Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Railway Museum

In the month of May, hubby had been to Tokyo on a work related trip for six days. I also accompanied him and did a lot of shopping all those days. May 23rd was a Sunday and so we decided to utilize that day to do some sightseeing. We visited the Railway Museum in Saitama city.

The Railway Museum (Tetsudo Hakubutsukan in Japanese) is located in Omiya ward of Saitama city in Saitama prefecture and was opened in 2007. It was built and is operated by the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of the East Japan Railway Company. The museum preserves the heritage and materials of railways of Japan as well as abroad. It is a historical museum that emphasizes the industrial history of the development of the railway system with displays of actual models. It is also an educational museum where research and development is conducted. People can learn about the principles, systems, and various technologies of railways through models, simulations, and play equipment. This museum is the successor to the Transportation Museum that was located in Chiyoda, Tokyo.

From Omiya railway station, we took Saitama Shin-toshi Kotsu New Shuttle train line which is just one stop to Tetsudo Hakubutsukan station. The museum is one minute walk away from this station. The New Shuttle is a monorail that runs next to a shinkansen line. We went into the front carriage and it was fun to watch the train driver operating the train.
In front of Saitama Shin-toshi Kotsu New Shuttle train railway station at Omiya

In the front carriage of New Shuttle monorail


While walking towards the entrance of the museum, we saw displays of engine parts and wheels of locomotives. We also saw the front end only, that is, the smokebox of Class D51 steam locomotive (Number: D51-426). After purchasing tickets worth 1000 Yen per person, we entered the museum. The museum has three floors, and after looking up the floor layout we decided to first see the History zone at the first floor.
In front of the Railway Museum

Display of engine parts and locomotive wheels

Locomotive wheels

Smokebox of Number D51-426 steam locomotive

Entrance of the Railway Museum

Hubby looking up the floor layout of the museum


First Floor
As soon as we entered the first floor of the museum, we a saw huge space called History zone. History zone is one of the main exhibits in the museum where the history and transitions in train technology and systems are introduced by theme and time period from the start of Japanese railways in the early Meiji period to the present. This zone is divided into seven categories.

1. Birth of railways
Locomotives active in the Meiji period are exhibited here.

First we saw a steam locomotive No.1 (Class: 150, Number: 150). It was one of the first steam locomotives (British built) used on Shinbashi - Yokohama line in 1872. It was manufactured in 1871. It was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1997 and as Railway Monument in 1958. The scenes of the 1870s original Shinbashi station are reproduced with the No.1 locomotive. No.150 engine's rear hook passenger car is a reproduction of the original passenger car and was exhibited in Manseibashi Museum from August 1970. A puppet of a lightman in Meiji period costume is seen on the roof of the passenger car.
Steam locomotive No.1 (Class: 150, Number: 150)

Side view of steam locomotive No.1

Hubby next to the steam locomotive No.1

Passenger car that is rear hooked to steam locomotive No.1


The next exhibit was Zenko steam locomotive (Class: 1290, Number: 1292) which was one of the earlier steam locomotives imported and used by Nippon Railway for railroad construction between Ueno and Kumagaya. Zenko Number 1292 was manufactured in 1881. The engine is named as Zenko because it was offloaded at Arakawa River dock near Zenkoji Temple in today's Kawaguchi city in Saitama prefecture. It was designated as a Railway Monument in 1959.
Zenko steam locomotive (Class: 1290, Number: 1292)

Side view of Zenko steam locomotive


The next exhibit was Benkei steam locomotive (Class: 7100, Number: 7101) which was the first steam locomotive on Horonai railway in Hokkaido (opened 1880). Benkei Number 7101 was manufactured in 1880 and designated as a Railway Monument in 1958. Hooked to the rear of Benkei locomotive is the passenger carriage named Kaitakushi (Class, Number: Kotoku 5010) that was manufactured in 1880. This special passenger car was imported from America for high-ranking officials of Hokkaido Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Colonization Office) riding Horonai railway.
Benkei steam locomotive (Class: 7100, Number: 7101). Passenger carriage Kaitakushi is hooked to the rear of Benkei.


