Sakurai Line | Takada - Nara

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Commiee, Oct 7, 2021.

  1. Commiee

    Commiee Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2021
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    A JR West 227 series EMU at the Nara Station (photo by 切干大根/CC BY-SA 4.0)

    I had intended the Jōban Line proposal to be my final one, but I'm removing two of my previous suggestions, so I will be suggesting this now.

    After making a comparison between specifications of routes I had suggested, I decided the two limited express suggestions - the Haruka and the Maizuru - were not practical compared to the other four proposals. Firstly, their distances (~100 km/62 mi) were above the realistic expectations of what we see in TSW2 routes, and secondly, those services navigate over several lines, which would mean additional licensing requirements for developers.

    Therefore, I am posting a new route proposal - the Sakurai Line, known to Train Simulator Classic players from the Wakayama and Sakurai Lines DLC. That DLC was based on a scenario with the 103 series EMU, while my suggestion is for the current setting where the 103 is joined by three other EMUs. There are also two former trains to choose from, if devs went for a historical setting.

    The route

    Running in the Nara Prefecture, in the south-central part of the main Japanese island of Honshū, the Sakurai Line connects the Takada Station with the Nara Station, 29.4 km (18.3 mi) to its north. Operated by JR West, the line navigates through a number of historical sites and locations, leading to it also being referred to as the Manyō-Mahoroba Line (Man'yōshū is a collection of old Japanese poetry, while Mahoroba is an ancient Japanese word for a remote land of bliss). This was in part done to revitalise the locality by attracting visitors interested in historical and literary heritage. For the same objective, in-car broadcasting began incorporating announcements in four languages (Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean).

    The first section of the route - from Takada - was opened in 1893 by Osaka Railway company, reaching Nara in 1899. The company merged with Kansai Railway in 1900, with nationalisation following in 1907, along with many Japanese lines that were nationalised in the early 20th century. Electrification of the line was completed in 1980, with freight operations suspended three years later. The Sakurai Line was originally intended as a significant link from Ōsaka and Kyōto to Sakurai, Kashihara and other cities, however, with the emergence of the Kyōto, Kintetsu and other lines, the Sakurai was relegated to a more local role.

    There are 14 stations on the line, with typical operations involving one train per hour between Takada and Sakurai, and two trains per hour between Sakurai and Nara. Usually the services are one-person operations, with some morning rush hour services involving conductors. Special trains are used for occasions like the Tenrikyo Festival. On daily operations, some services proceed after Takada for through running on the Wakayama Line, before reaching the Ōji and Gojō stations. The line uses the CTC signalling system, the typical Japanese 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow-gauge tracks, 1,500 Volt DC overhead electrification, and a top speed limit of 85 km/h (53 mph).

    Notable sites and locations along the section include:
    • Outside the Nagara Station: the medieval Ōyamato Shrine, which served as the guardian site for the WW2-era Japanese battleship Yamato
    • Outside the Yanagimoto Station: the Chōgaku-ji Temple, dated back to 824 and designated as number 4 spiritual site of the 13 Buddhist Sacred Sites of Yamato
    • Outside the Ōmiwa Station: the Ōmiwa Shrine, dated back to the early medieval period and seen as serving Mount Miwa, on which it stands

    Cab ride video of a journey between Takada and Nara on a 227-1000 series EMU in October 2019

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    From left: a map of the route; the route in a wider geographical context (via

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    From left: the line on the JR West PDF map (via JR West); station list on the route (via Wikipedia)

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    From left: Nara Station (photo by Degueulasse/CC BY 3.0); Obitoke Station (photo by Ignis/CC BY-SA 3.0); Nagara Station (photo by 東京特許許可局/CC BY-SA 3.0); Makimuku Station (photo by 東京特許許可局/CC BY-SA 3.0); south exit of the Sakurai Station (photo by 切干大根/CC BY-SA 4.0); Takada Station (photo by 東京特許許可局/CC BY-SA 3.0);

    The rolling stock

    Commuter rolling stock of the line features the 227 series, 221 series, 201 series and 103 series EMUs. Of these, the 227 was introduced in the early 2019, while 221 will be serving on the line until 2023. These trains replaced former rolling stock including the 105 series, while the 113 series was another train formerly used on the route. Two of these trains have been awarded prizes for their design in Japan.

