Kakogawa-sen 加古川線

Ao station. On the right Kakogawa-sen two-car train 103-3553, on the left a Kôbe Electric Railway (Kôbe Dentetsu) train (no. 1357). The Kôbe Dentetsu train has come over the Ao line, which might close in the near future. (2014)

Not very far from the great population centres of Ôsaka and Kôbe at the edge of the huge Takasago industrial seaside complex in Kakogawa we find the terminus of the Kakogawa-sen, which runs up from here into the mountains along the Kakogawa river. The single-track Kakogawa-sen itself is 48, 5 km long; it was electrified (DC 1500 V) in December 2004. On its way up the valley the railway runs through the suburbs of Kakogawa and then past the localities of Yakujin and Ao to the town of Nishiwaki (Nishiwaki-shi station), 31, 2 km from Kakogawa. Most trains coming from Kakogawa end here, and a single-unit electric motor coach takes passenger on through the lonely rural countryside as far as Tanikawa, a little town dominated by the Hyôgo Pulp Co.'s factory. At Tanikawa the Kakogawa-sen meets the Fukuchiyama-sen, coming up from Ôsaka and going on to Fukuchiyama and beyond.

Just north of Nishiwaki-shi the train makes a short stop at Nihon Heso Kôen (The Park at the Navel of Japan), located exactly at the crossing of the 135° East Longitude and the 35° North Latitude.

Originally the Kakogawa-sen was part of a private railway network and was linked to the Takasago port line (Takasago-sen, 8 km) in the industrial area, and to the branch lines from Yakujin to Miki (6, 6 km), from Ao to Hôjô (13, 6 km), and from Nishiwaki to Kajiya (13, 2 km). The Takasago-sen closed in 1984, the line to Miki became a third-sector railway in 1985 and finally closed in 2008, the Kajiya-sen closed in 1990, and the Ao to Hôjô line became a third-sector railway in 1985 and still operates as such today. Freight services ended in 1986.

The Kakogawa-sen - part of the national railway network since 1943 - has had to face the problem that is was originally conceived to replace river transport and not really to serve the communities. For that reason its stations are often at a distance from the towns and villages, and since public transport in the region is more oriented towards the big cities of Kôbe and Ôsaka people tend to use mainly the highway bus services in that direction. Incidentally, the same it true of the Kôbe Electric Railway line to Ao, which might easily close down in the near future.

Today, Kakogawa-sen services stop at all stations and consist of relatively frequent trains from Kakogawa to Yakujin, and a hourly service to Nishiwaki-shi, provided mainly by the 8 two-car electric sets of class 103-3550 which were transformed out of elder suburban trains in the Ôsaka area. The terminus of the line at Tanikawa is reached basically by 3 trains in the morning and evening, and 3 during the day. These consist of new single-unit motor coaches of class 125, built in 2004.

Motor coach KUMOHA 125-10 at the Tanikawa terminal, adjoining the Fukuchiyama-sen. (2010)

From the train at Hon Kuroda not far from the upper terminal of the line. (2010)

Motor coach KUMOHA 125-10 in the mirror at Kurodashô, between Tanikawa and Nishiwaki-shi. (2010)

Nishiwaki-shi - Single unit KUMOHA 125-10 has come down from Tanikawa, while two-car set 103-3551 in an interesting design will continue to Kakogawa. (2010)

From the train near Aonogahara, between Nishiwaki-shi and Ao. (2010)

From the train just outside Kakogawa. (2014)