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About westfalen

  • Birthday 07/26/1960

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    Ipswich, QLD, Australia
  1. Which Turbotrain to buy?

    The early Amtrak scheme was on the train that demonstrated on the Santa Fe in the west and I could stretch the truth a bit and say Amtrak put it into service in Texas. It would be less of a stretch than a pair of DD51s rolling through with the Hokutosei.
  2. Shin-Osaka Webcam

    Typical railway, some poor sods have to keep working through the typhoon.
  3. Thailand September 2017

    I spent the middle of the day riding the BTS Skytrain, Bangkok's elevated rapid transit system. There appear to be two types of train in service. The country was still in the year long mourning period for the late King and all stations had a memorial to him, some more elaborate than others. Even in Japan I don't think I've ever seen a station with a contact lens kiosk. One for the bus fans. A typical Bangkok bus, most were considerably more beat up looking than this one. In the evening I went out to Bang Sue Junction in the northern suburbs to video part of the procession of overnight sleeper trains heading for country destinations. The construction site in the background is a new station that will replace the Hua Lamphong station downtown which will then only see local commuter trains. I mostly took video after dark but this is train No.173 rapid service to Nakon Si Thammarat in the far south of the country departing Bangkok at 1735 and arriving at its destination 816 km away at 0955 next morning. SRT still handles parcels or express traffic much of it carried in spare coaches rather than baggage cars. Who the %#@&#% ordered this fridge? There is even international freight, this crate was bound for Laos. The station cat gave me a wary look but let me give him a pat, he seemed more concerned about the ever present stray dogs. Back in town Hua Lamphong station looked pretty good with the lights on.
  4. Thailand September 2017

    The next morning I wandered across the street from my hotel to Bangkok's main station, Hua Lamphong. I believe SRT's oldest locos are these U.S. built GEs from the 1960s, double ended variants of the locos on the White Pass and Yukon. A special express railcar gets a wash before its next run. No automatic car wash here with so much cheap labour. Fellow Queenslanders will recognise these former Brisbane suburban cars sold to Thailand in the 1990s. The original passenger doors for our high level platforms have been sealed and new doors with steps added at the ends. The train was a commuter run from Lop Buri. This one had gotten new seats. The only Japanese sleeping cars I saw up close were these which appear to be used for something like the Japanese Joyful Trains, possibly able to be attached to regular services for a fee. I walked around to the station throat and videoed shunting of trains in and out for a while, being a dead end terminus there was a lot of activity. They don't seem to throw anything away, beside the coach repair shops were piles of old airconditioners, batteries and fans.
  5. I hardly think railfans would be surprised, what else are they going to pull it with these days? Apart from the Cassiopeia I reckon I could do the same thing quite a bit cheaper myself using a JR Pass.
  6. I was asked if I was going to post any photos from the Thailand part of the trip. I decided to have a three day stopover there on the way back from Japan to check the place out and see if their railways were worth a longer visit. Day 1. I flew out of Haneda Airport, another first for me. It's a pity flights to and from Australia don't use it, it's much more convenient than Narita and not as busy. My Thai Airlines flight was a 747, a rare bird these days, and there were two more parked at the terminal at Bangkok. There was a familiar face peeking at me at the Airport Rail Link station. The service is operated by the Thai State Railways (SRT) and my 25 km trip to Makkasan station where I could connect with the subway to my hotel near the main railway station cost 35 baht (about AUD$1.40), a bargain compared to Brisbane's Airtrain who charge $18 for an 8 km trip. The walkway to the subway station passed over Asok station on SRT's eastern line and I realised I wasn't in neat, tidy and everything in it's place Japan anymore. While many Japanese stations feature cats stray dogs have the run of Thai stations and it beats me why the woman with the snack cart was standing in the puddle of water. A quick glance at the timetable showed No.282 ordinary from Kabin Buri to Bangkok was due so I waited for my first look at a Thai train, a set of Japanese built railcars. Around the corner from my hotel was the local version of 7-11, not quite as good as the Japanese ones but still selling most items you would want including familiar brands like Meiji.
  7. September 2017

    Yes, it's about 2km from Hayakawa or 3km from Nebukawa to the vantage point above the bridge but the bus from Odawara only cost 290 yen and I could use my Suica card so I though why walk and saved my legs for the climb up from the main road to the bridge. There is also a bridge near Nebukawa station that I have seen in many photos but it now has fences along the side and it doesn't look as photogenic as it used to so I went for Ishibashi.
  8. September 2017

