The SL Exhibition Hall and Turntable Square is described as an attraction of the Tobu Railway, but it’s pretty much a depot for the SL Taiju, publicly accessible during the day. Located within the paid area of Shimo-Imaichi Railway Station, it is free to access as long as you have a valid ticket as it is connected to the same overhead bridge which links the platforms.
The SL Exhibition Hall and Turntable Square from the overhead bridge. On non-SL working days like the day of my visit, it is open from 10am to 4.30pm. On SL working days, it will be open longer, from 8am to 7pm probably for passengers to watch the full shunting activities.
A shot of the delivery of the SL Taiju coaches from JR Hokkaido along the bridge.
Heading down to the SL Exhibition Hall and Turntable Square. The SL Exhibition Hall can be accessed from the middle level, while the Turntable Square is all the way down.
The welcome arch of the SL Taiju Turntable Square.
The path is paved with fake tracks leading to the turntable.
The signboard for the Turntable Square with SL Taiju’s logo.
On non-SL working days, SL Taiju is on display on the turntable for all to see.
The rake of the SL Taiju is formed of 3 JNR 14 Series coaches. Towards Kinugawa-Onsen, the consist is formed of スハフ14 1, オハ14 1 and スハフ14 5. All seats on the SL Taiju are reserved.
If operating on the DL Taiju service, it would look similar to the Ekspres Selatan service when the JNR 14 Series coaches were still operating on KTM services.
The SL Taiju C11 207 sitting on her personal turntable. C11 207 actually belongs to JR Hokkaido but is on loan to Tobu Railway.
Behind the turntable, there is also a purpose-built locomotive shed for C11 207 and DE10 1099.
On non-SL working days, DE10 1099 can rest inside the locomotive shed. DE10 1099‘s role is to be SL Taiju’s banker. However, on scheduled days where C11 207 is resting, DE10 1099 operates her own DL Taiju service at lower fares.
Like a model train, DE10 1099 has her own glass display case at the locomotive shed.
The conductor car, ヨ8709, is attached behind C11 207.
Heading back towards the Exhibition Hall.
The familiar set of doors on the JNR 14 Series coaches which I’ve walked in and out of many times despite me not being in Japan. Here in Japan though, the full set of plates can be found in all the slots of the coach.
The SL Taiju has a destination sign for both legs of the journey, which means they do not change at terminals.
The SL Taiju’s reserved car plate is also placed in the slot beside the door.
Heading into the SL Exhibition Hall.
The ground floor has a cafe area where you can buy SL Taiju souvenirs and drinks from SL Taiju vending machines.
Paper models of SL Taiju’s fleet.
Upstairs, the exhibition about the SL Taiju continues.
A diorama featuring SL Taiju stands in the middle of the hall.
Some historical information about the steam history of Tobu Railway.
Once done with the exploration, I headed back out to the platform via the SL Taiju-themed bridge.
The upcoming train departures from Shimo-Imaichi Station.
Here, I headed down to Platform 1 to catch the next train to Tobu-Nikko.
The SL Exhibition Hall and Turntable Square was a fantastic experience to get up close with the old trains running on Tobu Railway as heritage. Not many companies would allow passengers to get up close to these trains, let alone construct a depot with passengers walking around it in mind. It’s also good to see how well some JNR 14 Series coaches are surviving in her homeland, charging passengers premium fares to ride on them, while some of them sent overseas did not fare so well.