JNR Class C62

This week I'm trying to write, again, about something I'm not entirely familiar with, a steam locomotive (How Steam Engines Work). The nostalgia and romance the steam train brings is unrivaled, however, I cannot say, as someone born in the late 1980s, that the steam locomotive is something I have much emotional connection to. Nevertheless, they are charming machines, each with their own personality and character. Evolution of the steam locomotive is no doubt a powerful testament of Victorian ingenuity and has brought revolutionary changes to the landscape of transport around the world.

The star featured today then is a locomotive from Japan, the Japanese National Railways Class C62. The C62 is the biggest and fastest passenger steam locomotive Japan has ever built for its Cape gage railroad network (we shall revise that Cape gage is 3 ft. 6 in., considerably narrower than the standard gage of 4 ft. 8.5 in.). These locomotives were built in 1948 and 49 for hauling express trains (mainly the Tsubame, or Swallow) on the Tōkaidō Main Line by Hitachi Heavy Industry, Kawasaki Heavy Industry, and Kisha Manufacturing (now part of Kawasaki). A total of 49 copies were produced. C62 2 however, is the only unit carrying a stainless steel stylised swallow on the side of the smoke deflectors (it is interesting to note here that the British Rail InterCity brand also has had a different stylised swallow as its logo at first, in fact, the first Class 91 locomotive, the 91001, motive power for the InterCity 225, has also been named Swallow at the time of her debut). In fact, the C62 is the fastest Cape gage steam locomotive in the world outside of South Africa. The C62 17 reached a speed of 80 mph in December 1954 on the Tōkaidō Main Line.

Now for some of you the C62 may start looking somewhat familiar. This is also the locomotive featured in the comic and cartoon series Galaxy Express 999. Although the locomotive in the comic was based on the C62 2 with the distinctive stylised swallow, the author thoughtfully gave the locomotive a road number of 50, which did not exist in real life.


Dear the owner of TOTW,

I just want to confirm that the number of C62 steam locomotive modeled in both the Galaxy Express 999 and Galaxy Railways Story (especially the Original Video Animation (OVA) titled "A Letter from The Abandoned Planet") is written as C62 48 (part of the real C62 series fleet). However, the 999 number roundel plate on the front of the train is likely inspiring the ones carried by C62 2 during the Dream Train 1999 exhibition in Shinagawa Station.

Thanks for your kindness, and happy railfanning!


Arya Dwi Pramudita

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