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.
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.
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'.
EF81 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.