Getting there is half the fun, or so the adage goes – and this very often rings true for a railway enthusiast who undertakes a long-distance journey in the train paradise that is Japan.
Today’s trip takes me from Ōsaka to Takamatsu, capital of Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. We’ll have a look at the sightseeing I did there in a future post, but for the moment, let’s turn the spotlight on the trains that brought me to my destination.
Shin-Ōsaka Station is a depressingly bland, shamelessly utilitarian, and quite hopelessly outdated piece of architecture (though ongoing renovations have spiced things up somewhat). That said, it’s a key transportation hub and a rich variety of rolling stock screeches past its many platforms at almost all hours of the day.
Over at the shinkansen section, my attention was drawn to the sleek, shark-like profile of a 500 Series Shinkansen…
…though not for very long, as the train soon pulled out to make room for the beast I was actually going to ride that morning: a JR West N700-7000 Series Shinkansen on the Sakura 547 service (departing Shin-Ōsaka 0804). This particular set is number S8, constructed by Kinki Sharyō and delivered on 14 January 2011.
I’ve previously featured the Green Car (first class compartment) of this train type in past posts, so let’s recycle a few of my older images to show what the interiors are like.
For a more complete picture, here are some images of the Reserved Ordinary Car – also taken on a past journey – from the same model of train. The N700-7000 and the similar N700-8000 differ from older N700 variants in offering this intermediate class of seating: not quite as luxurious as Green (but with the same spacious 2+2 abreast configuration), yet better than Non-Reserved Ordinary (where seats are cramped 2+3 to a row).
And away we go.
At 0854, I disembarked at Okayama Station and transferred to the local platforms for my connection to Takamatsu. Whilst waiting for departure, I stole a quick shot of a nearby JR Shikoku 8000 Series EMU.
I didn’t ride that particular train on this occasion, but here are a few images of the Green Car taken on a previous trip.
The train pulled out of Okayama at 0905, with a scheduled arrival time of 0958 at Takamatsu.
After my arrival, I headed for Platform 1 to catch a Kōtoku Line local service bound for Ritsurin-Kōen-Kitaguchi Station, the nearest stop to my first sightseeing point of the day (more on that in a future post). Whilst I was waiting for the next train, an inbound service stopped at the platform and disgorged a healthy load of passengers. To my sheer delight, it was a three-part set consisting of different single-car vehicles coupled together.
At the front was a 1500 Series DMU. This particular specimen was vehicle number 1566, bearing an oval builder’s plate dated 2013 and identifying the manufacturer as Kinki Sharyō. 1566 was part of the 7th batch of 1500 Series DMUs assembled for JR Shikoku.
Linked up to the first car was another 1500 Series train, but of an earlier and slightly different sub-type; note the variances in the door and windshield. This was vehicle number 1555, the builder’s plate of which was dated 2010 (batch 4 of the class) and stamped with the name of Niigata Transys.
Hauling the rear was a 1200 Series DMU, number 1231 to be precise – one of 18 1000 Series DMUs that were modified in 2008 to enable joint workings with the newer 1500 type. Number 1231 was the oldest car in this trio, with a builder’s plate to match: the date was given in traditional fashion as “Heisei 4” (i.e., 1992) and it bore the name of Niigata Tekkōsho (the now-defunct predecessor company of Niigata Transys). Judging from the manufacturing date, 1231 was originally part of the second batch of type 1000s constructed for JR Shikoku.
Soon the three-car set pulled out and a lone 1200 Series DMU took its place. Number 1249, whose builder’s plate also named Niigata Tekkōsho as the manufacturer and gave the date of construction as “Heisei 7” (1995), indicating that it had once been part of the third batch of type 1000s.
After a few minutes, I got off at Ritsurin-Kōen-Kitaguchi Station, to which I later returned after my visit to Ritsurin-kōen. Now I don’t normally feature train stations in these rail reports (preferring to focus on rolling stock), but I’d like to throw in a few shots of this nice little stop: so small that it only has a single platform serving both directions, and with no staff on duty (just a ticket machine at the foot of the entrance stairs).
And that’s all for the moment, friends. As promised, we shall have more to talk about in a future post (or posts) when I tell the tale of my travels around Takamatsu, but until then…