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New Class 737 EMU For Hokkaido

posted on 21st Apr 2023 12:00

JR Hokkaido, the main operator on Japan's northernmost island, has introduced new two-car EMUs for the Muroran Main Line. The 13 new 1,067 mm gauge Class 737 EMUs will be used for local services between Tomakomai and Muroran on the Muroran Main Line (the part following the Pacific ocean coast). These services will also be extended to the Hakodate Main Line. These new EMUs will replace KiHa 143 DMUs on local services, making the return of local EMU services on the line after the withdrawn of the old Class 711s in 2012, which were replaced by KiHa 143 DMUs at that time.

The 20 kV 50 Hz Class 737 consists of a powered car with a traction power of 640 kW and a trailer, and has an aluminium body with a steel front ends. The weight of the powered car is 41 t, while the weight of the trailer is 34 t. The traction inverters are of the SiC type, and the maximum speed is 120 km/h. Replacing the former DMUs with Class 737 EMUs will reduce the journey time between terminals by 10 minutes.

The capacity of the EMU is 93 seats and space for 176 standies. The floor is 190 mm lower than the floor of Kiha 143 DMUs (which were rebuilt in the 1990s from former surplus Class OHaFu locomotive-hauled coaches). There is a wheelchair-accessible WC on board. The interior is equipped with LED lighting. Production took place at the Hitachi Kasado plant on Honshu Island.

For the first time for JR Hokkaido, these are equipped for so-called "one-man service", which means that the train is operated only by the driver, there is no conductor. They are due to enter commercial service from May 2023.

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