Every year in March, a revision of service plan is held in some form, with new trains starting to operate, new line and new stations beginning their use etc., improvement of usability
and such, there are all these great things happening around this time.
On the other hand, there are sad news, such as some trains ending their operation.
The JR line will adjust their service plan diagram on 13th of March, soon to come, and the sleeper express [Hokuriku
] and midnight express [Noto
will both end their run at the same time, causing it to be one of the topic of discussion. The [Hokuriku] and [Noto] are night trains that connects
Ueno and Kanazawa. They also have a long history, with valuable points each. I think I will introduce the product relating to these two, while revisiting the memories of them.
Although I unfortunately haven't had the chance to go on one, so it will be memories viewed from outside.
[Midnight Express Noto]
At present, [Noto] is running by limited express train series 489
series 489 has a bonnet type leading train, one of the few formations to have them these days, and it's the last to be used as a regular train. Also, there aren't many of this cream
and red [JNR limited express coloring] trains left these days.
- JR Series 489 Midnight Express 'Noto' : 2009 601M Kana-Sawa H1 Formation (Basic 5-Car Set)
- JR Series 489 Midnight Express 'Noto' : 2009 601M Kana-Sawa H1 Formation (Add-On 4-Car Set)
Kato has been releasing night train series in N-scale since 2 years ago, but this time, coincidentally the release period and the train ending its run happened to overlap, becoming
the topic of conversation in the world of model trains.
This [Noto] here, I personally get the impression of the Home Liner first. Home liner is a fix-capacity style train that you can ride with a cheap ticket, running its forwarding
operation simultaneously while the car itself is free.
Before, I saw a mysterious train without its head mark lit up, during the evening rush hour on the platform of Keihin Tohoku Line quite often, and this was the Home liner using the
series 489. During the spare time before the series 489 operates as the [Noto], it runs as [Home liner Konosu] of Takasaki line
and [Home liner Koga] of Utsunomiya line
, running a lap between Ueno and its end stations each. To me, this appeared as if it's
warming up or something, I thought. Back then, I always commuted on the series 209 of Keihin Tohoku line, thinking it wouldn't be surprising if there is a machine trouble and stops
running, but on the other side, there was the Home liner on the Utsunomiya line, that lets people elegantly ride a limited express style train home with a cheap ticket, which I found
Of course, there were times I saw the [Noto] that departed from Ueno, at Nippori station. The car interior, brightly lit by fluorescent lighting, never gave me the impression of it
being too full. I saw on the [Noto], running right past before my eyes, a group of young people close to my age, with their luggage and snowboard gears or something, laughing and
having a good time. Ah, it's a Friday night. I wonder where they are gonna be snowboarding this weekend, I thought. At that time, I was waiting for the train on the Joban line
Sleeper Express [Hokuriku]
At present, the [Hokuriku] is running as EF64 series (car no. 1000s) electric
+ series 14 limited
- Kato EF64 1000 Standard color
- PRMLOCO EF64 1000 Standard color
The steam locomotive pulling is the standard color EF64 series 1000, and each company has released that particular train as models. Each company also has the series 14 productized,
but there are none sporting the name of [Hokuriku] at the moment, so you will have to pick a suitable train to recreate your own formation.
this is off topic, but I believe To*ix or someone will create the [Good Bye Hokuriku] kind of model, although I have nothing to back up the belief.
This is also reminiscence, about something I saw, late at night. It was on the way home from work, and I was staring into space at the Nippori station of Joban line, round about the
time the last train for the day is nearing, there was a train going past with a small white light on the other rail. This is a [Hokuriku] before its departure, running from the Oku
train center to Ueno station as a [Suisen Kaisou (propelled out-of-service car)], which basically is an out of service train running on reverse. On the tail car, which is actually the
leading car at this point, there is a number of staff with yellow helmet, with a transceiver looking thing in the their hands, probably communicating with the steam engine driver in
the steam locomotive right at the back, pushing the train. Mindlessly seeing it off, thinking that it will pick up passengers at Ueno station and head off to Kanazawa.
Also on another late night after work, I saw a [Hokuriku] that had just departed from Ueno station, but unlike the previous line, it runs north along the Utsunomiya line. From inside
the windows of [Hokuriku] running past, there is warm light of the light bulb leaking out. You could see a man sitting on the side-seats at the passage, looking out the window of the
train with a can of beer in one hand. I don't know if he will keep drinking 'til dawn, or if he will go sleep on the sleeper car once he finish, but either way, the train will cross
from the Pacific Ocean side to the side of the sea of Japan while he is relaxing, and reach Kanazawa by sun rise. I couldn't help thinking how different his life is, compared to mine,
as I sit under the cold of a winter night, waiting for the train at the platform of Nippori station of Joban line. It's a completely different world, with a barrier in between.
These reminiscences were from a time long before I came to Hobby Search... But I think you can see glimpse of a variety of human drama on the night trains. There was a sight of people
enjoying the relaxation of traveling, not the speed of it. It really is nice I think, because it gets you to your destination while you sleep, after all.
The [Hokuriku] and [Noto] will end their run as of the train departing on the night of March 12th. That's another one, two less night trains departing from Tokyo's "Gateway to the
North", a.k.a. Ueno station. I guess those that remains are only [Cassiopeia
], and [Akebono
], it seems.
At Ueno station and along the rail, there are already many people gathering to photograph the two trains, but those of you who intend to go take pics or just look, please be careful
not to have an accident. Also, try not to get in the way of people taking photos, don't use flash at the train, don't go beyond the yellow lines at the platform, don't enter private
properties and areas for the railway, and follow the instructions of the staff (such as the station staff), and behave with manners.
So I may have gone off topic quite a bit, but even if the real train is gone, they can remain running eternally in the world of railway models. So why not keep a model of [Hokuriku]
and [Noto] by your side?