    I may post some in the non-Japan forum, and edit up some video of my trip onto YouTube to post as well. I'd say about half and half. I am spending more time in recent trips railfanning than riding. I don't spend as much time visiting hobby shops either unless they are on my way somewhere, apart from the Shosen Book Tower to pick up the latest timetables I didn't go near a single one this trip. I figure that seeing I can get everything on line my time in Japan is better spent riding and seeing real trains. It used to be the opposite because I am a bit of a mileage collector, I've ridden every line on Hokkaido and Shikoku and coming close to filling in Kyushu, so I guess as I get less new lines to do I'm more willing to spend time in one place. For example I spent almost four hours at Ishibashi filming trains on the Tokkaido Line bridge because that was the time between buses from Odawara. Google Earth, Google Maps and street view have been very useful in finding photo locations and how to get to them, something only in science fiction when I did my first Japanese trip in 1990, back then you often had no idea where you were going and what you would see when you got there.
  9. MicroAce - New Releases

    I wonder how licenses apply for modelling steam locos? For instance the C11 which has been done in N scale by Kato, Micro Ace, Tomix and Tramway and possibly others and the prototype I believe was built by four different companies. Did they all have to apply for licenses from all the companies that built and owned them, which now includes Tobu? Can Micro Ace still make C11 207 as an Hokkaido loco now it is owned by Tobu? Who holds the rights for the C54? All hypothetical questions, I'm just mulling over how ridiculous it all can get.
  10. I was looking at checking out Doai on my recent trip (it's been on my to do list for 20 years) but decided to do the Seikan Tunnel Park instead. I had worked out a timetable for myself that would allow me to get a freight passing the underground platform and another on the spiral at Yubiso as well as get to Echigo-Yuzawa and back but it is a bit awkward from Tokyo because of the limited passenger services so I decided to leave it for a future trip and stay in Takasaki so I can do a few other things in that area as well.
  11. It's hidden away on the Tobu Railway's Japanese website. http://www.tobu.co.jp/sl/information/guide/ It doesn't even rate a mention on their English language website. It also shows up on Hyperdia if you search on the days it runs. http://grace.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/intervaltime.html?dep_node=SHIMO-IMAICHI&arv_node=KINUGAWA-ONSEN&search_target=intervaltime&diagram=87456&year=2017&month=10&day=21&searchday=20171021
  12. September 2017

    After the freight action was over I headed north to Iwaki take the Banetsu-East Line to Koriyama, the last section of the Banetsu Line I had to ride. Kiha 110 and Kiha 111/112 railcars provide the services on the line. This was beside the track at Ogawago. The line struck me as having more trackage and sidings left in place than most JR branchlines, as here at Kawamae. Every station needs one of these things. If you don't have much room to model a platform then Kanameta is the place for you. Crossing the Abukuma River on the outskirts of Koriyama. Koriyama fuel depot is about 1 km out along the branch and HD300-11 that had dropped some tank cars off followed my train into the yard. For the last shot EH500-42 was just sitting there waiting for me to take its photo. The next morning I flew out of Haneda, the first time I had used that airport, for my first visit to Bangkok and a couple of days checking out Thailand's railways on the way home.
  13. September 2017

    On Day 7 and my final day in Japan I ventured north on the Joban Line to Izumi to get some video of the freight only Fukushima Seaside Railway. DD 561 arrived dead on time as train No.52 with the Toho Zinc ore loads for handing over to a JR Freight EH500 for onward movement to Annaka near Takasaki. DD 561 then returned as train No.53 light engine to Onahama to collect the day's outward container train. The light engine, like everything else I saw that day, left dead on time to the second as an indication of how Japan runs its freight trains. Train No.54 outwards containers. The driver of EH500-32 receives instructions from the ground staff before shunting the inwards containers into the yard. Train No.55 heads back to Onahama with the inwards containers. A few odd shots around Izumi between trains. Got an old anchor lying around from your ship modelling days? An old set of scales left to rust in the weeds in part of the freight yard now turned into a car park for commuters. An old wamu in use as a storage shed.
  14. September 2017

    Densha is correct, I didn't venture onto Hokkaido this trip although the Shinkansen north of Shin-Aomori is technically JR Hokkaido and Okutsugaru-Imabetsu station is operated by them.
  15. I just want to see a Shinkansen plough through water at 320kph, but probably not a good idea to stand too close.