Echizen Railway operates rail services between Fukui and
Katsuyama Station (Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line) and Fukuiguchi
and Mikuniminato (Mikuni-Arawa Line) in Fukui Prefecture.
The lines were previously owned by Keifuku Electric Railway
until 2002, but rail services had been terminated since 2001
following two rail crashes in a six-month span, which forced
the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
(MLIT) to order the shutdown of the two lines.
Keifuku Electric Railway formally applied
for permission for closure of the lines in 19
October 2001. Bus services were provided,
but it led to road congestions and failed to
meet the needs of local residents. Echizen
Railway was established in 17 September
2002 with financial support from Fukui
Prefecture, to maintain rail service in both
lines. Since its inception, the company
has been making active efforts to attract
passengers such as lowering fares,
arranging tie-ups with local hot spring inns
(accommodation fee discount), and offering
services by railway attendants.
Local Rail Business
Sanriku Railway is a third-sector railway company opened in 1 April
1984 in Iwate Prefecture to maintain local rail services following the
decision to close Japanese National Railways’ (JNR) Sakari Miyako,
and Kuji lines. The company operates two lines, Minami-Rias line
(from Sakari to Kamaishi), and Kita-Rias line (from Miyako to Kuji).
The company suffered tremendous damages in the 11 March 2011
earthquake and tsunami, but managed to restart services partially
in just 9 days. The service was fully resumed on 6 April 2014. JR
EAST Yamada Line will be transferred to Sanriku Railway after its
restoration, linking together the northern and southern sections of
Wakasa Railways’ Wakasa Line connects Wakasa and Koge
stations in Western Japan. The line started operation in Januray
1930, as government railways’ Wakasa Line. It was converted
to quasi-public line in 14 October 1987, following the closure
of JR West Wakasa Line. Since 2009, infrastructure is owned
by local municipalities and train operation is conducted by the
company. The company is known for its active management
style, such as exhibiting a steam locomotive and holding test
drive events and festivals, and renovating its station and railway
facilities such as turntable into a tourist attraction. The company
is also actively collaborating with local residents, to encourage
rail use. Due to such policies and management, rail ridership
for the line has increased, despite decreasing local population
and flagging economy.
Local Rail Business
Toyama Light Rail
Toyama Light Rail is a LRT (Light Rail Transit) tram system started
operation in December 2006, using tracks converted from former
JR West Toyamako Line. Toyamako Line was suffering from lack
of ridership due to proliferation of privately-owned vehicles. When
the construction plan for Hokuriku Shinkansen was approved in
2001, the issue was brought up on what to do with the unprofitable
Three options were discussed: 1 build a viaduct and elevate the
line to integrate the northern and southern section of the city; 2
abolish the line in lieu of a bus service 3 convert the line to LRT.
The third option was adopted, and construction began in 2005.
The LRT has played a pivotal role in achieving Toyama Compact
City strategy (more information on P 16). It is planned that the LRT
will be directly connected to Toyama City Tram network, after the
completion of renovation of Toyama Station.