KiHa 40 train journey along the Nemuro Line between Furano and Ikutora

On July 2, a special train and bus tour of a section of the Nemuro Line – which JR Hokkaido is seeking to abolish or convert to a bus service – was held for the first time. Participants boarded the train, with its nostalgic color scheme of vermilion and cream, and enjoyed the rural scenery and cuisine along the line.

 The event was organized by a local citizens’ group, and included a round-trip train ride from Furano Station to Ikutora Station on the Furano-Shintoku section of the route that JR plans to abolish. Buses were used to travel between Higashi-Shikagoe and Ikutora, as the line has been closed since the torrential rains in the summer of 2016.

 Approximately 80 people in total boarded the two-car train, and Furano Station and other areas along the line were crowded with railway enthusiasts who came to take photos.

 At Higashi-Shikagoe Station, tin badges and other limited-edition goods were sold, and at Yamabe Station in the city of Furano, melon – a specialty of the region – was served. A bus driver visiting from Aichi Prefecture seemed to enjoy the 6-hour trip, saying, “I have been familiar with this train since my childhood, so it was really nostalgic.”

Passengers taking photos of the vermilion- and cream-colored KiHa 40 train at Higashi-Shikagoe Station