(Part 1 here)
Kishigawa Line is a local line in Wakayama prefecture. After the operation were taken over by Wakayama Electric Railway Co. 3 unique train sets were introduced.
- Ichigo Densha (Strawberry Train Set)
- Omocha Densa (Toy Train Set)
- Tama Densha (Tama Train Set)
|A banner about the trains. From left Omocha, Ichigo and Tama|
All of the are 2270 series aquired from the previous operator Nankai Electric Railway Co. ltd.
To increase the ridership and also to attract tourist, Wakayama Electric Railway Co. decided to start a renewal programme. In this programme, train sets will be repainted, and the interior will be redesigned. This programme is unique because it was a community effort. The cost to redesign the sets were covered by sponsored money from local business and locals. As rewards, their name will be written on a special plate and put in the sets.
Ichigo Densha was introduced in 2006 with the strawberry motif is the first sets in a renewal programme. Why strawberry? The area around Kishi Station is popular with its production, strawberry. However, the sets colour isn't totally red. Instead, it coloured white with the door painted red.
Ichigo Densha was not "on duty" when I visit the line last saturday. So, I don't know the detail about the interior.
Omocha densha is second of this renewal programme (2007). It was designed with toy motif. Painted in red with OMODEN writing at the side (short for OMOcha DENsha). It was supported by an internet toy shop T.J.Grosnet. At first, the company suggest it to be design as Gundam Densha (Gundam Densha). But the operator reject it because the wanted it to be the brother to the Ichigo Densha, and change the plan to Omocha Densha.
The interior was designed with toy room motif. Many toys are place inside 3 wooden (with glass window) racks. And also, they sell capsule toys inside.
In spring 2008, T.J.GrosNet was filed for bankruptcy. The shop was ranked #1 at Yahoo! Shopping Japan and at the time. It was very disappointing. I placed an order a month before the company goes bankrupt (of course I don't know that the company will go bankrupt) and the product was supposed to arrived several days after the bankruptcy declaration date. I managed to get it from other shop. I was lucky, the product is a very popular product and after several days I bought the product, many shops don't have it in their stock.
The T.J.GrosNet name as the sponsor was not erased.
After Tama the cat officially named as the station master for Kishi Station, the operator decided to redesign a set with cat motif. It was painted white and at the heads of the set, whiskers were painted. The interior is filled with cat paintings, books about cat and the cat design chairs and benches. Tama Densha was launched in 2009.
The mother company of the operator, Okayama Electric Tramway co. ltd redesign a car set which is operating in Okayama prefecture with Tama motif. They didn't stop there, they also repaint a company van with the same motif.
These train sets with their unique interior design and also Tama as station master is a very successful. They attract train and lovers. Their success also brought big influence to other local lines that in the danger of being scrapped. This including a dog and a rabbit as station master.
|Tama the Super Station Master. Thanks to Kak Dayang for the pic|
Train with unique design and painting can be spotted anywhere in a Japan, but the interior is same as ordinary train. Wakayama people did a great job to safe their beloved trains. The line is just 14km long and it take about 15~20 minutes from Wakayama to Kishi, a short journey but fun.
If not of these programme, the journey will be boring.