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Page first written 27 June 2003
Last updated 27 June 2003
"Ration" of National Railway's Series 63 emus to private railways
Tobu's Series 5000 memo
Before going into the description of Tobu Railway's Series 5000 emus, we have to go through Series 63 emus of Japanese National Railways, which the Government "rationed" some private railways in 1946, just after the end of World War II. Technically speaking, Tobu's Series 78 emus (predecessor of Series 5000) can be regarded as a minor variation of this Series 63.
The "ration" was undertaken in the view that the private railway companies, damaged by bombardments during the War and the subsequent period of chaos, could cope with the traffic demand by using those railcars, which was of "wartime design" and was easy to manufacture. The companies that received the distribution were then expected to dispose some of the smaller railcars that they currently own to other companies. Tobu Railway received 40 Series 63 vehicles. Other companies that received this "ration" at the same time were Odakyu Electric Railway (then part of Tokyu combine), Meitetsu (Nagoya Railroad), Kintetsu (Kinki Nippon Railway) and Nankai Electric Railway.
Series 63, with 20-metre-long carbodies which were larger than most railcars working on these private railways, were not necessarily convenient for their services. One exception seemed to be Odakyu, where rather frequent exchange of trains with the National Railway network existed; however, other companies, including Tobu, did have problems. For example, Tobu had to modify its Asakusa terminal, where even now a very steep curve exists resulting in a huge gap between the train and the platform, to accept Series 63 there. However, as infrastructure modifications like this went on and problems regarding acceptance of Series 63 were resolved, the company recognised the merit of the large capacity of Series 63 fleet. On the other hand, Meitetsu could not solve the problem and sold all of Series 63 to Odakyu and Tobu (Tobu got 14 of them in 1949).
Finally, Tobu has got 40 originally distributed Series 63 plus 14 from Meitetsu, and four railcars (Class 360), which also had 20-metre car body and were bought by Tobu after it was sold by the National Railways because of their "damage by bombardment", and the total number of "Series 63" that Tobu got was as much as 58. Later on, all cars of the fleet were modified after the severe fire accident at Sakuragi-cho revealed their design flaws, and re-classed as "Series 73". That 58-car fleet of Series 73 served as the major workhorse of Tobu's commuting services.
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TAKAGI, Ryo firstname.lastname@example.org (c) R. Takagi 2003. All rights reserved.