Left to right: prototype set 9101 (Chiyoda Line test runs), two TRTA versions, two Tokyo Metro versions and the 5th-batch trains.
All the necessary dependencies are included in the pack or are avaible on the DLS (for example, the bogeys), except for the pantographs, wich must be downloaded from Rizky’s website (jirctrainz.com – they’re included in the “freeware EMU packs”).
The 9000 Series was introduced by TRTA in the early 1990s as the rolling stock of choice for the new Namboku Line, the company’s newest line and the first to be opened in about a decade, as the then-lastest (the Hanzomon Line) had been opened in 1979.
The Namboku Line bears the official name of “Line No. 7” and like many other TRTA lines, it had been first proposed in the 1962 subway masterplan as a north-south line connecting Meguro to Akabane via Nagatacho, Ichigaya and Komagome. The routing was further refined in 1972, with the planned line being extended northwards from Akabane to Kawaguchi and into Saitama prefecture, up to Urawa city. However, depsite the plans being ready since the 1960s, construction was always postponed due to various reasons, both economical (the line crossed slightly difficult terrain, and in various “exploration” excavations several historical artefacts were found), political (in particular local opposition to the location of the would-be depot) and primarily practical: other planned lines with a far higher expected ridership were understandably, and rightly, given priority over Line No.7.
Finally, in 1984 the definitive plans for Line 7 were approved, and after some adjustments, construction began in earnest in 1986.
Since Line No.7 was to be TRTA’s first new line in almost a decade, the company decided to discard what could be described as the “1970s blueprint for subways” (as applied on the Chiyoda, Yurakucho and Hanzomon Lines, the three most recent) in favour of the widespread adoption of the then-newest technologies available: semi-automatic ATO driver-only operation, advanced computerized systems, platform screen doors at all stations and inverter traction control – the latter, altough already somewheat widespread, hadn’t been adopted yet by TRTA, as the company had remained loyal to the current chopper system (even developing it’s own unique high-frequency GTO chopper, as applied to the 0x family of trains).
The new trains for Line No.7 were to be based on the 05 Series of the Tozai Line, then TRTA’s newest series, having been introduced only a few years before in 1988.
From the 05 Series, the new trains were to inherit the same proven bodyshell construction systems and some equipment, such as the bogeys, pantographs, doors and interior fittings. However, in regards to exterior designs, the trains were completely re-designed – since Line No.7 trains were to be run in driver-only operations, their cabs were designed to give the best visibility possible for the driver, adopting stylish wrap-around windows. The cab was also slightly roomier than previous serieses, as the bulky on-board ATO equipment needed quite a lot of space, and finally, also correlated to one-man-operation, an array of four CCTV screens connected to the stations’ platform-side cameras was installed above the driver seat, so that he could check the status of the platform before closing the doors without the need to get out of his seat and lean out the cab window.
To test all these new fetaures, a prototype 4-car set built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries was delivered to TRTA in 1990, wich proceeded to use it on various test runs along the Chiyoda Line, specifically on the Ayase to Kita-Ayase Branch line, wich had been experimentally fitted with ATO when it opened in 1979. Testing was successful, with TRTA placing an order for six other “full-production” trains right after.
Classified as the “9000 Series”, full-production trains were delivered starting in early 1991, around the same time as Line No.7 recieved it’s definitive name of “Namboku Line”. Around the same time, as works on the first section of the line came to a close, the prototype set was modified to “full-production” standard and sent to Oji depot (wich, wary of the earlier political oppisition, TRTA had it built entirely underground) togheter with the other 9000 Series sets, ready for the line’s opening.
Finally, the first section of the Namboku Line opened for regular services on the 29th of November 1991, running from Akabane-Iwabuchi (a short distance away from JR’s Akabane station) and Komagome station, where passengers could transfer to the Yamanote Line. Interestingly, this first section was isolated from the rest of TRTA’s and the whole Tokyo Subway network (including the Toei lines) – construction works on the southward sections had been slightly delayed due to the difficult terrain and various issues correlated with tunnelling under the subway, expressway and water tunnels mess that is central Tokyo.
With the opening of the first section, all seven 9000 Series sets (including the former prototype) entered regular service, running as 4-car sets between Akabane-Iwabuchi and Komagome. These were not deemed enough, and thus, in 1992 an additional eight set was procured.
