in Sakai Yards EF210 in Sakai Yards Sesame Street 103 Series to Universal Studios

Timetables

As per previous Osaka timetables, all times are up until Suita. I'll look into extending the SRC through to Tokyo at a later date.

Southbound Suita Ajikawaguchi
Service Origin Arrive Depart Arrive Comments
▲51 Tokyo –– 0511 0526 ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
▲59 Tokyo –– 0451 0510 ▲ = 土 or 休日運休 (Not Saturdays or Holidays)
(4078) ~ (1081) ~ 91 Sendai ºº0723 0833 0900 ºº = ??
▲93 Osaka 1102 1111 1157 ▲ = 月曜日運休 (Not Mondays)
(1881) ~ 1883 Kyoto 1447 1603 1628 Rail-set or 'other' cargo.
Northbound Ajikawaguchi Suita
Service Depart Arrive Depart Destination Comments
▲50 2309 –– 2324 Tokyo ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
▲58 2259 2320 2328 Tokyo ▲ = 土 or 休日運休 (Not Saturdays or Holidays)
▲90 1703 1739 1742 Osaka ▲ = 日曜日運休 (Not Sundays)
5088 ~ (3089) 1818 ºº1851 1944 Sendai ºº = ??
1180 ~ (1182) 1040 ºº1127 1225 Kyoto ºº = ??
Rail train or 'other' cargo.

I will go back and get the Super Rail Cargo once more!