    A look at details of the 227-1000 series EMU serving the line

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    From left: cab controls of the 227 series (photo by Naocchi/CC BY-SA 4.0); seating arrangement in the 227 (photo by TRJN/CC BY-SA 4.0)

    The 227 series train has been used on suburban routes since 2015 by JR West, serving the Sanyo Main Line, Kabe Line, Kure Line, Kisei Main Line, Sakurai Line and Wakayama Line. They have been nicknamed Red Wing after the inter-car fall prevention panels prominently seen on the vehicles. Produced in two- and three-car sets, services use various combinations of these, with lengths of up to eight-car sets.
    Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo since 2014, 118 vehicles have been constructed. The 227 series have HID headlights and fog lights, while their taillights are LED. Released with unpainted stainless steel bodies with coloured accents. Featuring IGBT or SiC-MOSFET traction systems based on sub-variants, the trains are also equipped with ATS-SW2, D-TAS, ATS-P3, CBTC and Dead Man's Switch safety systems, operate on 1,500 Volt DC electrification, and have a top speed of 110 km/h (70 mph). These EMUs received the 2015 Good Design Award in Japan.

    Scenes of a 221 series EMU, including interior

    The 221 series was constructed by Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo and JR West between 1989-1992 and refurbished between 2012–2020. Over 470 vehicles were built in two-, four-, six- and eight-car sets and have served around a dozen lines. They have been based out of Kyōto, Nara and Aboshi depots. They underwent refurbishment starting in 2012, mostly covering interior and amenities. Built from steel, the carriages feature three pairs of doors per side, with the EMUs equipped with ATS-P and ATS-SW safety systems, and can reach 120 km/h (75 mph). The 221 series received the 1990 Laurel Prize.

    Exterior shots and a look at the interior of a 201 series EMU on the Sakurai Line

    Built by Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Tokyu Car Corporation, the 201 series were used by JNR before the privatisation of Japanese rail. Since then they were in service of both JR East and JR West, with current operations continuing under JR West. Produced in 1979 and again between 1981-1985, almost 1,020 of the vehicles were built, and around 130 were still in service in the recent years. These steel-construction trains have MT60 traction motors, regenerative and pneumatic brakes, and ATS-S, ATS-SN, ATS-SW, ATS-B and ATS-P safety systems. They can reach a top speed of 100 km/h (60 mph).

    A look at the 103 series train, including interior

    More than 3,440 of the 103 series were built between 1963–1984 by Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Kisha Seizo, Nippon Sharyo, Teikoku Sharyo and Tokyu Car Corporation. Originally used by JNR, they were then operated by JR East and JR Central, with more recent operations under JR West and JR Kyūshū. JR West has used them on over a dozen of its lines. Around 2019, over 60 were still in use. Constructed from steel, these trains are equipped with ATS-B, ATS-P, ATS-SK, ATS-SW, ATC-3, ATC-4, ATC-6 and ATC-9 safety systems, dynamic, pneumatic and hand brakes, and can reach 100 km/h (62 mph).

    Former rolling stock

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    From left: a JR West 105 series train on the Sakurai Line (photo by khws4v1/CC BY-SA 2.0); a rapid service 113 series EMU at the Nara Station (photo by Suikotei/CC BY-SA 4.0)

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
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  2. Dinosbacsi

    Dinosbacsi Well-Known Member

    Sep 20, 2017
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    I'm in. Especially if it would include the 103 or the 201.

    I loved the route in TS, but I found it weird how the line in-game is just a fraction of the line. The full Sakurai line would be great to drive on from end to end.
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