DE10-hauled series 12 coaches (train 4820) running in a lush landscape at the foot of Mt. Yufu-dake near Yufuin on 15 August 1999.
By Minoru Shinozaki
As I was browsing the December 1999 issue of the JR timetable, of
the biggest news was the extension of "Tsubasa" route to Shinjo, about
this time last year, I was surprised and greatly disappointed to find
every train on the Kyudai Line (Kurume in Fukuoka Prefecture to Oita)
had the letter D at the end of its service number. The letter D
standing for DMU service, its addition on every service number meant
the termination of DE10 hauled passenger operations on the line.
Along with the Chikuho Line (Wakamatsu to Haruda both in Fukuoka
Prefecture, but some trains go to Mojiko on the Kagoshima Line) where
DD51 hauled passanger trains have survived even the December 2000
(4 services up and down: the service numbers are 2630: Nogata 6:50 to
Mojiko 8: 50, 6532: Iduka 6: 44 to Mojiko 8: 06, 6545: Wakamatsu 16: 00
to Izuka 17 :11 and 2647: Mojiko 17: 22 to Iduka 19:19), the Kyudai
Line had been one of the two lines on which diesel hauled stopping
regularly. Before the revision, Oita based DE10s were in service for
the 5 stopping trains in each direction (train numbers: 4821, 4823,
1821, 1823, 4825, 1825, 1820, 4820, 1822, 4822, and 4824). The
formation consisted of 3 or 4 series 12 passenger cars (blue cars with
a white belt, introduced in 1969) or 4 series 50 passenger cars (red
cars introduced in 1977).
The Kyudai Line, which runs through green hills and valleys to the
popular hot spring resort of Yufuin, boasts attractive, rusticated
scenery and is one of my favourite lines. As it is situated near my
wife's hometown Kumamoto, I visited it in the summer of 1999 to take a
diesel hauled local train on one day during our "O-bon" stay with her
parents. I caught the 9:00 "Ariake" 12 (series 783 panorama car) at
Kumamoto station and an hour's ride took me to Kurume where the Kyudai
Line branches from the Kagoshima Line. The train 1823 (DE101172
followed by 4 series 12 cars) arrived at Kurume at 10: 20 and left for
Yufuin 6 minutes later. Many of the passengers opened the windows
although it was a rather hot day in midsummer and the train was
air-conditioned. 10 minutes later our train whistled furiously and
suddenly came to a halt owing to trespassing by an old peasant woman.
We were all sticking our heads out of the window to see what was going
on, while the driver was scolding her -- a peaceful scene reminiscent
of good old days.
The introduction of series 151 "Kodama" was revolutionary not only
terms of speed. It was the first rolling stock with unopenable windows.
Now all the windows of JR's (and other companies') limited express
are sealed. Only on stopping train on local lines, we freely open and
shut the windows. So to feel a nice breeze coming in through train
windows is now a luxury allowed only to those who can afford time to
take such trains. But nowadays we have less and less chance of
experiencing this kind of joy.
Series 12 just after the introduction. A C58 hauled special train near Kiyokawa on the Riku'u West Line on 27 August 1972.
Series 12 just before its withdrawal from the service on the Kyudai Line. A DE101172 hauled stopping train near Yufuin on 15 August 1999.
A DD51 hauled "red train" (a series 50 car set) approaching Orio station on the Chikuho Line on 11 August 1999.
A DD51 hauled local service pausing at Mojiko Station on 11 August 1999.
Train 2630 (DD51 + series 50 coaches) heading for Mojiko as seen from its window on 11 August 1999.
All photos were taken by the author.