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International Railroad Discussion > C57 #1 and C56 #160 (Japanese Steam)


Date: 11/21/22 21:03
C57 #1 and C56 #160 (Japanese Steam)
Author: cchan006

The visit to Okayama's Shinkansen Facility in my last report was part of a busy railfan weekend, where I covered more than 1600 miles on riding the Shinkansen alone, with additional (uncounted) miles riding the local lines to chase and intercept other trains. All thanks to the JR Rail Pass.

The first leg of this weekend trip involved a Shinkansen ride to Shin Yamaguchi, to try to catch the SL Yamaguchi steam excursion. Shin-Yamaguchi is located about 640 miles west of Tokyo, or about 150 miles east of Hakata. There was no hope of catching the morning departure out of Shin Yamaguchi since I had another railfan activity that day, so I opted to catch it coming back. I rode the Yamaguchi Line DMU to Otoshi and waited for the SL Yamaguchi to show up.

At the time, SL Yamaguchi was led by 4-6-2 C57 #1, the class unit, manufactured in 1937. It has a very interesting history, hit by U.S. warplane strafing during WWII, survived damages from derailing at a mudslide site, assigned to pull to the Royal Train (for the Emperor), and so forth.

Interesting side history is that C57 #1 was stationed at Niitsu (near Niigata) at the same time as C57 #180 and D51 #498, the other currently operating steam locomotives which I've reported on here on TO. They were in service together between 1966-1969 as Japan's steam era was ending. C57 #1 was retired from service in 1972.

First clip in the video has the C57 #1 approaching Otoshi. It met a limited express train. I barely had time to run to the other end of the platform to catch it departing, second clip.

C57 #1 suffered cylinder troubles in October of 2020, and was taken out of service. As of now, repairs have not finished and its return date to service is unknown. So for the time being, this video is nostalgia.

- Behind the yellow/white diesel car is C57 #1 at the roundhouse in Shin-Yamaguchi.
- Video of C57 #1, C56 #160, and C61 #20. (more description next).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/22 17:17 by cchan006.

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Date: 11/22/22 17:57
Re: C57 #1 and C56 #160 (Japanese Steam)
Author: cchan006

In the third clip of the video above, 2-6-0 C56 #160 is departing Maibara, which is located about 360 miles east of Shin-Yamaguchi. After chasing the C57 #1, I rode the Shinkansen to Maibara and stayed there overnight,

The Mogul is pulling the SL Kita-Biwako excursion on the Hokuriku Line north to Kinomoto, along the east side of Japan's largest lake, Biwa-ko. I made a Shinkansen detour the night before just to catch this before heading back west toward Okayama for the Shinkansen Facility Open House later in the day, knowing that C56 #160's days were numbered for pulling main line excursions.

C56 #160 was retired from SL Kita-Biwako duties in 2018, taken over by 4-6-2 C57 #1 and 2-8-2 D51 #200. Unfortunately, the last run for the SL Kita-Biwako excursion was in November of 2019. Before the next season began, the pandemic hit, and the excursion was cancelled indefinitely, then abolished in 2021, mainly due to aging passenger cars.

C56 #160 is still stored serviceable at Umekoji (Kyoto Railway Museum). Latest run on the museum grounds was in autumn of 2021.

- C56 #160 at Maibara, ready to depart.




Date: 11/22/22 18:15
Re: C57 #1 and C56 #160 (Japanese Steam)
Author: cchan006

I catch the C61 #20 at Ino Station, cruising at speed, last clip in the video above. I had returned to Tokyo after my Shinkansen trips, and on a whim, decided to catch it the next weekend because I could, thanks to the JR Rail Pass.

Here's another video, taken at Otoshi while waiting for the C57 #1 to arrive. I document the Kiha 47 DMUs, which are still in service. They were built in the late 1970s to early/mid 1980s, survivors from the government-run JNR (Japan National Railways) era.

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Date: 11/22/22 18:56
Re: C57 #1 and C56 #160 (Japanese Steam)
Author: cchan006

While waiting for the C56 #160 to depart Maibara, I caught some interesting trains:

- EF81 locomotive in Twilight Express scheme pulling a "Happy Train Hokuriku" excursion.
- Sleek-looking Class 681 EMU, capable of 160 km/h (100 mph).

"Twlight Express" sleeper train had just retired from service the year before in 2015, and one of the EF81 used for that Osaka-Sapporo service was assigned to this excursion. A nice surprise, as I didn't expect it to be at Maibara.

Class 681 EMUs serve the "Thunderbird" and "Shirasagi" limited express trains, which travel to the Japan Sea side via Tsuruga to Kanazawa. While the 681s do not run at 160 km/h currently, they were assigned to the "Hakutaka" limited express on the Hoku-hoku Line in the past, and ran 160 km/h on that segment until 2015, when the start of Hokuriku Shinkansen service eliminated the need for "Hakutaka." I had a brief conversation with symph1 in the Passenger Discussion on this topic.

That's it for the report.



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