Chikuhô Honsen  筑豊本線

The slag heaps of Iizuka with electric train class 415 (leading coach KUHA 411-123) (2013)

The slag heaps of Iizuka in 1972. Steam locomotive D51 542

Though the track of the Chikuhô Honsen is still used, it no longer exists as a through main line. Today, the line is divided into, a) the Wakamatsu-sen in the north (10, 8 km), b) the Orio – Nôgata – Keisen section (34, 5 km), which now forms part of the electric Fukuhoku Yutaka-sen, and c) the Keisen – Haruda line over Hiyamizu Pass (20, 8 km, completed in 1929). This last section has seen only very little traffic after the introduction of electric services from Keisen via Sasaguri directly to Fukuoka in 2001.

 The Chikuhô Honsen, whose construction started in 1891, served the vast Chikuhô coalfield area with its many coalmines particularly around Iizuka, Tagawa Ita, Tagawa Gotôji, Nôgata and Nakama. A very large number of branch lines, many of them with passenger services, fed into the Chikuhô Honsen, but today they are almost all closed. The history of the Chikuhô coalmines is closely linked to that of the Yahata Steel Works, whose construction started in 1896. Before World War II the Yahata Steel Works produced over 80 percent of Japan's steel, accordingly the coal consumption was enormous and coal traffic very heavy. In the 1960s the coalmines closed in quick succession, as did the numerous railway branch lines to serve them and their communities. The last mine shut down in 1976. This development naturally led to a rapid decrease in population, which in turn affected the railway services. Freight transport completely ceased in 2005.


The Chikuhô Honsen (Chikuhô Mainline) takes its name from the two old provinces of Chikuzen 筑前 (the northern part of present-day Fukuoka Prefecture with the city of Fukuoka at its centre) and Buzen 豊前 (north-east Kyûshû with the city of Kokura at its centre). The two characters 筑豊 together are read "Chikuhô".

#The section between Keisen and Haruda (20, 8 km) was severely damaged through landslides triggered by torrential rain on July 6, 2018. It is unknown when it will be reopened。#


Today the northern end of the line is served by class 813 or 817 trains of the Fukuhoku Yutaka-sen, and by battery electric trains class BEC819 from Wakamatsu to Nôgata. Here battery electric set BEC819 no.2 has just raised its pantograph at Orio; it has arrived here from Wakamatsu using battery power and now continues by means of overhead current collection. (2018)

One of the many lines to the collieries and coalmining villages was the Katsuki-sen (3, 5 km long; closed in 1985) which joined the Chikuhô Honsen at Nakama. The picture taken at Nakama shows locomotive 38629 (class 8620) bringing a train from Katsuki in August 1972.

From Chikuzen Habu station, between Orio and Nôgata. (2018)

A diesel hauled passenger train crosses a coal train, headed by steam loco D60 22. Chikuzen Habu, between Nakama and Nôgata (1972)

On the Chikuhô Honsen between Chikuzen Habu and Kurate, about half way from Orio to Nôgata. (2018)

The line at Tentô, between Iizuka and Keisen. (2018) The Chikuhô Honsen (Kurosaki -) Orio - Keisen (- Hakata) was electrified in 2001 and is now part of the Fukuhoku Yutaka-sen.

The line between Iizuka and Keisen, near Keisen. (2018)

Between Keisen and Haruda service is provided by a class 31 diesel car (no. 3). In Chikuzen Uchino (2016)

Diesel car KIHA 31 no.3 waiting at Haruda for the trip up over the pass to Keisen. (2016)

On the climb up to the summit tunnel between Haruda and Keisen. (2016)

The line from Haruda to Keisen. On the descent east of the summit tunnel, near Chikuzen Uchino. Looking out of the rear window. (2016)

The area around Keisen has seen enormous changes. Old dilapidated houses in Kami Honami west of Keisen on the line to Haruda in August 1972. Steam locomotive D60 22 passing.