Freight Trains of Sumida Crossing

EH200 and Tanks 2038

My model railroad is primarily a passenger railroad. That’s not because there is no freight in Japan, or even in Tōkyō, but freight is definitely second to passenger service in a nation where most of the population lives close to ports, and trains have to compete with both trucks and ships. As a result, freight in Japan largely means containerized cargo and bulk products such as petroleum, although boxcars and other general-freight cars are still in use. Freight trains in Japan tend to be relatively short, often just a dozen or two cars, or even just a few.

I had wanted to include a small freight branch in my layout, but eventually realized that the track would interfere with other aspects of my design, and gave up. However, since freight trains do mix with passenger trains outside the center of the urban area, and it is not surprising to see a freight train running through a passenger station, I do have a few freight cars and locomotives I’ll use, with the intent to run whole trains to and from the storage tracks for a bit of variation.

Kato Warm DE10 2223
Kato DE10

The DE10 is one of the most common locomotives in Japan, and one of very few diesel units (although it is actually a diesel-hydraulic unit, rather than diesel-electric; it has a mechanical transmission). These are widely used in yards and on work trains in electrified areas (and on branch line freight trains). I have several gondolas and older container flat cars that can serve as rail carriers, to make up a work train similar to those I’ve seen in photos and online video. I have three DE10 locomotives, my original Tomix unit, and two of Kato’s new model (which has a flywheel, and is reportedly easier to convert to DCC, so the Tomix unit may be retired).

EF210-100 1209

The EF210 is widely used as motive power for container trains. I have several container flatcars that can be used to make up such a train.

EH200 2038

The EH200 is used on the Chūō Main Line to haul unit petroleum tank trains, and I have a few of those tank cars, although not quite enough to make a respectable train (I need to buy more).

One of the coolest, and most distinct, trains in Japan is the M250 Super Rail Cargo Freight EMU. Kato makes a model of it, and I have one on reservation (all 16 cars of it, which should be impressive to see in action).

And that is it, at least for now. I don’t have anything that would represent a general-freight train. I’d need some additional freight cars to make one, and I’ll probably eventually add a different locomotive (or use the second DE10) for that. I’m also missing a dual-voltage locomotive, such as the EH500 used on the Jōban line. However, aside from color this looks very much like the EH200, and as it’s used for container trains, rather than general freight (as least as far as I can tell), it wouldn’t add much variation. Still, it’s something to consider for the future.

For more information about freight in and around Tōkyō, see my Freight pages. Both the Locomotives and Freight Lines pages in that section have been recently updated.

Other website changes:
- Construction is ongoing, if going more slowly than hoped. I’ve updated the “phase 2h” Construction page with recent work and the Construction photo album has also been updated. Mostly this involves painting, although some more work has been done on the expressway supports.
- Photos of several recent additions, including the Kato DE10, have been added to the Roster Photo album, and the Roster page (and subordinate pages) updated.

== Comments from old system:
Monday, July 12, 2010 - 12:33 PM
The EH500 is for the Tohoku line: It was designed to be able to traverse the Seikan Tunnel without the need to change locos for a pair of ED79's, as most other through trains must do. The Joban line sees EF64-1000's and EF510-0's—the latter being designed specifically for Joban line duty. The Joban line sees container, gasoline, and grain traffic (apparently Kirin has a major brewing hub in Sendai?). Grain might be a fun bulk freight to model. EF81's run on both the Tohoku and Joban line, including ones in JR East livery! So you could make a Hokutosei livery'd train do doubt duty if you wanted.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 10:29 PM
Yeah, Tohoku, that's what I meant. :-) I got the line right on my Freight Locomotives page, but somehow swapped lines when I was writing this page. I wasn't aware the EF510-0 ran on the Joban line though, wikipedia seemed to suggest that they were all assigned to Toyama Depot for Sea of Japan coastal use. Cool. Now I have an excuse to get one.

What kind of car do the Kirin grain trains use? That does sound like something enough different from containers and tankers to be worth having. I'd also been thinking of some WAMU boxcars for paper, as apparently there's a fair bit of that traffic around the edges of Tokyo (Omiya and other places), or maybe a general freight (mixed Boxes, Gons and whatever else I can find YouTube prototypes for).