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International Railroad Discussion > EL&SL (Japan)

Date: 11/11/22 19:58
EL&SL (Japan)
Author: cchan006

EL&SL is an acronym used by JR East (East Japan Railway Company) which stands for Electric Locomotive & Steam Locomotive.

JR Group of companies often designate excursion trains with EL, SL, or DL (Diesel Locomotive) acronyms. They indicate what type of locomotive leads the trains, Electric, Steam, or Diesel. Sometimes, a DL designation is substituted last minute for SL when a steam locomotive is unavailable, usually for maintenance reasons, with railfan consternation.

EL&SL trains are somewhat rare, as the train is pulled by an electric locomotive on the first segment to Takasaki, then the lead locomotive is switched with steam which pulls the rest of the excursion north and uphill to Minakami on the Joetesu Line, or Yokogawa on the Shinetsu Line. Most of these excursions start from Takasaki, while EL&SL trains start south from Takasaki (usually Ageo) and continue north after switching locomotives at Takasaki. I rode the return EL segment from Takasaki south in 2014, when I  chased the C61-20, Japan's Hudson steam locomotive:


In this report from 2015, I chased the EL&SL excursion destined for Yokogawa, which has locomotives on BOTH ends, as Yokogawa does not have a turning facility, so the tail locomotive has to bring back the train on the return trip, in this case, the vintage, last operating EL EF60 #19. What I didn't realize was that EF60 #19 was going to be taken out of service 4 years later, so I didn't chase the return trip with it leading. Oh well.

First clip is at a station between Ageo and Takasaki (Kita-Ageo), where the EL&SL train with electric locomotives on both ends passes. The lead EF64 is quite common, often seen on JR Freight trains. EF60 is the rear guard.

Unlike the excursions to Minakami, the shorter route to Yokogawa has no chase train to catch up to and pass the steam-pulled train out of Takasaki, so I hopped on the next northbound (outbound) train, transferred to a Shinetsu Line train at Takasaki and travelled onto Annaka Station, where I scouted and found an elevated angle.

FYI, Annaka is the origin/terminus of the ore train that run to and from Onahama in Fukushima Prefecture's coast line. I've caught that train in the past on several of my reports.

The steam pulling the train is 2-8-2 D51 #498. D51 class of steam locomotives are nicknamed "Degoichi" where D=De, go=5, and ichi=1. Another was restored to main line operation, D51 #200 by JR West (West Japan Railway Company) in 2017, for steam excursion in western Japan. I caught #200 running as a museum-only operation in 2006, referred to in this report I posted in 2014:


In the second clip, D51 #498 departs Annaka Station. The crowd of people at the end of the platform are local dignitaries celebrating the 130th Anniversary of the Shinestu Line, and this EL&SL train ran to celebrate that anniversary.

- D51 #498 (and EF60 #19, not visible) arrives at Annaka. Yard and ore cars to the right.
- Toho Zinc which gets materials from the ore train operates a smelter and refinery right next to the station.
- Video as described above.

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Date: 11/13/22 00:30
Re: EL&SL (Japan)
Author: bearease

Steam is great no matter what country you're in!
Loved the video! Thanks for the post!
And congrats on VOTD!

Date: 11/13/22 05:36
Re: EL&SL (Japan)
Author: train1275

Excelent post and links.

Date: 11/13/22 10:35
Re: EL&SL (Japan)
Author: ProAmtrak

Awesome video, love how they got that steam engine sounds and all that good stuff!

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