The Hokuriku Railway (sometimes also known as the “Hokuriku Railroad” or with the shortened name of “Hokutetsu”) was formed on the 13th of October 1943 as a government-mandated merger of all railway companies operating in Ishikawa Prefecture, with the only exception of the Ogoya Railway, wich was a mine railway.
Upon it’s formation, Hokuriku Railway inherited a grand total of sixteen lines scattered around the prefecture, with the vast majority of them being not even phisically connected.
After the war, with declining ridership, an incoherent network with dilapdated infrastructure and rolling stock, several labor issues and the competition of bus services operated by Kintetsu, the Hokuriku Railway began closing down many of it’s lines, in an attempt to save it’s finances, culminating in 1968, when the railway announced that it would close all of it’s remaining railway lines.
Due to the strong opposition from residents along the railway, the Asanogawa, Ishikawa, Noumi and Kinna lines were spared from closure (the latter two eventually closed a few years later anyway).
In an attempt to save the company, the Ministry of Transportation put the Hokuriku Railway under the “protective wing” of Meitetsu, wich was tasked with helping the railway.
The financial situation gradually improved starting from the late 1980s, when the Hokuriku Railway established it’s subsidiary bus company, Hokuriku Bus Co., wich gradually overshadowed railway operations.
As of today, Hokuriku Railway’s main businnes is bus transport, but the company still retains a 20,6Km-long network made up of the two surviving lines it had inherited in 1943: the 6.8Km-long Asanogawa Line, electrified at 1500V DC, and the 13.8Km-long Ishikawa Line, electrified at 600V DC. In true Hokutetsu fashion, both lines are phisically separated from each other.