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Experience Driving a Train in Yokohama

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
A train operation simulation in the cab of a SHIN 1000 model

The Keikyu Museum in Yokohama’s Nishi Ward displays the history and appeal of the Keikyu Corp. private railroad, which connects Shinagawa, Tokyo, to Haneda Airport and the Miura Peninsula. Visitors can get up close and personal with a real train car, make their own railroad toys and even get firsthand experience of operating a train.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
The DEHA 230, which was in service from 1930 to 1978, features three “jumper cables.”

The museum’s most eye-catching exhibit is a DEHA 230 train car that was in operation during the Showa era (1926-1989). First built in 1929, this kind of train made direct travel between Shinagawa and Uraga, Kanagawa Prefecture, possible in April 1933. After also operating on the Keikyu Airport and Keikyu Daishi lines, it was officially retired in 1978 and put on display in a park in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture. Keikyu Corp. took ownership of it in 2017.

The train car is 16 meters long, 2.47 meters wide and 3.96 meters high. It weighs 33.5 tons. It also features three “jumper cables” on its front which, up until the Showa era, were connected to the electrical system of another car by employees at Shinagawa or Kanazawa-Bunko stations, according to a planning and sales department official.

The number of passengers increased along with rapid economic growth. Although other railroads began to introduce quadruple tracks, Keikyu Corp. instead boosted the number of cars in operation to a maximum of 12, because towns had already been established along the lines and expanding the tracks wasn’t possible.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
A huge diorama of the towns along the Keikyu Line. Visitors can experience operating a camera-equipped model train.

The museum’s diorama — roughly 3.5 meters long and 12 meters wide — depicts scenes from towns along the line connecting Shinagawa and the Miura Peninsula, with models of the trains running along the tracks.

For ¥100, visitors can operate a model train equipped with a camera, giving them the illusion of traveling through a diorama. A simulation offering a more realistic experience is also available for ¥500. Participants sit in the cab of a SHIN 1000 model and select from four courses graded by their level of difficulty. Once the simulation begins, the driver operates a lever while keeping an eye on the images displayed on the screen. If the driver accelerates too quickly, the train will come to a sudden halt, allowing the driver a chance to understand the difficulty of safely operating a train.

“My 4-year-old son was so excited to drive around the town reproduced in the museum’s diorama,” said a visiting mother from Kawasaki, one of the towns along the Keikyu line. She added: “I’d like children and those who live along the [Keikyu] line to come have a better understanding of how trains work and the [operator’s] commitment to safety. It would also be nice if they went home with lots of fun memories.”

Keikyu Museum: Keikyu Group Headquarters 1st floor, 1-2-8 Takashima, Nishi Ward, Yokohama

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
An example of one of the crafts visitors can make by drawing on a toy train car