All the necessary dependencies are either included in this package or are avaible on the DLS.
The 6000 Series was introduced by JR Shikoku in the mid-90s to replace the dilapdated 111 Series trains the company had bought, more or less at scrap price, from the JNR Settlement Corporation, the temporary entity that was tasked to phisically split the JNR into the JR Group companies and to sell off surplus assets (including rolling stock) in an attempt to somewheat quell the national railways’ debt.
The 111 Series was built in the very early 1960s as the prototypes of the famous 113 Series, JNR’s new standard mass-produced suburban train. However, by the mid-1980s most of them had severely aged and were withdrawn, with the few remaining sets being used as spare trains on various lines. At that time, their retirement (and eventual scrapping) was expected to come soon. However, unexpectedly, right after the privatization of JNR, five four-car sets were bought by JR Shikoku between 1987 and 1988, as said earlier, almost at scrap price, for rapid services between Okayama and Shikoku Island via the newly-opened and electrified Seto-Ooashi Line.
At the time, JR Shikoku did already have a sizeable fleet of electric multiple units, nineteen 121 Series 2-car sets, built specifically for services on Shikoku Island, however, these were unsuitable for “cross-strait” services due to their lack of toilets and the fact that they had been overall designed for rural local services.
And while there was in fact a dedicated fleet of trains for cross-strait services, the newly-built 213 Series, these were dedicated to “Marine Liner” rapid services, wich depsite being the most notable trains running on the Seto-Ooashi Line, they aren’t the only ones, as the line also carries sizeable local services between Okayama and Takamatsu or Kotohira (besides limited express services, of course), wich were (and are) still very much important as a relief as ridership on “Marine Liner” trains had surpassed all forecasts, and overcrowding was common. Overall, a fleet of suitable electric multiple units was urgently needed, hence the purchase of 111 Series trains.
By the mid-1990s however the 111 Series sets’ deterioration had been a serious issue and therefore a replacement was needed.
This replacement came to be in 1995 in the form of the 6000 Series. Derived from the very successful 211 Series family, the 6000 Series was a much fancier version of the former.
Generally speaking, from the 211 Series the 6000 Series inherited the bodyshell design, the front FRP mask and part of the technical equipment, including the bogeys, pantographs and driving desks. The rest of the train however was radically changed, starting from the window and door arrangment, wich was based on the 311 Series, JR Central’s successor to the 211 Series. This new arrangment saw only the central door keep it’s “original” placement, as the adjacent passenger compartments were extended, “pushing” the passenger doors further away, at the expense of the compartments on the ends of the car, wich were considerably shortened. With the enlarged central compartments, new windows were fitted, derived from the large ones of the 213 Series.
The cab area of the 6000 Series’ cab cars was also expanded, towards the centre of the car, at the expense of the first passenger door, wich was considerably shortened (about 2/3 of it’s original lenght) and subsequently changed to a single-leaf type.
As an additional precaution against accidental current discharges from the overhead catenary in thight areas (such as tunnels), the roof of the cars were painted with an electrically-insulating urethane-based paint.
Most of the technical components that the 6000 Series hadn’t inherited from the 211 Series were however shared with other JR Shikoku electric multiple units, as a matter of containing manufacturing and maintainance costs. This also included their GTO-VVVF inverters and three-phase AC motors (making the 6000 Series the first, and only inverter-controlled train in the 211 Series family), wich were shared with the 8000 Series limited express trains.
Regarding formations, the 6000 Series was designed to be formed in 3-car sets in a 1M2T arrangment, in other words, a KuMoHa power car fitted with two pantographs and the necessary traction equipment (with both bogeys fitted with traction motors) pulling or pushing the two remaining trailer cars. The 6000 Series was also designed to be operable in multiple units with the KuHa 7100 cab cars of JR Shikoku’s 7000 Series, an unique “fully-independent electric railcar + unpowered cab car” combination introduced in 1990 to supplement the 121 Series on local services. In other words, the KuHa 7100 cab car would be attached to a 6000 Series formation when higher-capcaity trains are needed, forming a 4-car set in a 1M3T arrangment.
Two 6000 Series sets were manufactured in 1995 by Nippon Sharyo and were delivered to JR Shikoku in 1996, entering in service on the 26th of April, running both “cross-strait” services between Shikoku and Okayama and “Shikoku-only” services between Takamatsu and Kotohira, including “Sunport” rapid services to Takamatsu as well as local ones.
However, just two 3-car sets were enough only to replace two of the five 111 Series sets, and as the company eventually ran short of money, instead of continuing production of 6000 Series trains, JR Shikoku opted for a cheaper alternative to replace the remaining 111 Series sets, purchasing three 113 Series 4-car sets second-hand from JR East and having them extensively repaired and refurbished in a fashion similar to JR West’s “N40” program.
JR Shikoku’s three 113 Series sets began services in 2000, and togherer with the two 6000 Series, they finally managed to replace the 111 Series sets by 2001.
With the arrival of the 113 Series however, starting from 2000 the two 6000 Series were relegated to Shikoku island-only services (both rapid and local ones). This changed in 2016 with the retirement of the first 113 Series sets from Seto-Ooashi Line duties and saw the return of JR Shikoku’s 6000 Series to Okayama after two decades. This however changed again in 2019, with the 6000 Series being relegated again to Shikoku-only services.
As of now both of the two 6000 Series sets are still in service; they can be commonly found running local and rapid services on the Yosan Line between Takamatsu and Iyo-Saijo and on the electrified portion of the Dosan Line, between Tadotsu and Kotohira. 6000 Series trains found in the latter section are usually on rapid and local services between Kotohira and Takamatsu and vice-versa. Due to their relatively young-age and “up-to-dateness”, there are no replacement plans for the 6000 Series yet, and, who knows, we might even be seeing these trains returning on services to Okayama in the future…
While the 6000 Series were excellent trains under almost all wiewpoints, one downside however was that due to their low motor/trailer ratio (1M2T or even 1M3T when running with a KuHa 7100 attached), these trains quickly gained a reputation for a lacklustre accelleration and braking performance. In the past there have been reports of services ran by 6000 Series sets that were delayed by a few minutes due to heavy rains, causing an almost constant wheelslip when accellerating out of a station, a situation worsened if a KuHa 7100 car was attached to the formation.