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Some fresh electrons from Railfan News: by the end of 2019, JR Central will have a hybrid 4-car test formation. This will be a 4-car limited express type, which, if all goes well, will replace the KIHA85 someday. The KIHA85 is currently used on the Hida and Nanki services. JRC intends this to be the first Japanese hybrid to have an operational top speed of 120km/h. As I understand the article, batteries will be charged by both a diesel with alternator as well as regenerative braking. EMU-style traction motors will draw power from those batteries to propel the cars. This will reduce both cost and maintenance time. There will be only one engine per car, it will be silent during station stops, and this drive system lacks a gearbox, all contributing to an improvement in passenger comfort. Also, this type is expected to use 15% less fuel. If all goes well during one year of testing this prototype formation, endurance testing will begin (I'm not sure if this means revenue service or not). Following that, production cars could be manufactured in 2022. http://railf.jp/news/2017/06/08/090000.html
JR East took delivery of another HB-E300 trainset, intended for service as the Resort Shirakami Buna. Currently there is a modified KIHA40 formation with this name. This left J-Trec as a 3-car set: Car 1, HB-E301-5 Car 2, HB-E300-105 Car 4, HB-E302-5 Obviously car 3 is missing; its body will be also be built by J-Trec, but will be shipped to Akita Depot for final assembly. A tour of the train is scheduled for July 9 before revenue operation begins on July 16th. I think it's a nice basic design and a pleasant color/livery, even if it's just a wrap. Buna means Japanese beech, which I guess is what's illustrated on the side of the train. From a railfan point of view, this type has large windshields as well as large windows behind the driver's station, making for a nice view ahead (visible in these threads http://www.jnsforum.com/community/topic/7337-jr-east-tsugaru-line-shin-aomori-to-mimmaya and http://www.jnsforum.com/community/topic/3415-some-tohoku-scenery and I thought Bill posted some recently but now I can't find them :( ) http://railf.jp/news/2016/05/27/170000.html The second video above is at Shitte, and the third is at Nishi-Kokubunji. I assume this traveled by the Musashino South Line (a freight bypass), but after studying a map for literally minutes, I think the Nambu Line would have been possible too. Subsequent locations are Fukiage and Takasaki, so I guess they're just going straight up the Joetsu Line to Niigata and then on to Akita along the Sea of Japan. Sounds like a cool ride :). The presumably outgoing KIHA40-based Buna formation at Ueno on April 10 for a sort of open day:
HD300-501, the first 500 subseries unit of the HD300 hybrid locomotive, has arrived in Hokkaido at Naebo Depot. All have been built by Toshiba. The title of the video below, by tobu2181, says it's a cold weather variant. http://railf.jp/news/2014/11/09/173000.html