JNR 201 Series – Chuo Line


This is a reskin of the Chuo Line 201 Series by Rizky_Adiputra.
All the necessary dependencies are included in this package, avaible on the DLS or from Rizky’s website 
Reskinned with permission.




In 1970’s Japan, the National Railways (JNR) were in deep financial trouble, due to the debt accumulated from the construction of the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen and the growing building expenses of the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen. They had to save money one way or another, so they initally closed lots of minor, unprofitable lines, handed them over to local governments, but it wasn’t enough. The solution had to be deeper, more complex and radical.

In an highly industrialized and urbanized country with little to no natural resources, like Japan (or Italy), electricity is expensive. Tremendously expensive.
JNR realized that the solution to it’s problem was saving it, by massively introducing what at the time was the greatest innovation in electrical traction.

The current Chopper.


Bit of technical matters here:
A resistor is a component that partially dissipates current into heat, meaning that the current that enters a resistor is higher than the one that exits.
In a resistor-controlled train, such as the 103 series, to accellerate the resistors must be gradually excluded. In such trains the master controller usually has 4 positions: zero (neutral), series, semi-parallel and parallel (the latter three refer to the three different electrical circuit types), the motor imput current is ,thus, of 3 fixed values, meaning that accelleration is not gradual, and in certain situations it can even strain the motor itself. Furthemore it generates lots of heat, making it unsuitable to underground railways.

A Chopper instead is a component that, electronically transforms the input DC current from a steady value to a series of rapid pulses (also DC).
The shorter the interval between pulses (in terms of milliseconds), the faster the motor will get. The accelleration thus is extremely smooth and it does not generate heat, just only a constant high-pitched whine. The only disadvantage is that it’s expensive as it requires precision-maufactured components.
It’s a system first introduced in 1968 on the 6000 series of TRTA (later Tokyo Metro) and then subsequently adpoted by numerous (wealthy) private railways such as Tokyu and by Municipal Subways nationwide (wich did not have any funding problem, thus they could utilize what at the time was the most advanced technology, not only in traction but also in signalling and operation).

JNR lacked behind in this field, but in 1977, it was finally decided to introduce this new revolutionay system to the national rails.


Built by Toky Car Corp. (nowdays J-TREC) in 1977 and entered service in 1979, the 201 series prototype (classified 201-900 series) was a 3+7 car set destined to the Chuo Rapid Line (and related Ome and Itsukaichi branchlines), wich at the time still relied on power-consuming 101 and 103 series trains.
Besides the new Chopper control, the 201 series actually changed little from the 103 series, as they both share similar windows, doors, bogeys, pantographs and air conditioning units. The bodyshell was also similar in appearance, but the 201 Series’ ones were lighter and stronger than the older 103 Series ones. The other main difference was the upper front part, with it’s distinctive black contour around the asymmetrical windows (derived from those of the prototype 591 series tilting EMU) desinged to enhance the driver’s visual of the line ahead.

The mass production of 201 series trains began in 1981 and by 1985 both of the older trains were retired. The main difference between the prototype and the full-production series is that the 201-900 series had an additional “door pocket window” between the driver’s door and the first passenger door (more or less where the “JR” logo is on the standard 201s) and had the running number (the three numbers to the left of the headlights, that identify the train service) black on a white backgrund, while on standard 201s they were the opposite, white on black background.

The master controller was also changed from the “vertical axis” one used on the 103 series to the “orizontal axis” type MC60, derived from those used on Shinkansen 0 Series trains, as they were easier to use for novice drivers and overall more comfortable.

The full-production sets were formed both in 10-car sets (for “proper” Chuo Line services) and also in 6+4-car sets for Ome and Itsukaichi Line services: the two sets were split at Hajima Staton, with the 4-car set continuing on the Ome Line and the 6-car one continuing on the Itsukaichi Line. To go back to Tokyo and Shinjuku, the two sets were reconnected as a 6+4=10-car set, again at Hajima Station.


Loved by railway enthusiasts, appreciated by commuters and drivers as well, they did extremely good in service but they were expensive to manufacture, too much for what JNR could afford, so production stopped in 1985, at 1018 cars built.
What was to become the national railways’ standard train failed. It was the train JNR deserved, but not the one it could afford.

Chuo Line 201 series trains were also provisionally used between 1986 and 1990 on the first section of the Musashino Line (Fuchuhonmachi to Shin-Matsudo). There were actually no dedicated Musashino Line 201s, as JNR (and later, JR East) would periodically use one or more 201 Serieses for a Chuo Line service terminating at Nishi-Kokubunji, then the driver (and the destination sign) would change and 30mins later the same train would depart, now running a Musashino Line service (and vice-versa).

Originally introduced with a plain front, starting from the early ’90s some were fitted with an additonal roller-blind destination indicator for special services, and by 2001 they changed pantographs to the single-arm type used on E231 series trains.

By the mid-2000s, the 201 Series was now 30 years old, and depsite a light refurbishment, they changed little from the time of their introduction, so a replacement was ordered.

Introduced in 2006, the E233 Series was an upgraded and improved version of JR East’s standard commuter train design, the E231. By the late 2000s, 201 Series trains were now used sparcely on the Chuo Line, and on the 17th of October 2010, the last 201 Series set, formation H7, made it’s way for the last time on the Chuo Line, even going outside from it’s “territory”, running a special “last run” service on the Chuo Main Line wich went as far as Matsumoto, deep in Nagano Prefecture.

Almost all 201 Series cars have been scrapped. Among the few known preserved cars there is KuHa 201-1, one of the cab cars of the above-mentioned formation H7, wich is currently stored at the Toyoda Vehicle Center.



The Chuo Line was specifically chosen to be the test line for JNR’s new chopper trains as it had a variety of services on wich the new trains could’ve been tested: from all-stop locals to 100Km/h Rapids.



Due to their distinctive and iconic look, 201 Series trains have been fetaured in countless movies and anime, including Studio Ghibli’s Ocean Waves, Pom Poko and Ghiblies, the post-apocalyptic Coppelion, RAIL WARS!, Kochikame, Doraemon, Detective Conan and many, many more. They’re also fetaured in the Kaiju film Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.