This month we take a look at the operations of a couple of lines in Yamagata Prefecture, which hugs the central spine in Tōhoku west of Sendai down to the Sea of Japan coast. The area is one of two in Japan which saw significant changes following the gauge conversion of the Oū Main Line to Standard Gauge to enable the Yamagata Mini-Shinkansen service to Tōkyō..
All Photos: Anthony Leith
The Aterazawa Line diverges from the Oū Main Line at Kita Yamagata, and has a length of 24 km's All services are operated by JR East 101 Series DMU which features a special "Fruits Liner" colour scheme. KiHa 101-4 was seen stabled with another class member awaiting another turn of service on the 7th October 2018.
A consequence of the gauge conversion of the Oū Main Line to Standard Gauge is the operation of local trains on that gauge using 701 Series EMU's of the 5500 sub-class, such as this one seen at Akayu on a northbound service to Yamagata. 8th October 2018.
Also in the area is the Yamagata Railway Flower Nagai Line. This 3rd sector railway was formed in 1988 when JR East ceased operating the route YR-883 was seen arriving at a forlorn looking Imaizumi Station on 8th October 2018. Imaizumi is a junction station with JR East Yonezaka Line in both directions. From the east in the right of shot the Yonezawa line joins the formation. To the west, the JR Line and 3rd sector lines share right-of-way to cross the Shirakawa where the lines diverge again