These eight sets can be referred to as the “1st batch” and have a peculiarity: as was practice at the time, TRTA opted to have different manufacturers provide the traction inverters: Mitsubishi Electric equipped even-numbered sets (02, 04, 06 and 08), while Hitachi equipped odd-numbered sets (01, 03, 05 and 07). Both inverters, depsite the different manufacturers (and sound) were of the same GTO-VVVF type, and had comparable, nearly-identical performances, even on the steep gradients and tight curves of the Namboku Line.
The delayed southern section, from Komagome to Yotsuya, finally opened in March 1996, bringing the Namboku Line to Tokyo’s city center and ending it’s peculiar isolation: on the new section, interchanges with the rest of TRTA’s network were provided at Korakuen (with the Marunouchi Line and Toei’s Mita Line), Idabashi (with the Tozai and Yurakucho Lines, plus the Chuo-Sobu Line) and Yotsuya itself, with transfers available to the Marunouchi Line and JR East’s Chuo Rapid and Chuo-Sobu Lines.
To provide additional rolling stock for the extension, a new batch of 9000 Series trains was ordered. This second batch, consisting of five trains built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, was more or less identical to it’s predecessor, except for the traction equipment – the GTO-VVVF inverters were ditched in favour of the brand-new IGBT-VVVF inverters, with these second-batch trains being fitted with Hitachi-made equipment.
Furthemore, since Namboku Line ridership was forecast to increase, due to the interchange at Yotsuya, the 2nd-batch trains were delivered as 6-car sets, and a handful of intermediate cars was delivered as well to lenghten the earlier 1st-batch trains.
However, there was a catch: the 2nd batch “additional cars” were fitted with the same IGBT-VVVF inverters as the “full formations”, making them incompatible with the GTO-VVVF inverters already fitted to the 1st-batch trains.
The solution was simple: since 4-car sets had only one inverter-fitted car (the MP car in this case) and 6-car sets needed two, it was decided to reform the 1st batch trains and split them in two groups – half of the batch “donated” their two intermediate cars to the other half, making 6-car sets, and they in turn would recieve four newly-manufactured intermediate cars.
The reformation was completed in 1996, ahead of the opening of the extension to Yotsuya and resulted in 1st batch sets 05 and 07 being fitted with Mitsubishi inverters, set 03 alone being fitted with Hitachi inverters and set 01 being fitted with one Hitachi and one Mitsubishi inverter, in an unique combination. The remaining “donor” sets 02, 04, 06 and 08 instead recieved the newly-manufactured intermediate cars and as such were fitted with IGBT-VVVF inverters, togheter with the “full” 2nd-batch sets 09 to 13.
A third batch followed suit in 1997, consisting of two 6-car sets (14 and 15) built by Tokyu Car Co. for the southward extension to Tameike-Sanno, with one intermediate stop at Nagatacho. These were still identical to the earlier sets, barred yet again for the inverter – this time still an IGBT-VVVF one, but manufactured by Mitsubishi instead.
Finally, by the late 1990s the final section of the Namboku Line, to Meguro, was nearing completion. Plans for this section were originally laid out for the Namboku Line to terminate independently at Meguro, however they were soon changed to allow for trough-service via Tokyu’s Mekama Line to Den-en-Chofu and beyond. While on Tokyu’s side works were quite hefty (including the need to split the Mekama Line into the Meguro Line to Tamagawa, wich was to recieve trough-services and the remaining portion as the Tamagawa Line between Tamagawa and Kamata, plus the need to adapt the Meguro Line to one-man operation and so on), TRTA only had to dig the actual line as theirs was the operational standard to be used.
Even Toei decided to adapt to the Namboku Line standards, reaching an agreement with TRTA to connect it’s Mita Line (a line wich had a difficult history and had remained orphaned of a southern extension since the mid-1970s) to the under-construction Namboku Line extension and then jointly-operate trough-services to the Meguro Line.
The extension to Meguro was finally completed in early 2000 and on the 26th of September regular services began, including trough-services to and from the Tokyu Meguro Line, both by Toei and TRTA.
