The Class EF64 (EF64形) is a 6-axle (Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement) DC electric locomotive type operated on passenger and freight services in Japan since 1964.
The class was designed to replace the ageing EF16 class locomotives used on the steeply-graded Ou and Chuo mainlines in the early 1960s. Two prototype locomotives, EF64 1 and 2, were delivered in 1964, built by Toshiba and Kawasaki Sharyo respectively. The basic body design was based on that of the earlier Class EF62s but with the more usual Japanese Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement. Livery from the start was all-over blue with just the lower cab ends painted cream.
Full production started in 1965, continuing to 1976 with loco EF64 79. Minor variations within the class included the discontinuation of the cab ventilation grilles above the marker lights from EF64 46 onward. Locos EF64 1 to 12 and EF64 29 to 55 were equipped with train-heating generators for passenger use, and are distinguishable by the train heating indicator lights next to the cab doors. The DT120A/DT121A bogies were virtually identical to those used on the Class EF70.
The first batch of locos, consisting of EF64 1 to 12, were assigned to the Ōu Main Line between Fukushima and Yonezawa, where their duties included assisting KiHa 80 Tsubasa DMUs over the steep gradients.
The second batch, from EF64 13 onward, were allocated to the Chuo Main Line for use primarily on freight duties. With the conversion of the Ou Main Line from 1,500 V DC to 20 kV AC electrification in October 1968, the first 12 locos were transferred to the Chuo Main Line.
Nowadays, with the exception of a handful of locos owned by JR East/Central/West for charter and occasional passenger haulage, the subclass is divided evenly between Shiojiri and Aichi depots (JR Freight) at either end of the Chuo Line.
The first EF64-1000, EF64 1001, appeared in 1980 for use on the Joetsu Line, replacing ageing Class EF15/16 and EF58 locomotives. This subclass could almost be described as a totally new design. The body was lengthened from 17,900 mm to 18,600, and the bodysides were given an asymmetrical appearance with ventilation grilles at one end and windows at the other. PS22 scissors-type pantographs replaced the PS17 lozenge-type pantographs of the EF64-0s. The bogies were the same DT138A/DT139A type as used on Class EF81 locomotives. A total of 53 EF64-1000s were built by 1982, all by Kawasaki and Toyo Electric. Locos from EF64 1033 onward were built without train-heating generators.
Apart from a handful of locos owned by JR East and based at Takasaki and Nagaoka depots for use on sleeper and charter train haulage, the subclass is largely based at Takasaki for Joetsu Line freight duties. Locos EF64 1046 to 1050, however, are based at Okayama depot for use on Hakubi Line freight duties.
EF64 1030 and 1031, owned by JR East, both have EMU-couplers and jumper sockets, and these locos are frequently used for hauling new rolling stock from the Niitsu factory to Tokyo via the Jōetsu Line, and also for hauling withdrawn rolling stock to Nagano.
From 1996, the EF64-0s underwent a life-extension refurbishment programme, with EF64 67 the first locomotive treated. Refurbishment was carried out at Omiya and Hiroshima Works, with locos initially released in the JR Freight livery of two-tone blue and light grey. Minor livery variations were implemented during the programme, and locos treated at Hiroshima were distinguished by having mustard-coloured cab gangway doors.
From 2004 onward, the JR Freight livery was simplified by using a single shade of dark blue and light grey.
The first EF64-1000, EF64 1015, also underwent refurbishment in 2003, appearing in the then-standard JR Freight two-tone blue and light grey livery. However, following complaints from staff about the difficulties in visually distinguishing the loco from refurbished EF65s, a new livery was devised and applied to the next loco to be refurbished, EF64 1009, consisting of standard blue with broad white diagonal bands and large red "JRF" bodyside logos. The first Okayama-based EF64-1000, EF64 1047 was refurbished in July 2006 at Hiroshima Works, and this was released in a further simplified livery of all-over blue with white bodyside stripe and light grey lower cab front.
There have been no accident-related withdrawals of EF64s, but the first member of the class was withdrawn in 2003 following the introduction of the JR Freight Class EH200. By April 2007, 24 EF64-0s had been withdrawn, and a further 9 were in storage.
As of 1 April 2016[update], 47 EF64s remained in service, with eight (including the sole remaining Class EF64-0, EF64 37) operated by JR East, and 39 EF64-1000s operated by JR Freight.
As of 2014[update], two Class EF64 locomotives were preserved.