Kure-sen 呉線

The shipyard at Aki Saizaki, seen from the east. (2017) .

The Kure-sen follows the coastline of the Inland Sea from Hiroshima eastwards. The Bay of Hiroshima, as well as the coastline to the east, is spotted with myriads of smaller and larger islands, which, together with the many small bays along the coast, also offer ideal locations for industries that require closeness to the sea. Thus we find an abundant number of shipyards which produce small and medium size vessels. Before the war, there were a large number of military facilities and associated industrial plants particularly in the Bay of Hiroshima and south thereof, in the Bay of Ondo no Seto, dominated by the town of Kure.

The railway reached Kure from Hiroshima as early as 1903 (26, 4 km). However, the continuation from Kure up the coast to Hiro and finally to Mihara was not completed until 1930-1935. The completion of the Kure-sen provided an alternative route to the main line (the San'yô Honsen), which on its way eastward needs to cross the plateau of Saijô by means of steep inclines. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Kure-sen – although single track – used to see major express and sleeping car trains. After the opening of the San'yô Shinkansen from Okayama westward in 1975, however, the Kure-sen turned into a quiet local line; it had been electrified in 1970 (DC 1500 V) and lost its freight traffic in 1986 (freight trains now all take the San'yô Honsen).

The Kure-sen today operates in two sections. The western section, first over the San'yô Honsen from Hiroshima to Kaita-ichi (6, 4 km) and from there via Kure to Hiro (26, 8 km) forms part of the suburban city network of Hiroshima and sees several stopping and semi-fast trains per hour. The eastern section (60, 2 km) from Hiro along the Inland Sea up to Mihara, where the line rejoins the San'yô Honsen, is a typical local line with one stopping train per hour and mostly worked by a two-car electric set. On specific days there is a through tourist train "Setonai Marine View" between Hiroshima and Mihara.

#The line was severely damaged through flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rain July 5/6, 2018. The section Mihara - Hiro (60, 2 km) cannot be reopened until 2019, through operation of trains between Hiro and Kaita-ichi (26, 8 km) will resume between August and November 2018.  Fully reopened December 15, 2018, normal weekday services resumed March 16, 2019. #

After leaving Mihara endstop the train runs shortly south along Mihara Bay, giving a good view of the town of Mihara. (2010)

Two-car electric set class 105 no.18 (KUMOHA 105-18 + KUHA 104-18) on its way to Mihara at Sunami, near the eastern end of the line before entering Mihara Bay. (2017)

From the train at Sunami, with a ferry in the distance crossing over to the islands between Onomichi and Imabari on Shikoku. (2017)

In a class 103 regional train between Sunami and Aki Saizaki. (1993)

In a class 105 regional train between Sunami and Aki Saizaki. (2017)

The Inland Sea - from the train near Aki Saizaki. (2010)

Train set class 105 no.11 at Aki Saizaki, with the huge shipbuilding yards in the background. (2017)

After leaving Aki Saizaki westward towards Tadanoumi. (2017)

Between Aki Saizaki and Tadanoumi, along the Inland Sea. (2017)

The Inland Sea (Setonaikai) between Aki Saizaki and Tadanoumi. (2017)

Leaving Tadanoumi for Aki Saizaki. The train is class 105 no. 20. (2017)

From a train heading towards Aki Saizaki and Mihara - looking back at Tadanoumi. (2017)

The station board at Takehara. (2017)

Trains crossing at Yoshina, one stop after Takehara on the way to Hiro. The train crossing is two-car set class 105 no.17. (2017)

Running through the mountains west of Yoshina. (2010)

Between Yoshina and Aki Tsu. (2017)

The Setonai Marine View tourist express at Kazahaya, formed by two specially refurbished diesel cars (KIHA 47 7001 and 7002). (2010)

The Inland Sea seen from the train near Yasuura. (2017)

Between Kazahaya and Yasuura. (2017)

View of the Inland Sea between Kazahaya and Yasuura. (2017)

Shipbuilding seen from the train at Aki Kawajiri. (2017)

Train set class 105 no.20 (KUHA 104-20 + KUMOHA 105-20) passing the shrines just east of Ato. (2017)

Train set class 105 no.20 (with KUMOHA 105-20 leading + KUHA 104-20) has left Nigata (one stop after Hiro on the way east to Mihara) and comes out into the bay, from where the bridge to the Kamagarijima Islands can be seen. (2017)

Hiro station. In front a two-car train, formed of class 105 4-door type cars KUHA 105-10 and KUMOHA 105-525 (originally used on suburban and underground services in the Tokyo region); behind a 4-car set class 111/113 from Hiroshima. (2010)

Hiro station, with two train sets working the Hiroshima to Hiro section of the Kure-sen. The trains are the older set class 115 (KUHA 115-2110 + MOHA 115-2009 + MOHA 114-2009 + KUHA115-2006) (now painted yellow) and the new set class 227 no.40. (2017)

The industrial town of Kure seen from the train at Kawaraishi. (2010)

Class 111 end car (no. KUHA 111-2142) waiting at Karugahama on its way from Hiro to Hiroshima. (2010)

A train from Hiroshima to Kure, headed by KUHA 111-2120, enters Karugahama station. (2010)

Between Karugahama and Tennô, looking out onto the islands in the Ondo no Seto Bay south of Hiroshima. The train is class 111/113, composed of KUHA 111-2016 + MOHA 112-325 + MOHA 113-325 + KUHA 111-2142. (2010)

From the train near Kure Portopia, about 18 km from Hiroshima terminal. (2010)

Looking out onto the line to the south along Ondo no Seto Bay, not far from Saka (around 5 km from Kaitaichi, where the Kure-sen branches off the San'yô Honsen). (2010)