Konan railway

Konan Railway

Tsugaru railway

Tsugaru Railway

About Tsugaru and Konan Railways

By Claude Biname

The Tsugaru and Konan Railways are both situated in the Aomori Prefectur, the northernmost prefecture of the main Japanese island of Honshu in the Tohoku region. This is a very interesting region both on the railway and the touristic aspects with very few but really motivated foreign visitors. The area is dominated by the Towada-Hachimantai National Park and the Mount Iwaki, the little brother in shape of the famous Fuji-yama.

The main city outside of Aomori is Hirosaki, from where the two lines of the Konan Railway are diverging. Hirosaki can easily be reached by express trains from Aomori and Niigata. Some of these trains are bearing the name of the famous "Japanese serow", wild animal particularly present is that area and called "Kamoshika".

Tsugaru Railway
From Hirosaki, diesel railcar services are bringing you to Goshogawara where begins Tsugaru railway. This line is established on the Tsugaru Peninsula which is facing the island of Hokkaido. The line covers a distance of about 20 kilometers from Goshogawara to Tsugaru-Nakasato through a rather flat rice paddle field and fruit trees landscape.

Since 1996, the company is in possession of new rolling stock composed of nice dark yellow diesel railcars (see photos) which are operating a rather frequent service but without regular times and not always in direct connections with the JR trains, the traffic being mostly local (shopping women, school children, etc...).

The old rolling stock composed of old diesel cars and passenger coaches are now put aside on or sometimes alongside of the tracks. Some are covered with plastic covers (for a kind of preservation?) and some others are on side tracks at Goshogawara depot where some preservation work is undertaken like inner wooden parts painting. One of the photos shows the interior of such a passenger coach with its old coal stove as unique heating method.

Travelling on the Tsugaru railway is based on the fare calculation through the typical electronic board used in buses and payment through the fare box (see photo). On the photo can also be seen a row of books in a shelve on the dashboard; this is a kind of library from which the passengers can take a book for reading during their trip.

nNce dark yellow diesel railcar

A diesel railcar of the Tsugaru Railway passenger fleet, at Goshogawara.


The Tsugaru Railway still uses semaphores, from a train pulling into Goshogawara. The track on the right is JR's.

Old rolling stock

At a loop en route to Tsugaru Nakazato. Old rolling stock is put aside on a siding

The interior of an old coach

The interior of a passenger coach with its old coal stove as unique heating method.

Snowplow and old coaches

A snowplow and old coaches put aside for winter work in a row on a siding at Tugaru-Nakazato.

The interior of a diesel railcar

The fare payment system uses a combination of an electronic money collector and indication board common for buses. Books in a shelve on the dashboard is a kind of library for passengers.

Konan Railway
The Konan Railway, since the abandonment of the non electrified short line between Kawabe and Kuroishi, is constituted of two lines departing from Hirosaki but without connection in between. One is leaving from behind of the JR tracks and reachable by a pedestrian footbridge and the other end of line, at Owani-Onsen.

The line to Kuroishi serves a large plain to that rather important city of which one can hardly imagine that it is not served by JR. Both are using non modern and semi modern rolling stock, of which some stainless two cars EMU's (see photos).

One electric locomotives can still be seen in the depot and at Owani-Onsen station together with snowplow but no passenger coaches have been noticed during our several visits.

series 7000

Series 7000 came from Tokyu Electric Railway is major stock of the Konan EMU fleet.

The Konan railway now serves with semi modern rolling stock. The EMU on the right is ex-Nankai/Osaka type 1521 purchased secondhand, at Kuroishi.

An electric locomotive and a snowplow

One electric locomotive can still be seen in the depot at Owani-Onsen station together with a snowplow.

Claude Biname is a Belgian JRS member. He made a 29-day rail travel across Japan in May 2000 with his son Eric. This article represents one part of their impression of regional private railways. All photos are taken by the author or his son.

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