JR Freight, also known with it’s official name of “Japan Freight Railway Company” or by the Japanese “Jeiāru Kamotsu” (JR貨物), operates the entirety of former JNR nationwide freight services. Togheter with JR Shikoku and JR Hokkaido, it’s one of the last three JR Group companies entirely owned by the Japanese government via the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT).
Originally evisioned during the planning of the JNR privatization as a money-losing venture intended to hold on to a somewheat decaying industry (only about 5% of freight is carried by rail in Japan), JR Freight operated at a constant loss for several years, but in recent times the situation started to improve, as freight volumes started to rise due to a shortage of truck drivers and the implementation of increasingly stringent policies on carbon emissions by the Japanese Government.
JR Freight does not own any “proper” railway line, but only it’s depots, yards and some freight-only lines, a total of about 35Km. Mainline services are run on tracks owned by the six “passenger JR” comapnies and their successors, wich are tasked with the maintainance of the line, and as such charge a fee for the usage of their tracks, wich is often subsidized by the JRTT.
While carrying only 5% of the national freight traffic share (trucks carry 50% and ships carry a rater large 44% – Japan is an archipelago and the vast majority of industial areas are located by the sea), JR Freight carries over 99% of Japan’s railway freight, as it is the one and only mainline freight operator. The remaining less-than-1% is shared between numerous industrial railways, some of wich are actually JR Freight’s subsidiaries (such as the Keiyo Rinkai Railway), tasked to make the “final delivery” of freight to the industries from the nearest JR Freight yard.
JR Freight’s freight traffic is almost exclusively composed of container trains or tank trains carrying either petrolchemical products (oil, fuel…) or cement. Hoppers, flat wagons and boxcars are almost exctinct and are extremely rare to find in regular services.
As JR Freight operates a completely different service from the other JR Group companies, there is no competition and therefore, no animosity between them. Relatioships between JR Freight and the rest of the JR Group are acutally very friendly, especially with JR East. In some cases, JR East has actually leased one or more locomotives to JR Freight and vice-versa.
“Road Switchers” (heavy shunting and mainline services)
Train cons made by Curoka