Fukuen-sen 福塩線

Diesel car KIHA 120 323 at Jôge. (2013)

Fuchû station, with electric two-car train KUMOHA 105-1 + KUHA 104-1 to Fukuyama, and (on the left) diesel car KIHA 120 17, which has come down from Miyoshi. (2017)

The Fuku'en-sen is electric (DC 1500 V) Fukuyama – Fuchû (23, 6 km), diesel Fuchû – Shiomachi (54, 4 km). Trains continue from Shiomachi over the Geibi-sen to Miyoshi (7, 1 km).

Function of the line: As far as the small town of Fuchû trains serve the outskirts of Fukuyama and the small communities that lie beyond. Up to Kannabe (8, 4 km) the Fuku'en-sen is also used daily by a few trains of the Ibara Tetsudô, which since 1999 branch off there towards Ibara, Yakage, and Kiyone and Sôja on the Hakubi-sen. To Fuchû frequent local services are provided.

From Fuchû to Miyoshi the Fuku'en-sen becomes a mountain line as it climbs up steeply into the central highlands of West Japan. Since 1989, in order to bypass Hattabara Dam, trains travel over a new section of line which passes through the long Hattabara Tunnel (6123 m). Today, only few services are provided over the Fuchû – Shiomachi section, two to three trains in the early morning, one in the early afternoon, and two in the evening, with one additional seasonal working during the day.

Notes on the history of the line: 1914: Light railway (762 mm gauge) from Fukuyama to Fuchû (electrified in 1927). 1933 taken over by the state, re-gauged (1067 mm) in 1935. Completion of the line through from Fukuyama to Shiomachi 1933 – 1938. 1961 Fukuyama – Fuchû electric. 1986 end of freight workings. 1999 connection with the new Ibara Tetsudô. July 5/6, 2018, total closure after destruction by torrential rain and landslides. July 21, 2018, gradually reopened Fukuyama - Fuchû. (Miyoshi –) Shiomachi – Jôge on the upper section should reopen in October 2018. Fuchû – Jôge (26, 7 km) remain closed for the time being.

The name of the line derives from the two endpoints, Fukuyama (福山)and Shiomachi(塩町)、the first characters of these place names together (福塩) are read "Fuku'en".

Two Fuku'en-sen electric sets (set 105-1 + 105-2) at Fukuyama. (2017)

Fukuyama station. Ibara Tetsudô diesel car 355-08, which has come over the Fuku'en-sen from Kannabe. (2013)

From the train at Yokoo on a misty morning, between Fukuyama and Kannabe. (2017)

At Yudamura on the electric section north of Kannabe. (2017)

Climbing up the valley towards Hattabara Tunnel, above Shimo Kawabe. (2013)

Climbing up the valley towards Hattabara Tunnel. (2013)

From the train at Kawasa, near the lower entrance of Hattabara Tunnel. (2013)

Near Jôge. (2013)

Old farm houses along the line between Bingo Yasuda and Kajita, north of Jôge. (2017)

Speeds on the line are extremely low, and at some places must be reduced to 15 km/h in rainy weather. Below Bingo Yasuda, climbing up towards Shiomachi. (2013)

A Buddhist temple between Mirasaka and Kisa, south of Shiomachi. (2017)

Taken from KIHA 120 no.17 at Shiomachi junction. The line to the right is the Fuku'en-sen down to Fuchû and Fukuyama, to the left is the Geibi-sen to Bingo Saijô and Bingo Ochiai. (2017)

Diesel car class 120 no.17 preparing for the run down to Fuchû at Miyoshi. On the left is class 120 no.326. (2017)