Well, this is one of those weeks where I can't really think of what to write and therefore have to pick something out of the blue. The world of trains is one where the more one looks the more she or he finds. It continues to amaze me how many variations of the same vehicle designed to operate on top of two steel rails there are in different corners of the Planet Earth.

Today we look at a locomotive from the JNR days

So I will briefly write about a Japanese electric locomotive from the mid 20th century. The Class EF58 locomotive is a joint product by 5 companies, 4 of which are still quite well known today (and they are Hitachi, Toshiba, Kawasaki, and Mitsubishi). She was built between 1946 and 1958, during the golden days of the North American Streamliners.

A picture of the EF58 from the 1980s

If you remember, Japan's national railroad network, until the days of the bullet train, was entirely cape gauge (42 inches). The EF58 has 8 axles, however only 4 center axles are powered. Compared to standard gauge counterparts of the day, the EF58 wasn't really all that powerful, at a modest 2 550 horsepower, however, that number looked just fine if the comparison was made to diesel locomotives of the 1940s and 50s. The EF58 was designed for both passenger and freight services and had a top speed of 60 mph.

This is what the EF58 looked like hauling the Royal Train

Over the years, this class of locomotives had also undergone a number of mechanical improvements and was eventually retired from regular service in the 1980s. Yes I've picked a locomotive out of the blue, however, the EF58's place in history is by no means random. Two (road no 60 and 61) of the 172 locomotives in this class were assigned to the Royal Train in Japan since the mid 1950s.

Some units were preserved, including the no 61
Some units are as lucky


Andy in Germany said…
Suprisingly handsome. There's a cosmetically restored example in The Railway Museum in Tokyo (which incidentally is extremely good) and it was a very impressive piece of machinery, although sadly unphotographable due to the lighting.

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