In recent times JR Hokkaidō has faced numerous problems; safety problems leading to fires aboard trains & a declining population with the resultant curtailment of service on some lines. The cuts in service are believed not to be ceasing anytime soon if reports in the Japanese media are to be believed. This month we take a look at a few of the scenes which are already history or will be in the very near future.
All Photos: Anthony Leith
The section Rumoi to Mashike will close to traffic on the 4th December. JR Hokkaidō have indicated their intention to close the remainder of the line from the junction at Fukagawa in the near future. This scene depicted KiHa 54-505 at Mashike awaiting the afternoon return run to Fukagawa. Earlier rationalisation of the former yard can be clearly seen. 28th May 2014.
Yūbari is at the end of the 16.1 Km branch line off the Sekishō Line from Shin-Yūbari. This section of line has been announced for closure in 2019, with the Yūbari City Council in agreement with JR Hokkaidō's plans. In this scene, KiHa 40-1704 was at Yūbari on 2nd June 2014. The building in the background is a hotel called "Hotel Mount Racey", adjacent to a ski field of the same name.
The 146 Km long Hidaka Main Line has been closed beyond Mukawa since September 2015 when a Typhoon caused a storm surge, severing the line beyond. No services have resumed since and the service is currently replaced by bus. JR Hokkaidō have indicated recently that unless the line can be converted to a 3rd sector operation, they will close the line permanently. In this scene, 2 KiHa 40's were scene crossing at Shizunai on 3rd June 2014.