Hokutan Railway (北丹鉄道)

Hokutan Railway is a railway operator which operated a line running northward from the Fukuchiyama Station in Fukichiyama City, Kyoto Prefecture to Komori Station.

Company outline

At the time of 1968

Company name : Hokutan Railway Co., Ltd.
Location of head office : Fukuchiyama City, Kyoto Prefecture (inside the Fukuchiyama-nishi Station)
Establishment : February 1, 1920. At the time of establishment, the company name was 'Hokutan Keiben Railway Co., Ltd..'
Business : Local railway business, Road transportation business
Capital : 1.5 M\
Number of employees : 43 (railway division 24)
Principal shareholders : Unknown


The company operated a railway line that ran along the Yura River from the Fukuchiyama Station located in Fukuchiyama City, the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, to the Komori Station (near the Oe Station (Kyoto Prefecture) of Kitakinki Tango Railway Miyafuku Line operated by Kitakinki Tango Railway) located in Oe Town, Kasa County (Kyoto Prefecture) (a part of Fukuchiyama City at present). It started business on September 22, 1923. The company name was Hokutan Keiben Railway Co., Ltd. when it was established, but it was renamed when it started business.

The company initially intended to shorten the Kitakinki Tango Railway Miyazu Line from the Fukuchiyama Station, but it gave up to construct the line beyond the Komori Station because the point of the Miyazu Line's railway bridge was shifted towards the mouth of Yura river compared to the original plan. Thereafter, Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation decided to construct a line connecting Miyazu Station and Komori Station as the Miyamori Line, and construction work began in 1966. The line's route was changed into the one that connects Miyazu and Komori almost linearly by constructing a tunnel piercing Mt. Oe.

However, when Komori Mine located along the line was closed in 1969, Hokutan Railway's freight service volume decreased sharply and the company faced difficulty in continuing business. Under such circumstances, the company suspended its railway operation on March 2, 1971, before the completion of the Miyamori Line, in the name of flood control projects of Yura River, and it also suspended its bus operation soon after. The company was dissolved in 1974 when its railway line was formally abolished, and it assigned its bus business to Kyoto Kotsu Co., Ltd (Kameoka).

The Miyamori Line, which could have become useless after the abolition of Hokutan Railway, was renamed the Miyafuku Line in 1975 when Komori (Oe) - Fukuchiyama section was added to its construction plan, and the construction work of this section started in 1979. Hokutan Railway wanted the nation to purchase the roadbed, but it was not realized because the construction route of the Miyafuku Line was altered due to flood control projects of Yura River.

The construction work of the Miyamori Line was suspended when the Japan National Railway Reform Act was enacted in 1980, but it was taken over by a joint public-private company. The line commenced operation in 1988 as the Miyafuku Railway (Current Kitakinki Tango Railway) Miyafuku Line.

Reality of railway business

While the line was constructed along the Yura River, its track was laid on the riverbed due to the shortage of construction funds. As a result, the line was frequently damaged by the flood of Yura River. As the company was always in financial difficulties until its dissolution because of chronic small traffic volume, it couldn't afford to conduct the maintenance work properly and as a result, the track was devastated. The shape of the line's curve section was not circular but angulate, something like a curve drawn by lining up matchsticks. The reason for the above was that spikes couldn't fix the track. The cause of such situation was that railroad ties were corroded by mud that was piled up after ballast was washed away by a flood. As each piece of rail that makes up a curve is straight, a curve became an angulated shape after spikes were removed. The company couldn't afford to replace railroad ties even under such a situation, and tried to reinforce by driving small nails beside spikes. Further, the gauge became uneven because the track was not fixed, and trains sometimes went off the track. Because of such track conditions, maximum speed was limited to only 25 km/h. As passenger cars were also aging, some old cars were warped by vibration even when they were running at such low speed.

It took 45 to 52 minutes for 12.4 km between Fukuchiyama and Komori (it took about 33 minutes at one time in the past). The reason why Hokutan Railway, which was then in a desperate situation with the numbers of passengers continuously decreasing, continued its operation was that it expected the line's connection with the Miyamori Line as well as the purchase by the nation. As of 2009, the required time between Fukuchiyama and Kawamori of the Miyafuku Line is 12 minutes at the shortest by a limited express electric train and 20 minutes by a local diesel car (stops at five stations).


