Electric Locomotive

No. ED40-10

Class ED40

1919 - 1951


First Japanese domestically mass-produced Rack Track system electric locomotive.



On the first of April 1893, Shinetsu line connected Tokyo with Nagano and Niigata. Shinetsu line finally opened to Usui pass between Yokokawa and Karuizawa with connecting tunnels on a rather steep slope. There was a maximum of 6.67% per steep slope (66.7m per 1000m mount slope) on that section, therefore, this section was laid on a Abt (Abet) System which was a kind of Rack Track System.



Usui pass 1893's original tunnel site
During Nov 1972
Steam locomotives on this section consisted of seven Class 3900 Rack Track type engines from Germany, and later Class 3920 and 3950 from the UK. Domestic Class 3980's were deployed at the Yokokawa depot.
However, it required 1 hour and 15 minutes to cover a distance of only 11.2 kms by steam, additionally there were 26 tunnels on this short section, so choking often resulted as a consequence.

As a result, main line electrification was planned for this section for the first time in Japan except for urban lines. The electrification was completed on the 11th of May 1912, and an electric train could now travel between Yokokawa and Karuizawa in 45 minutes. (The present Nagano Shinkansen needs only six minutes for passage on this section.)

On this occasion, twelve Class 10000 (later the class name was changed to EC40) Abt type electric locomotives imported from the German builder AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft ).
The electric mode was a DC 600V, with power collected from a pantograph at the station yard, but on the main line, operational power was collected on a third rail (electric-rail that was laid beside a rail), because the tunnel's height was not enough to hang overhead wiring.




Usui pass's ED40 during 1920s




Museum preserved ED40-10
Yokokawa depot during 1930s
(Photo credit to E.Kineya)

Six years after electrification during 1918, more engines were needed with an increase in traffic volume, consequently the government railway planned a domestically-produced new electric engine for Usui pass.
At that time, Japanese private companies did not have the experience for the production of main line electric locomotives, so the government railway designed and produced an engine at the Omiya workshop. This was the first time that Japanese knowhow produced an electric locomotive via domestic production.

Four electrics were manufactured during 1919, and were named Class 10020 No.10020-10023.
Usui pass trains to Niigata were connected with one assisted engine in the front and two or three engines in the rear for up hill slope conditions. Returning trains from Niigata were connected with three or four assisted engines in the front. Afterward, a total of fourteen Class 10020 (No.10020-10033) were manufactured until 1923.

Class 10020 was changed to Class ED40 No.1-14 from the class names revised during 1928.
ED40s were active on Usui pass from Yokokawa depot until a new model ED42 appeared on the scene during 1940.
During July 1943, No.3 and No.4 were transferred to the Nankai Tetsudo Co.
During May 1948, No.9,11 and No.14 were transferred to the Sunzu Tetsudo Co.
During January 1947, No.6 and No.10 were transferred to the Tobu Tetsudo Co.
Other surviving JNR ED40s were retired and scrapped until March of 1952.




Omiya workshop exhibited ED40-10
During Feb 1971


Preserved engine ED40-No.10 (1921 - 1968)

Transferred to the Tobu-Tetsudo Co's No.10 was named Tobu-ED4002 and later changed to ED602.
And all of the Abt devices were disengaged when No.10 was transferred to Tobu-Tetsudo, and the trolley pole was installed on the roof so it could run on streetcar sections in Nikko city.
ED602 was retired during 1968 on the Tobu-Tetsudo, and was endowed to the JNR for it's historical value. And it was remade to the original shape of the ED40-10 and was preserved at the JNR Omiya workshop.
During October 2007, ED40-10 was moved to the new Railway Museum and exhibited.


Class ED40, No.ED40-10 Biographic Data Chart

Date Location Application
Mar 1921 JGR Omiya works (no serial number) Manufacture
Mar 1921 Yokokawa Deployment
Oct 1928 Class ED40 No.ED4010 Renumbered
1944 Nikko Kido On lend
Jan 1947 Tobu Tetsudo bought Nikko Kido with ED4010 Transferred
14 Jan 1947 Yokokawa, JGR Deregistered
08 Sep 1948 Tobu Tetsudo Sold (On paper)
Sep 1948 ED4002 Renumbered
1966? ED602 Renumbered
Mar 1968 Tobu Tetsudo Retired
Mar 1968 JNR Donated
1968 Omiya works Exhibited
Oct 2007 Saitama Railway Museum Moved






ED40's maintenance scene reproduced here.






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