The Red List of Trains in Japan

JR East 209 series
Izukyu 3000 series

The original-style of the 209 series on Nambu Line

Data (as of 6 Jul 2024)

Status:  Vulnerable  (JR East)
 Least Concern  (Izukyu)
Constructed in: 1992-2004
Number built: 1,036*
Registered: 442

*Including 30 carriages of 901 series (prototype), and 6 carriages converted from TWR 70-000 series.


The 209 series is a type of commuter train, marked as "new generation train" by JR East. The company designed it as "half the weight, cost and lifespan" of JNR 103 series, the most common commuter train at that time. Three ten-carriage units of 901 series were introduced as prototypes in 1992, and mass-production of the 209 series began in the following year.

The 209 series had been prima facie successful, as new inverter-controlled traction was eco-friendly (half the energy consumption of the 103 series). The shorter lifespan sounds contradictory to eco-friendliness, but the company considered that retaining trains too long would make introducing the latest technologies difficult. However, since the bodies of 209 series trains deteriorated far earlier than thought, JR East had to reinforce them later, resulting in a questionable consequence with regard to the overall cost.

The series was introduced to Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi Lines, and a few to Nambu and Hachiko Lines. Those on Hachiko Line was called variant 3000, as they had been compatible with cold climate. In 2004, JR East purchased six redundant carriages of 70-000 series from Tokyo Waterfront Railway (Rinkai Line), and incorporated them to the 209 series. Those on Keihin-Tohoku Line were replaced with E233 series by 2010, but many of them were converted to suburban type (with transverse seating and toilet) and reallocated to Chiba Prefecture. One unit was converted to an experimental train Mue Train in 2008.

In 1998, JR East introduced another version of the 209 series (variant 500, hereinafter referred to as 209-500 series), which looks different from the previous version. At that time, JR East was developing a new commuter train (which later became E231 series), but the company had to replace the 103 series on Chuo and Sobu Lines (Local) urgently as they frequently broke down. The 209-500 series looks like the E231 series but the traction was identical to the previous version.

Furthermore, two ten-carriage units of variant 1000 (hereinafter referred to as 209-1000 series) were introduced to Joban Line (Local) and through-services to Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. Since they are compatible with the underground, they look completely different from other groups of the 209 series.

Original Group
 Line serving (served)  In service 
 Keihin-Tohoku & Negishi Lines  1992-2010 
 Hachiko Line  1996-2022 
 Nambu Line  1993-2017 
 Chiba Area  2009- 
 Izukyu  2022- 

209-500 Group
 Line serving (served)  In service 
 Chuo & Sobu Lines  1998-2019 
 Keiyo Line  2008- 
 Musashino Line  2010- 
 Keihin-Tohoku & Negishi Lines  2000-09 
 Hachiko Line  2017- 

209-1000 series
 Line serving (served)  In service 
 Joban (Local) & Chiyoda Lines  1999-2018 
 Chuo Line (Rapid)  2019- 

Current Operations & Future Prospects

JR East has been using the 209 series in Chiba Prefecture and on Keiyo, Musashino, Chuo (Rapid), Kawagoe and Hachiko Lines.

In Chiba Prefecture, ex-Keihin-Tohoku units are used on Sobu Main, Sotobo, Uchibo, Kashima and Togane Lines. Each unit consists of four or six coaches, and forms up to eight coaches. They are gradually replaced with E131 series, and some of them were resold to Izukyu where they are called 3000 series.

Those on Keiyo and Musashino Lines are the 209-500. All but one units are formed of eight coaches with Musashino Line livery, while a ten-car unit is used on Keiyo Line with pink bands.

Two units of the 209-1000 series are used as stopgaps on Chuo Line (Rapid) while the E233 series are being refurbished. They series were reallocated from Joban Line (Local) in 2019, and the trade union says that these trains will remain there until around 2024. Both units are operated in accordance with fixed timetables.

Those on Kawagoe and Hachiko Lines are the 209-500 series group (which were refurbished and converted, and now called variant 3500).

The variant 500 (including the variant 3500) are likely to be in service until around 2030, while others are likely to be withdrawn by the late-2020s.


Those in Chiba area were once used on Keihin-Tohoku Line. They sometimes run in the capital for maintenance.

The original-style units on Hachiko Line were replaced with the 209-3500 series by 2020.

Two ex-TWR units were used on Hachiko Line. They were slightly different from original ones.

Mue Train runs to develop various new devices such as track monitoring system.

Only one 209-500 unit is now used on Keiyo Line beyond Kaihimmakuhari.

Musashino Line units run Chuo Line (Rapid) towards Hachioji at peak hours.

Two ex-Joban Line units of the 209-1000 series now run Chuo Line (Rapid).

Izukyu has been using two four-car units since 2022, and they are de facto an eight-car unit. It is called 3000 series Aloha Train.

(Updated: 6 Jul 2024)

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