We missed seeing one of the early passenger carriages under this category.


2. National railway network
Under this category, carriages are exhibited which were active from the end of Meiji period to Taisho period, when the railway network expanded throughout the country. Several carriages powered in a variety of ways are exhibited.

The first exhibit was Hanifu 1 passenger and luggage carriage (Class: De 963, Number: De 968). It was used by Kobu Railway between Iidamachi and Nakano (presently part of Tokyo's Chuo line). It was the first electrical railcar of the government after the railway nationalization in 1906-07. This carriage was manufactured in 1904.
Hanifu 1 passenger and luggage carriage (Class: De 963, Number: De 968)


The next exhibit on display was Class Nade 6110 electric railcar (Number: Nade 6141). ‘Na’ means weight about 30 tons and ‘de’ means motor car. It was the early phase urban commuter electric railcar and was the main commuter train on Tokyo's Yamanote line and Chuo line. This electric railcar was manufactured in 1914. It was designated as a Railway Monument in 1972. We went inside the carriage and appreciated the interior.
Class Nade 6110 electric railcar (Number: Nade 6141)

Me inside Nade 6110 electric railcar


Next we saw an exhibit named Class ED40 Abt rack-and-pinion electric locomotive (Number: ED40-10). It was the first domestically mass-produced rack track system electric locomotive and was used on 66.7% Usui Mountain Pass of government railways' Shinetsu main line. This preserved electric locomotive was manufactured in 1921. The maintenance scene of ED40 is reproduced here.
Class ED40 Abt rack-and-pinion electric locomotive (Number: ED40-10)


After this we saw an exhibit named Class ED17 electric locomotive (Number: ED17-1). It was one of the first imported electric locomotive (British-built) used to haul passenger trains on electrified Tokaido main line between Tokyo and Kozu. This electric locomotive was manufactured in 1923.
Class ED17 electric locomotive (Number: ED17-1)


Next we saw an exhibit named Class Kiha 41300 railcar (Number: Kiha 41307). ‘Ki’ means diesel (internal-combustion) railcar and ‘ha’ means 3rd passenger class (later 2nd class). It was the government railway’s first mass-produced gasoline railcar used on various local non-electrified lines. The displayed diesel car was manufactured in 1934.
Class Kiha 41300 railcar (Number: Kiha 41307)


We missed seeing a steam locomotive under this category.


3. Limited express services and commuter transport
Carriages used during the pre-World War II Showa period are exhibited under this category. Observation carriages of limited express trains as well as steam locomotives which pulled limited express and urban commuter trains are displayed.

The first exhibit we saw was Class C51 steam locomotive (Number: C51-5). It was the first domestically produced high-speed passenger locomotive used for express services on Tokaido main line and regional trunk lines. The displayed steam locomotive was manufactured in 1920.
Class C51 steam locomotive (Number: C51-5)


Next we saw a grand display of an exhibit named Class C57 steam locomotive (Number: C57-135). It was the first Japanese modern standard passenger engine and the Japanese national railway’s (JNR) last steam locomotive (1975) used to haul regular passenger trains on Muroran main line between Iwamizawa and Muroran in Hokkaido. The displayed locomotive was manufactured in 1940.
Class C57 steam locomotive (Number: C57-135)

Side view of C57 steam locomotive

Me in front of C57 steam locomotive

Wheels of C57 steam locomotive

Me maintaining and repairing C57 steam locomotive


In addition, there were two passenger carriages and an electric railcar on display under this category but we missed seeing them.


4. Mass transportation and electrification
Japan's railway system underwent technical advancement during and after World War II. Many local lines were electrif­ied, and carriages and facilities were modernized with the distribution of power transmission to individual carriages on electric and diesel trains.

