The sound of the nimble Furano Biei Norokko sightseeing train reverberates in the hills
It’s late July in the Furano basin in central Hokkaido, where the purple of the lavender fields and the green of the paddy fields are dazzling. There, JR Hokkaido’s special sightseeing train ‘Furano Biei Norokko’ passes at a leisurely pace. The sound of the nimble train, carried by the summer breeze, reverberates in the hills.
The train is a diesel locomotive linked to three observatory carriages, which operates along the Asahikawa-Furano section of the JR Furano Line. As it heads toward Furano, the locomotive pushes carriages from the rear; when it heads toward Asahikawa, it pulls them from the front.
The number of trains using such passenger carriages is decreasing nationwide. According to JR Hokkaido, the only such sightseeing trains that remain on JR lines in Hokkaido are the three seasonal services on the Furano Line and Senmo Line in eastern Hokkaido. As part of anti-Coronavirus measures, the observatory carriages operate with their windows fully open. As masks are worn and conversations kept to a minimum, the sounds the train makes as it passes over level crossings and bridges have an even greater presence that usual. As well as views of the lavender fields and hilly terrain from the windows of the train, the special feel of the ride in the precious carriages is one of the pleasures of a ride on the Norokko train.
JR Asahikawa St.- Furano St.
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