Japanese Railfreight

2. Operational Aspects:

JR Freight operates 895 locomotives, based at 17 locations. Of these, 679 are needed for regular duties. Some are restricted to a limited sphere of operations, as in the case of the eight Hiroshima based EF67s which work exclusively on the Sanyo Main Line assisting heavy freight trains between Hiroshima and Saijo(u), 32 kilometers to the east. Longer operations, but again restricted to one route, are those of the DF200s based at Washibetsu in Hokkaido and operating between Goryo(u)kaku (near Hakodate) and Sapporo via there. Others, such as the dual voltage fleet of EF81s have a wider sphere of operations and these will be looked at in detail later.

EF67 103 banking at the rear of the same freight aboveEF65 67 at front end of eastbound Sanyo Line freight

Right is EF65 67 at the front end of eastbound Sanyo Main Line freight while left is EF67 103 banking at the rear of the same train.
Both were taken at Mukainada station, east of Hiroshima, in Nov. 1996, by Anthony Robins.

While privatization may have created a freight company separate from the six regional passenger companies, that does not mean that their operations have by any means been completely separated. For example it is the fifteen DD51s of JR East at Takasaki which haul trains to Nippon Cement via the Hachiko(u) Line between Hachioji and Takasaki, rather than JR Freight locos. Similarly, JR Freight DD51s provide motive power for remaining loco hauled trains in Kyushu.

A further example is the Moji based JR Freight EF81 which hauls the westbound 'Sakura' sleeper (Tokyo to Nagasaki and Sasebo) for the eight minutes through the tunnel under the Kanmon Straits between Honshu and Kyushu. It takes over from a Shimonoseki based EF66 of JR West which has hauled the train throughout from Tokyo and hands over to an Oita based ED76 of JR Kyushu which continues to Nagasaki. On the other hand, it is an Oita based EF81 of JR Kyushu which handles the tunnel section for the Tokyo bound 'Sakura'.

Image of EF81 1EF81 1 locomotive, the same type as described above, used to be in use between Maibara and Toyama on the Hokuriku Main Line. Photo by M.Ichiyanagi, in 1985.

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