Kitakami-sen (Part I) 北上線
0992 Hotto Yuda, with KIHA 100-34 and -33 coming in from Kitakami. (2013)
This diesel operated local line of 61, 1 km length forms a direct connection between the Tôhoku Honsen (running through Iwate Prefecture) and the Ôu Honsen (running through Akita Prefecture). The Kitakami-sen crosses the mountain range from Kitakami via the summit – today marked by the Yuda Dam and the extensive Lake Kinshûko – down to the town of Yokote in the highlands of Akita Prefecture. Yuda Dam and Lake Kinshûko were completed after difficult, 12 year long construction works in 1965, the railway line having been rerouted in 1962.
The Kitakami-sen has been repeatedly used for through-running express trains, partly regular trains and partly rerouted trains, particularly night trains between Tokyo and Akita. The line formed a practical alternative to the Ôu Honsen from Fukushima via Yamagata, and the Tazawako-sen from Morioka to Akita and, accordingly, saw much traffic during construction work on these lines in the course of their transformation to 1435 mm gauge (Ôu Honsen 1991-99, Tazawako-sen 1997). Regular freight services are suspended since 2010.
Kitakami-sen trains work out from the town of Kitakami (on the Tôhoku Honsen) to the west along the Wagakawa River towards the mountain range. At Wakasennin (20, 3 km from Kitakami) there used to be iron ore mining. After Wakasennin the train climbs steeply up to the mountain plateau, today marked by the beautiful Lake Kinshûko and well-known hot springs, served mainly from the station of Hotto Yuda (35, 2 km from Kitakami, 250 m high). From here the line climbs to the summit at Yuda Kôgen (272, 3 m high) and then descends and crosses into Akita Prefecture, the uppermost village being Kurosawa. Passing through farmland and grape, peach, cherry and other orchards the train reaches its final stop at Yokote on the Ôu Honsen. Yokote (64 m high) is known particularly for its winter snow festival and the snow domes (containing little altars) set up throughout the town.
Originally there was a 762 mm gauge transport line (with man or horse drawn wagons) between Kitakami and Wakasennin (worked 1907-1922). The Kitakami-sen itself was constructed 1921-1924. Today, the full line is served by 7 trains (of which 4 are accelerated trains between Yokote and Kurosawa); 2 trains work Kitami – Hotto Yuda, and 1 train in the early morning Kitami – Fujine. In addition, there are occasional other trains run on special occasions.
Yanagihara 柳原 Ezuriko 江釣子 Fujine 藤根 Tatekawame 立川目 Yokokawame 横川目
Iwasawa 岩沢 Wakasennin 和賀仙人 Yuda Kinshûko ゆだ錦秋湖 Hotto Yuda ほっとゆだ
Yuda Kôgen ゆだ高原 Kurosawa 黒沢 Komatsukawa 小松川
Hiraishi 平石 (closed 3/2022) Ainono 相野々 Yabitsu 矢美津 (closed 3/2022)