The first exhibit we saw was Class Nahanefu 22 sleeping car (Number: Nahanefu 22-1). ‘Na’ means weight about 30 tons, ‘ha’ means 3rd (later 2nd) passenger class, ‘ne’ means sleeping car, and ‘fu’ means with conductor room. It was the first permanently-coupled type night train with generator car for carriage cooling and heating. This passenger car series was used for Asakaze limited express between Tokyo and Hakata. The sleeping car on display was manufactured in 1964.
Class Nahanefu 22 sleeping car (Number: Nahanefu 22-1)

Hubby in front of Nahanefu 22 sleeping car

Three tiered compartment of Nahanefu 22 sleeping car

Three tiered compartment of Nahanefu 22 sleeping car

Puppet of a railway staff inside three tiered compartment of Nahanefu 22 sleeping car


Next we saw an exhibit named Class Kuha 181 electric railcar (Number: Kuha 181-45). ‘Ku’ means driving car and ‘ha’ means 3rd (later 2nd) passenger class. It was Japan’s first electric multiple unit (EMU) for long distance limited express train with maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour and travel time of 6.5 hours between Tokyo and Osaka. The electric railcar on display was manufactured in 1965.
Class Kuha 181 electric railcar (Number: Kuha 181-45)


There was an electric locomotive and another electric railcar on display which we missed seeing.


5. Nationwide limited express network
The progress of AC electric technology that was established in the late 50s, led to the spread of electri­fied railroads nationwide. Trains capable of running on both AC and DC currents were developed, and as a result express and limited express train service became available nationwide.

The first exhibit we saw was Class Kuha 481 electric railcar (Number: Kuha 481-26). ‘Ku’ means driving car and ‘ha’ means 2nd passenger class. This is the first AC/DC limited express EMU for through services between DC and AC electrified sections in both east (50 Hz) and west (60 Hz) Japan. The displayed railcar was manufactured in 1965.
Class Kuha 481 electric railcar (Number: Kuha 481-26)


The next exhibit we saw was Class ED75 electric locomotive (Number: ED75-775). It was the first mass produced standardized AC electric locomotive used as cold and snow resistant 700 series on Uetsu main line and Ou main line. The electric locomotive on display was manufactured in 1975.
Class ED75 electric locomotive (Number: ED75-775). Photo is taken from the second floor.


Then we saw an exhibit named Class Kumoha 455 electric railcar (Number: Kumoha 455-1). ‘Ku’ means driving car, ‘mo’ means motor car, and ‘ha’ means 2nd passenger class. It was the first AC/DC EMU for express train used for through services between 50 Hz AC electrified sections and DC sections on Tohoku main line and Joban line. The displayed electric railcar was manufactured in 1965.
Third from left is Class Kumoha 455 electric railcar (Number: Kumoha 455-1). Photo is taken from the second floor. First and second exhibits from left are ED75 electric locomotive and Kuha 481 electric railcar (partially seen), respectively.


We missed seeing an electric railcar under this category.


6. Shinkansen
Various technologies accumulated since the Meiji period to overcome the constraints of narrow-gauge led to the birth of Tokaido shinkansen. It was launched to solve the transportation capacity problems of Tokaido main line which was reaching its limits.

The first exhibit we saw was the front of the first carriage of Tokaido shinkansen series 0 (Class 21, Number 21-25), which was a combination of highly reliable technology including AC electri­fication and the electric train propulsion method that enabled it to reach speeds of 200 kilometers per hour. The displayed shinkansen was manufactured in 1964.
Tokaido shinkansen series 0 (Class 21, Number 21-25)


The next exhibit was a series 200 model (Class 222, Number 222-35) which was the first generation of Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen with cold and snow countermeasures for running through regions with heavy snowfall. The displayed shinkansen was manufactured in 1982.
Series 200 shinkansen (Class 222, Number 222-35)


7. Freight transport
Since its beginning in Meiji period, the railway system has not only carried passengers but has handled cargo also. The history of rail freight transport is introduced under this category.

