JR Hokkaido acquires new wedge plow train for snow clearing, plans to start using in January 2022

At the JR Asahikawa Operation Center on December 6, JR Hokkaido revealed the new snow clearing wedge plow train “KiYa 291” to the press. Currently, JR Hokkaido clears snow in Hokkaido with 12 wedge plow trains inherited from the now defunct government-run Japanese National Railways. However, due to train aging, JR Hokkaido has purchased its first new wedge plow train since the break up and privatization of rail services in 1987. The train is slated to operate between Asahikawa and Shirataki on the Sekihoku Line from January 2022 onward.

The new train is 22.1 meters long and weighs approximately 60 tons. The front and back are permanently fitted with snow clearing equipment. The snow clearing capability is almost the same as the already existing “DE 15”, which can clear 130,000 cubic meters in one hour. However, the new operation room is equipped with a monitor that displays the required work details for each zone from satellite navigation system (GPS) information. The work process has been made easy even for less experienced operators. The cost to introduce this first train to the line was approximately 570 million yen.

Regarding the trains currently being used, 41 to 49 years has passed since they were originally manufactured. The structures are experiencing corrosion, and obtaining parts is difficult due to production discontinuance, etc. JR wants to successively replace them with new trains, but the high cost of introducing them to the line is a hurdle, and they currently do not know when total replacement will be completed.

New wedge plow train "KiYa 291" revealed at the JR Asahikawa Operation Center


JR Asahikawa Sta. and Shirataki Sta.