Kawasaki DF200

Japan, like many European countries, leaped straight into electric propulsion on their railroad networks from steam in the early 20th century. Since her mainlines are dominated by passenger multiple units, locomotives have not been in a big demand. Diesel locomotives are even more scarce, they only run on the relatively few miles of non-electrified mainlines.

The Japanese have attempted producing a diesel-electric locomotive before (not long after the war) but have since been using hydraulic transmission instead. Well, that was until the Kawasaki DF200 was introduced in the early/mid 1990s. To date, the DF200 remains the only diesel-electric locomotive on the JR system.

Japan Rail Freight (JRF) runs unit trains only

Like the typical Japanese electric locomotive, the DF200 is a 6-axle but not the kind we are used to. Instead of having two 3-axle trucks, Japanese locomotives have three 2-axle trucks instead. Power comes from two small high-speed diesel engines. Early variants of the DF200 have two MTU engines rated at 1,700 hp, later (and the majority) of this locomotive are equipped with two 1,800 hp Komatsu engines. The variants with Komatsu engines have been given the nickname Red Bear Eco Power (well ... don't ask me how or why ... maybe it's because the locomotive has a red nose and is used in the very north of Japan where there are probably bears? That's my best guess). On the rails, traction is provided by 6 AC motors with a combined maximum output of 2,600 hp. Braking equipment will sound familiar to us North American railfans, on board are both electronic air brake valves and dynamic brake.

Not a bad looking loco really

This Wikipedia page outlines the different variants of the locomotive, including a latest passenger version.

Passenger variant of the DF200 for JR Kyushu


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