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Tokyo Metro shows off 60-year-old subway cars

JIJI

Three subway cars that operated in Japan and Argentina for some 60 years in total were shown to the media in Tokyo on Monday after undergoing a thorough refurbishing.

It is unusual for a train car to mark a 60-year anniversary, well beyond the standard span of 50 years, according to officials of Tokyo Metro Co., which held the media event for the Type 500 cars at its train yard in Nakano Ward.

The Type 500, known for its red body with a white-and-silver line on both sides, debuted on the Marunouchi Line in Tokyo in November 1957, three years after the line opened.

After they were retired in 1996, 110 Type 500 cars were sent to Argentina for use in the subway system in its capital, Buenos Aires. Some of the cars are still in service there, while four were transported back to Japan in July 2016.

The four cars were covered in rust and graffiti, and Tokyo Metro employees started scrubbing them off. After the cars were fully repaired, including the wheels, they were given a fresh paint job and three of them were displayed to journalists on Monday.

The three cars will be shown to the public Dec. 10, along with other subway cars, at the Nakano train yard. Applications to attend the event exceeded Tokyo Metro’s expectations by more than 10 times. Applications are no longer being accepted.

Tokyo Metro brought back the subway cars primarily to give young engineers the opportunity to learn subway car technology.

Older models have simpler structures than modern computer-controlled cars and are therefore suitable as study materials, the officials said.

The company aims to let the repaired cars run again on subway tracks in Japan after additional repair work, they said.