1919 : License for the line was granted. 1921 : Company name was changed from the original name Hokutan Keiben Railway to Hokutan Railway. September 22, 1923 : Operation of Fukuchiyama - Kawamori section started. March 2, 1971 : Operation of Fukuchiyama - Kawamori section was suspended. February 28, 1974 : Abolition of Fukuchiyama - Kawamori section was approved.

Data of the line

Distance of the line (business kilometers) : 12.4 km
Track gauge : 1067 mm
Number of stations : Eight stations (inclusive of the station of origin and the terminal station)
Double-track section : Nil (whole line is single-track)
Electrified section : Nil (whole line is not electrified)


At the time of inauguration
All trains stopped at each station. Six round trips.
Freight service : Unknown

At the time of 1968
All trains stopped at each station and made six round trips. Two diesel cars ran alternately for three months, and it drew a passenger car during rush hour, an up train in the morning and a down train in the evening. As for freight service, DB5L2 pulled a private freight car and a diesel car pulled Wa 1 in the case of small freight. As the staff of Fukuchiyama-nishi station administered the station, passenger cars arrived at the station during daytime when operation interval was long and were forwarded to the Fukuchiyama-nishi station along with train crews/station staff and were kept there. During the interval of railway service, the company's route buses made five round trips on the road runs parallel to the railway.

At the time when the operation was suspended
All trains stopped at each station. Six round trips.
Freight service : Nil
Small freight : Unknown

List of stations

Fukuchiyama Station (0.0km) - Fukuchiyama-nishi Station (1.1 km) - Kamiamazu Station (5.5 km) - Shimoamazu Station (7.5 km) - Kujo Station (9.8 km) - Tadeharu Stop (11.5 km) - Komori Station (12.4 km)

At the time when the operation was suspended, all stations had one platform and one track. Provided, however, that the Fukuchiyama Station had a connecting track to that of Japan National Railway (JNR), the Fukuchiyama-nishi Station had a side track (a depo ?) and the Komori Station had a few side tracks.

Connecting lines

Fukuchiyama Station : The Sanin Main Line, The Fukuchiyama Line

Diesel locomotives

DLC type (DLC1)
It was manufactured in 1952 by Mori Product Co., Ltd. by using the lower part of type C tank locomotive No.1 steam locomotive. C convex shape.
Its engine was Mitsubishi DB5L (120 ps, 1800 rpm)
As its rod became too old, its use was being suspended while its engine was reused for DB5L2.

DB5L type (DB5L2)
It was produced in 1956 by Nippon Yusoki Co., Ltd. B convex shape. It is said that it was produced by remodeling JNR's track change locomotive. Therefore, it was not suitable for using on the track and troubles, including overheating, often occurred. As a result, its engine was worn down and replaced by the one of DLC1.

Diesel cars

Kiha 04 type (Kiha 101-102) (both were the second generation)
It was a former JNR diesel car Kiha 04 type. Kiha 101 and Kiha 102 were purchased on November 7, 1965 and June 18, 1968 respectively. Its engine was DMF13 B (120ps, 1500rpm). Capacity of Kiha 101 was 89 persons (62 seats) and that of Kiha 102 was 90 persons (62 seats).

Passenger cars

Hani 10 type (Hani 11)
The company purchased Nankai Electric Railway's Mohayu 751 in 1959 after remodeling it for passenger car.
Its capacity was 74 persons (38 seats)
It had an 'egg-shaped' body with five windows installed on its curved sides, three doors, double roof and Brill 27-MCB-2 trucks, and demonstrated the shape of an electric car used by a private railway company in Kansai region during the Taisho era. Due to aging, however, its ventilator was removed and its roof was covered by canvas around 1961. It was used in such a strange shape until it was scrapped.

Ha 12 type (Ha 12)
It was an electric car (accompanying car) called Saha 4 which was used by the Hirose Line of Ichibata Electric Railway Co. ltd., and the company purchased it in 1960 when the above line was abolished. It was a gaji-style car whose shaft bearing was directly installed on the underframe. Its use was being suspended.

Freight cars

Wa 1 type (1-3 ?)
It was a 10-ton wooden box car. Its use was being suspended.

Wabu 1 type (1-2)
It was a 10-ton wooden box car with hand-brake. Its use was being suspended.

Wa 1 type (Wa 1) (second generation)
It was purchased in 1960 from Kinki Nippon Railway Company. It was a 10-ton box car.

