Commonly known as “Kumaden”, the Kumamoto Electric Railway operates a small 13,1Km-long network made up of the 10,8Km-long “main” Kikuchi Line and the 2,3Km-long “branch” Fujisaki Line. Both lines are electrified at 600V DC.
Originally established in 1909 as the “Kikuchi Tramway”, the company originally operated tramway lines togheter with the Kumamoto Tramway Co. and during the war both companies were megred into the “Kumamoto City Transportation Bureau”. In 1954, both companies split again, with the Kumamoto Electric Railway gradually transitioning from tram-like operation to “heavy rail” services.
In the 1960s, Kumaden was forced to abandon much of it’s loss-making lines, due to the competition of private cars and bus transport. The situation improved starting from the late 1980s, when the Kumamoto Electric Railway embarked in a program of modernization, wich among other things, included the fitting of a train radio to all of it’s stock.
As of today, the Kumamoto Electric Railway has completely recovered from the crisis period of the 1960s, and is currently one of the most pictoresque third-sector railways in Japan.
Heritage from the days when the line was operated as a tramway, the Fujisaki Line has a unique street running section between Kami-Kumamoto and Kurokamimachi stations.