Kagoshima Honsen (Southern Section [Satsuma] Sendai-Kagoshima) 鹿児島本線(薩摩川内ー鹿児島)

The Kagoshima Honsen is presented in 3 sections:

A  Moji-kô (Moji Port) - Fukuoka (Hakata station)

B  Fukuoka (Hakata station) - Yatsushiro

C  Sendai - Kagoshima


The Kagoshima Honsen is Kyûshû's most important main line, linking the majority of its industrial and population centres. The Shinkansen high-speed line from north to south Kyûshû (south section opened in 2004, north section in 2011) mostly follows the Kagoshima Honsen closely from Fukuoka (Hakata Station) down to Kagoshima. When the Kyûshû-Shinkansen opened, the traditional Kagoshima Honsen lost its important and frequent intercity express trains south of Hakata. North of Hakata, on the other hand, the Sanyô-Shinkansen to northeast Kyûshû and on to Hiroshima, Ôsaka and Tôkyô, operated by JR West Japan and opened in 1975, goes mostly through tunnels directly to Kokura, leaving the industrial northeast coast of Kyûshû to be served by the Kagoshima Honsen.

In the north, the Kagoshima Honsen starts in the town of Moji at Moji-kô (Moji Port) station, opposite the town of Shimonoseki on the mainland. Moji-kô station is listed as cultural heritage, and it stands directly next to the Kyûshû Railway Museum, the main building of which dates from 1891 and was once the head office of Kyûshû Railways. A little over 5 km after leaving Moji-kô terminal the line is joined by the connection through the Kanmon Tunnel with trains running to and from Shimonoseki and beyond on Japan's main island Honshû.

The Kagoshima Honsen from Moji-kô through the heavily industrialised area around Kokura and Yahata and along the coast to Kyûshû's capital city, Fukuoka (Hakata Station), has seen far-reaching changes and is today 78, 2 km long. It is served by suburban trains as well as express intercity trains on through services from Hakata via Kokura to the Nippô Honsen along the east coast. Until the completion of the Kyûshû Shinkansen also intercity expresses along the west coast towards Kumamoto and Kagoshima were frequent. Apart from passenger and suburban trains heavy container trains pass over the Kagoshima Honsen too, and just northeast of Fukuoka there is a freight-only line (3, 7 km) into the port area.

South of the city of Fukuoka the Kagoshima Honsen remains essentially a suburban railway serving the densely populated areas down to Tosu and Kurume. Intercity express trains to Nagasaki use the line as far as Tosu, and panoramic diesel express trains from Hakata headed for the Kyûdai Honsen branch off at Kurume. North Kyûshû suburban services go down as far as Arao, from where the line becomes more rural and sees lighter regional traffic to the city of Kumamoto. Largely agricultural settlements form the backdrop for the continuation southward to Shin Yatsushiro and Yatsushiro; Shin Yatsushiro was the changeover station to the Shinkansen from 2004 to 2011, before the high-speed trains from Kagoshima were able to continue northwards to Hakata. The line from Hakata to Yatsushiro was built between 1889 and 1896 and is 232, 2 km in length. Freight services south of Tosu exist, but are not very frequent.

When the south section of the Kyûshû Shinkansen from Shin Yatsushiro to Kagoshima came into operation in 2004, the continuation of the Kagoshima Honsen southwards along the rural coastline and through the towns of Minamata, Izumi and Akune to Sendai was handed over to the third sector (public + private) Hisatsu Orange Railway (Hisatsu Orenji Tetsudô). The Hisatsu Orange Railway covers a distance of 116, 9 km and provides its services with diesel cars. However, the entire line remains electrified for freight trains through to Kagoshima. Yatsushiro to Sendai was opened in 1927. (So as not to confuse Sendai with Sendai in northeast Japan, Sendai in southwest Kyûshû can be referred to as Satsuma Sendai.)

The southernmost section of the Kagoshima Honsen, from Sendai through Kagoshima Central (formerly West Kagoshima) to Kagoshima (town station), a distance of 49, 3 km and opened in 1913, is worked by JR Kyûshû and crosses the mountains on its way from the west coast into Kagoshima Bay. The entire length of the Kagoshima Honsen today, including the Hisatsu Orange Railway, is 476, 6 km.

Electrification with AC 20 kV / 60 HZ from Moji-kô to Kumamoto was completed from 1961 to 1965, the rest from Kumamoto down to Kagoshima from 1968 to 1970.

Between Moji-kô and Arao (one stop after Ômuta) via Hakata, Tosu and Kurume there are frequent suburban stopping and semi-fast services. In addition, intercity express trains work over the section Hakata-Kokura (-> Nippô Honsen) and Hakata-Tosu (-> Nagasaki or Sasebo). From Arao via Kumamoto to Yatsushiro there are stopping trains on a half hour basis. On the southern section from Sendai to Kagoshima an hourly service of stopping trains is provided, with additional trains in the morning and evening.

Kagoshima Honsen - The end of the JR section at Sendai. Here passengers need to change to the Hisatsu Orenji Railway, whose diesel car no.108 is waiting behind the ticket office. The through line is only for freight trains to and from the north. (2018)

Class 817 no.9 entering Sendai from Kagoshima. (2018)

Dual current class 415/411 no. 515 at Koban Chaya, just south of Sendai. (2010)

Class 817 no.4 crosses at Higashi Ichiki, about half way between Kagoshima and Sendai. (2018)

The pass route between Sendai and Kagoshima, near Kami Ijûin. On a misty winter day the driver of a local train greets the oncoming class 817 (no.8). (2010)

North of Hiroki, not far from Kagoshima. (2010)

Class 817 no.8 waiting to leave Kagoshima Chûô for Ijûin. Above is the famous Ferris wheel of Kagoshima Chûô station. (2010)