To provide yet more rolling stock to cover the trough-services, TRTA placed another order of 9000 Series trains – these being the six 4th-batch sets (16 to 21) built by Nippon Sharyo (with yet another different inverter, this time a Toshiba-made IGBT-VVVF one) were delivered one year earlier in 1999, entering service with the opening of the extension to Meguro.
In 2002, the “operational area” of the 9000 Series extended yet again – northwards, for the first time in a decade, with the opening of the Saitama Rapid Railway, running from Akabane-Iwabuchi to Urawa-Misono.
This Rapid Railway covered the long-planned northern section of the Namboku Line to Urawa city, wich however, due to budget constraints, was given up by TRTA and taken over instead by a dedicated company, the namesake Saitama Rapid Railway, funded and managed by the prefectural government of Saitama. Since the railway provided it’s own rolling stock (the ten 2000 Series sets, mostly derived from the Namboku Line trains), no additional 9000 Series batches were purchased this time around.
In 2004, with the restructuration and rebranding of TRTA into the current Tokyo Metro, the 9000 Series fleet was inherited by the latter, with the stylish S-arrow logos being removed and replaced by the more modern, but slightly less fancier “M-heart” logos of the new company.
Finally, in 2009, the fifth and last 9000 Series batch was ordered: two trains (sets 22 and 23), built by Nippon Sharyo to provide additional rolling stock, both for revenue service and as additional spare trains.
Since the original 9000 Series design was now nearly 20 years old, the fifth batch 9000 Series sets were extensively re-designed, being based this time around on the much newer 08 Series for the Hanzomon Line, and especially Tokyo Metro’s then-lastest train, the 10000 Series for the Yurakucho and Fukutoshin Line, the now-newest line in Tokyo, having been opened one year earlier in 2008.
Among other things, the fifth-batch trains recieved a new front design, wich retained the distinctive wrap-around windows, but with an updated front lower-portion design (in particular the headlights) and a slightly modified livery, wich still retained the Namboku Line’s acqua colour, but with a new arragnment, including peculiar “pixel-style” portions near the ends of cars.
Several other modifications were made to the interiors, with newer, more comfortable seating and passenger information LCD displays, and to the technical equipment as well: Mitsubishi IGBT-VVVF inverters, improved bogeys and single-arm pantographs instead of diamond ones (as had been used on all previous 9000 Series batches).
The first set was delivered in January 2009, followed by the second in March of the same year, with both 5th batch sets entering regular revenue service on the 22nd of May, alongside and interchangeably with the other twenty-one 9000 Series sets.
Currently, all 23 Series sets, from the “former prototype” Set 01 up to the distinctive 5th batch sets are still in service, running on the Namboku Line and on correlated trough-services, to Urawa-Misono on the Saitama Rapid Railway or to Tamagawa and Musashi-Kosugi on the Tokyu Meguro Line.
This has been the standard “operating area” for over two decades now, however, plans are being made to extend the Namboku Line, or better to add a spur: Tokyo Metro announced in January 2022 plans to build a new Namboku Line section from Shirokane-Takanawa station to Shinagawa station, in order to connect with JR Tokai’s Chuo Linear Shinkansen, wich will have it’s terminus in Shinagawa (Shinagawa is also the largest station in Tokyo not to have an interchange with a Subway line – Toei Asakusa Line trains do run trough Shinagawa but as part of trough-services with Keikyu). Construction dates haven’t been announced yet, nor has been how the current service pattern will be affected. Two thigs are known: a mouth-watering 131 bilion yen pricetag (for 2.5Km without intermediate stations!) and an indicative completion timeframe of the mid-2030s.
This poses a problem – the 9000 Series is no longer, by some margin, the fancy high-tech train it was in the early 1990s – it’s design (and a third of the fleet) is now 30 years old, and depsite a currently ongoing refurbishment program for the first four batches, wich fetaures the replacement and upgrade of traction equipment to PMSM motors and IGBT-VVVF inverters with SiC components, as well as a (frankly unnecessary) change to a distinctively uglier livery, the trains themselves are unfortunately ageing, and sooner or later, a replacement will have be introduced, meaning it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a 9000 Series set at Shinagawa station.
Until then, the 9000 Series will remain in service for the forseeable future, shuttling between Urawa-Misono and Musashi-Kosugi, criscrossing Tokyo north to south.