The first exhibit we saw was Class EF66 electric locomotive (Number: EF66-11). It was the most powerful high-performance DC locomotive for hauling high-speed express freight trains as well as all-sleeping-car limited express trains between Tokyo and Shimonoseki. The displayed electric locomotive was manufactured in 1968. We went inside the driver’s cabin of this electric locomotive and experienced the operation of the train by ourselves. It was really fun. I compiled a video of hubby starting the driving of EF66 locomotive.
Class EF66 electric locomotive (Number: EF66-11)

Hubby at driver’s seat inside EF66 electric locomotive


A compiled video of hubby starting the driving of EF66 locomotive


Next, we saw an exhibit named Class Koki 50000 container wagon (Number: Koki 50000). It was the main high-speed container freight wagon on Tokaido and Sanyo main lines. The displayed wagon was manufactured in 1971.
Class Koki 50000 container wagon (Number: Koki 50000)


We missed seeing a refrigerated wagon and a diesel locomotive under this category. But we finished seeing most of the trains displayed in the History zone.


Second floor
Next, we went to the second floor of the museum. From the second floor, we got a wonderful view of many of the trains exhibited in the History zone at the first floor. Class C57 steam locomotive was exhibited centrally and installed on a working turntable at the first floor. At 3 pm, there was an amazing demonstration on how trains change directions. The locomotive whistle was blown and the turntable was slowly rotated so that we got a thorough view of C57 steam locomotive from various angles standing at the second floor. We took a video of C57 steam locomotive rotating on a turntable.
Second floor of the Railway Museum

History zone as seen from the second floor

Trains exhibited at the History zone as seen from the second floor

Class C57 steam locomotive installed on a turntable


Video of C57 steam locomotive rotating on a turntable


Next, we went to see the Railway History Chronological Table at the second floor. It was really interesting to read the history of the railway system of Japan. There was a unique display of a collection of memorabilia and photographs. Various miniature models of shinkansen trains were also displayed here.
Railway History Chronological Table

Railway History Chronological Table

Display of miniature models of shinkansen trains


After this, we went to the Learning Hall located at the second floor where we came to know about various kinds of railway tracks and gauge system as well as the operation of railway wheels. From this hall, we got a beautiful view of cute miniature trains operating on miniature tracks outside at the first floor.
Hubby inside the Learning Hall standing next to a railway wheel

Hubby standing next to a model of a railway track and reading about the gauge system

Miniature trains operating on miniature tracks


Next, we went to the Collection Gallery located at the second floor. Here a collection of Japan railway memorabilia, station signs, uniforms, photographs, and various train logo signs were displayed. A few train platforms were also reconstructed.
Hubby standing next to a model of a notice board indicating departure and arrival timings of shinkansen trains

Display of various train logo signs


Third Floor
Next we went to the View Deck at the third floor. Here we saw two shinkansen trains pass by from a very close range.


We finished viewing the Railway Museum by 4.30 pm. The History zone of the museum with its amazing collection of old (and not so old) trains was superb. We had late lunch at a restaurant located inside the museum and then left the museum at about 5.30 pm. We returned back to the hotel in Asakusa where we stayed for a few days.

8 comments:

Gobinda Kundu said...

Ohhhhhhh.....Totally perplexed.For this reason I LOVE U so much....hats off to u for such informative article.

Laya's Blog said...

Manisha, pictures are amazing. Each picture very well illustrates the details you have mentioned.I esp loved the miniature locomotives in action picture.

Kazuo Nagata said...

It was my childhood dream to be a shinkansen driver. Zannen deshita.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Gobinda. I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos of various kinds of trains of Japan.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Laya. Nice to know that you liked the photos. I have a cute video of the miniature trains in action but did not upload it here.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

It would have been fun to be a shinkansen driver, isn't it Kazuo?

Anindya said...

Nice! I'm looking for such an article for a long time.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Great to know that you found this post useful Anindya.