It was scrapped before 1968.

The date of scrapping is unclear because relevant documents were discarded when the head office of Hokutan Railway suffered from a flood.

Steam locomotives

JNR Steam Locomotive Type 1100, Type 1060 (1100 series manufactured by Sharp, Stuart Co. ltd.) (1060)
The company purchased it in 1923 from the Ministry of Railways. It was a C-type tank locomotive. It was mainly used for construction work and was seldom used after the inauguration. It was sold to Omi Railway Corporation in December 1926.

No1 and No.2
These were manufactured by Kisha Kaisha Company when the company started business in September 1923. They were C-type tank locomotives. They were used as the main force since the inauguration, but the use of No.1 was suspended when the company purchased No.3. It revived later. No.1 was remodeled to DLC1 in 1952. No.2 was scrapped in 1956, but its lower part was not reused since the problem became apparent concerning the rod of DLC1.

It was purchased in March 1944 from Seiso Electric Railroad. It was a C-type tank locomotive. The company needed a large-size locomotive in order to transport ballast water for the Imperial Japanese Navy. With transportation amount decreased after the War, it was seldom used because of problems like track damage and fuel cost, and it was sold in 1950 to Befu Railway.

Diesel cars

Kiha 100 type (Kiha 101 (the first generation) => Ha 101)
It was purchased in 1940 from the Kanto Railway Joso Line. It was a two-axle diesel car, and its engine was Buda BA-6 (49 PS, 1000 rpm). Its capacity was 60 persons (32 seats). As its engine was damaged during World War Ⅱ because of the use of substitute fuel (firewood gas), it was used as a substitute for a passenger car. It was formally converted into a passenger car in 1949 after its engine was removed. It was renamed Ha 101 around in 1952. It was scrapped on September 29, 1959.

Kiha 100 type (Kiha 102 (the first generation) => Ha 102)
It was purchased in 1940 from the Itsukaichi Line. It was a two-axle gasoline car, and its engine was Wokensha 6-KV (66 PS). Its capacity was 40 persons (number of seats is unknown). Although an apparatus for substitute fuel was installed in 1944, it was not usable and the car was used as a substitute for a passenger car. It was formally converted into a passenger car around in 1946 after its engine was removed. It was renamed Ha 102 around in 1962. It was scrapped in August 1957.

Passenger cars

Roha 1 type (Roha1 and 2 => Hanifu 1 and 2)
They were manufactured by Kisha Kaisha Company when the company started business in September 1923. However, they were delivered in December due to the Kanto Great Earthquake, and the company rented passenger cars from the Ministry of Railways during that period. They were two-axle wooden cars, and they had three sets of three-connected windows on the open deck. The capacity of each of them was 10 persons for the second class seats and 32 persons for the third class seats. As few passengers used the second class, its space was converted to a luggage room as of April 25, 1928. Lighting inside a car was electrified by a battery placed in a luggage room. Hanifu 1 and Hanifu 2 were scrapped in August 1957 and in August 1959 respectively.

Hafu 50 type (Hafu 50 and 51)
These were manufactured by Kisha Kaisha Company in December 1923. They were two-axle wooden cars with hand brake. Their specifications were the same with those of Roha 1 type and the capacity was 44 persons for the third class seats. Hafu 51 was damaged by war at the factory of the Minister of Railways, and a passenger car of similar size was returned in place of it. They had bench-style seats and the capacity was 56 persons for each. Both were scrapped before September 1957.

Ha 20 type (Ha 20)
It was manufactured by Kisha Kaisha Company in December 1923. It was a two-axle wooden car. Its specifications were the same with those of Roha 1 type and the capacity was 48 persons for the third class seats. It was scrapped in August 1957.

Freight cars

To 200 type (200-202)=>To 1 type (1-3)
They were 10-ton wooden open wagons. To1 and To 2 were scrapped before 1942. It is unknown when To 3 was scrapped.

To 300 type (300-301)=>To 1 type (4-5)
They were 10-ton open wagons. To 300 was equipped with a hand brake. They were scrapped before 1942.

To 140 type (140, 141, (Futo) 145)
They were 6-ton wooden open wagons. Futo 145 was equipped with a hand brake. They were scrapped before 1942.

To 160 type (160 and 165)
They were 7-ton wooden open wagons. They were converted into 10-ton cars later. They were scrapped before 1942.

[Original Japanese]