Kabe-sen 可部線

Class 227 no.80 entering Aki Nagatsuka. (2017)

Trains on the Kabe-sen in its present form start out at Hiroshima and branch off the San'yô Honsen after 6 km at Yokokawa. Here they cross the Ôtagawa River Spillway and work up the valley along the spillway and then through the valley settlements, mostly along the valley road. Towards the end of the line shortly before Kabe town the Ôtagawa River is crossed. From Yokokawa to Kabe the line is 14 km long. Since 2017 trains continue westward into the hills for a further 1, 6 km to Aki Kameyama. The Kabe-sen is electrically operated (DC 1500 V).

Services began from Hiroshima to Kabe as a 760 mm gauge railway (built 1909-1911). Between 1928 and 1930 it was electrified (Yokokawa – Kabe) and changed to 1067 mm gauge. In 1936 it was integrated into the state railway's network. Construction continued up the valley from Kabe in north-westerly direction to Nuno in 1946 (27, 5 km from Yokokawa), and to Kake in 1954 (46 km). In 1962 voltage on the electrified section was raised to 1500 V.

Here the history of the Kabe-sen is linked to that of the proposed Imafuku-sen, which takes its name from the village of Iwami Imafuku (1969-2005 Kanagi-chô, since then part of Hamada City) in the mountains behind Hamada on the Japan Sea coast. Already in the 1930s, work began on a direct railway connection between Hamada and Hiroshima, passing through Iwami Imafuku. In 1974 construction of this connection was resumed, and a totally new track bed from Hamada to Iwami Imafuku began to take shape. However, building was halted in 1980 and the nearly completed track bed together with tunnels and bridges was left to decay.

On the Hiroshima side construction continued during the 1960s, until in 1969 the scenic waterfalls of Sandankyô (60, 2 km from Yokokawa) were reached. This was to be the end of the Kabe-sen, operated by diesel cars from Kabe onwards. Freight traffic ceased in 1984.

The diesel section from Kabe to Sandankyô closed to all traffic on December 1, 2003. However, housing development in the Kabe region led to a short section of the old line, from Kabe to Aki Kameyama (1, 6 km), to be reinstated on March 4, 2017.

Services on the Kabe-sen are frequent, with 20 minute intervals during much of the day. Some trains work to and from Hiro on the Kure-sen.

A class 105 two-car set crossing alongside the Ôtagawa River Spillway at Mitaki, soon after leaving Yokokawa in Hiroshima City. The leading coach is KUMOHA 105-526. (2010)

Two class 227 sets crossing at Midorii, almost half-way up the line. On the left is 4-car set 227-8, on the right 2-car set 227-67. (2017)

A class 113 4-car set crossing at Bairin. The leading coach in KUHA 111-565. (2017)

A class 105 crossing at Bairin. The leading coach is KUMOHA 105-530. (2010)

The old terminus at Kabe, with a two car train class 105 (KUMOHA 105-526 + KUHA 105-11). (2010)

The intermediate station (Kôdo Homachigawa) on the reinstated section between Kabe and Aki Kameyama. Photograph taken out of set P-01 (coach KUHA 111-2053) (2017)

The new terminus at Aki Kameyama, with class 227 no.80. (2017)

A class 113 4-car train (KUHA 111-2053 + MOHA 112-2080 + MOHA 113-2080 + KUHA 111-2149) at the new terminus Aki Kameyama. (2017)

The old track bed of the line beyond Aki Kameyama. (2017)

Where Kabe-sen diesel trains used to climb up towards Sandankyô the rails remain in some parts. Above Aki Kameyama. (2017)