Anime on Rails: Rail Romanesque Ep. 3 – Riiko and Tobu Railways Engine No. 5

Welcome back to Anime on Rails! I hope that my Anibitez has tempted you to join me in these small moments of railway appreciation.  

Once again, Rail Romanesque manages to cram a lot of fun trivia into a single episode, including 

  • Attractions on the Tobu Railway’s Mitsuzaki Line
  • Facts about beetles
  • Locomotive anti-slip techniques

And that doesn’t even cover the focus of this week’s episode: Tobu Locomotive No 5’s Railord, Riiko.

Riiko is a quiet girl with long green hair and an obsession with bugs. Her outfit is also based on the colors of her locomotive and consists of white gloves, black shorts, a black shirt, a long black jacket and hat with red accents. She seems like a bit of an airhead, but when prompted she is able to quickly come up with the idea of the anti-slip omamori charms. 

While charms that protect against slipping may seem like a silly thing, track adhesion is very important to trains. Any loss of friction between the wheels and the rail can affect braking performance and lead to wheel slip. Something as innocent as leaves, snow, or rain on the line can sometimes lead to the entire track shutting down. To combat slippage, some trains have sand dispensers mounted in front of drive wheels to put dry sand on the rail to increase wheel grip.  

Riiko’s locomotive is Tobu Railways No. 5, a Class B1 4-4-0 steam locomotive manufactured by the British locomotive construction firm Beyer, Peacock, & co. in 1898. Although built in 1898, the locomotive and its sisters were not put into use until 1899, due to the long shipping times between England to Japan. If you recall from last week, the 4-4-0 classification indicates four guide wheels, four driving wheels, and zero trailing wheels. The locomotive was used by the railway for passenger and freight trains until it was decommissioned in 1966, which means that it stayed in service even after the electrification of much of Japan’s trackage.  

Today, Locomotive No. 5 is preserved at the Tobu Railway Museum located in the Sumida ward of Tokyo. If you want to learn more about this locomotive you can check it out on the museum’s website, or even schedule a visit yourself!

Hey, I’m beginning to see a theme here… Perhaps this is all one big ploy to get people to visit train museums. If that is the case, rest assured that I will create a Rail Romanesque grand tour at the end of the season.  

A fan of shows with lots of talking. Non-anime hobbies include trains and trading card games.
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