Seibu buys used trains from Tokyu & Odakyu – Solving lagging energy saving all at once

Seibu Railway, which was considering purchasing used rolling stock with a low environmental impact from other companies, calling it “Sustaibable Train Cars”, agreed to take over the “9000 series” from Tokyu Corporation and the “8000 type” from Odakyu Electric Railway.

The Seibu New 101 series EMU operating on branch lines such as the Sayama Line and will be replaced with the "Sustainable Train Cars" in the future (たかさくら/PhotoAC)
The Seibu New 101 series EMU operating on branch lines such as the Sayama Line and will be replaced with the “Sustainable Train Cars” in the future (たかさくら/PhotoAC)

Total 100 cars of Tokyu “9000 series” and Odakyu “8000 type”

“Sustainable Train Cars” is Seibu’s unique name for rolling stocks to be acquire from other railway companies. This word first appeared in the progress report of the medium-term management plan, which was published in May 2022 as one of the fixed cost reduction measures for the railway business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. When selecting rolling stocks, consideration was given to unpainted bodies that are easy to maintain, and VVVF inverter-controlled vehicles that consume less power.

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While main routes such as the Ikebukuro and Shinjuku Lines are being renovated with the introduction of new 40000 series cars, branch routes such as the Kokubunji and Seibu Chichibu Lines are still mainly painted cars equipped with DC motors that consume a lot of power.

Compared to companies such as Tokyu, Odakyu, and Keio Electric Railway, which have achieved a 100% VVVF conversion rate for their trains, Seibu is lagging behind in making its trains more energy- and labor-saving. It was imperative that they recover this as soon as possible.

Unprecedented large-scale train cars purchase negotiations between major railway operators have been proceeding behind the scenes, and details such as the negotiating party and rolling stocks type have not been disclosed until now. According to a joint announcement by the three companies, it has been decided that Tokyu will transfer its “9000 series” EMU, and Odakyu its “8000 type” EMU to Seibu. Seibu will gradually introduce around 100 of these Sustainable Train Cars starting in FY 2024, with the aim of achieving 100% VVVF by FY 2030.

(See the chart below for details such as overview and introduction routes of the Tokyu 9000 series and Odakyu 8000 type to be introduced to Seibu as “Sustainable Train Cars”.)

[Chart] Overview and introduction routes of the Tokyu 9000 series and Odakyu 8000 type to be introduced to Seibu as "Sustainable Train Cars"

Which sustainable train will be the first to start operation in 2024?

The Tokyu 9000 series, which has an unpainted stainless steel body, debuted on the Toyoko Line as their first energy-saving vehicle to fully adopt VVVF control, and is currently in operation as a train that stops at each station on the Oimachi Line. Seibu plans to gradually introduce it on the Tamagawa, Tamako, Seibu Chichibu and Sayama Lines from FY 2025 onwards, replacing older models such as the New 101, 2000 and 4000 series.

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The 8000 type, which is still in use on the Odakyu Line, has been a high-performance vehicle equipped with field chopper control and electric regenerative braking since its introduction. Although the painted body is made of ordinary steel, its energy-saving performance has been improved through VVVF renewal work, and it seems that it was selected because it will be able to secure enough number of cars to replace the current cars on the Kokubunji Line. This is scheduled to start operating sooner as the first formation of Sustainable Train Cars in FY 2024.

Sustainable Train Cars have the ability to reduce power consumption by approximately 50% compared to older vehicles. By FY 2030, when 100 cars will be installed, Seibu expects to be able to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 5,700 tons per year, equivalent to the emissions of about 2,000 ordinary households.

Additionally, it is estimated that approximately 9,400 tons of CO2 is emitted when manufacturing 100 new cars, and approximately 70 tons when the cars are disposed of. Since these can be reduced by reusing train cars, they intend to communicate this as an SDGs initiative to reduce resource waste and the burden on the natural environment.

Katsuhiro Ogawa, the rolling stock manager at Seibu Railway, says: “By combining newly built and Sustainable train cars, we will speedily promote energy conservation in rolling stocks. We will also take this opportunity to deepen our technical collaboration with Tokyu and Odakyu and provide more sustainable transportation services to our customers.”.

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