The Minami-Aso Railway was formed in 1985 to take over operations of the Takamori Line from JNR. The line was a steep, 17.7Km long non-electrified line branching off the Hohi Main Line at Tateno Station and ending at Takamori Station (where the line takes it’s name from).
There were plan to eventually connect the Takamori Line to the Takachiho Line, whose terminus was 23Km away, with the final goal to establish a direct “coast-to-coast” connection between Kumamoto and Nobeoka and Hyuga. Work on the link between the two lines started in 1972, as soon as the Takachiho line’s extension to Takachiho was opened, but in 1975, a flood in the under-construction 6.5Km-long Takamori tunnel dealt a serious blow to the works.
Over the next five years, the line’s construction continued very slowly, and was eventually abandoned in 1980, with the promulgation of the JNR reconstruction act, wich barred the financially-precarious National Railways to build lines deemed “unnecessary”, such as new rural lines.
The Minami-Aso railway took over from JNR on the 1st of April 1986, one of the first lines of JNR to be handed over to a newly-formed third-sector railway.
In 2016, the Kumamoto Earthquake severely damaged the line, with the lower part of it (between Tateno and Nakamatsu) being still out of service, awaiting repairs, as of 2020.
Currently the Takamori Line operates only between Nakamatsu and Takamori (7.5Km). As there are no passing loops on the section, only one train runs at a time, running as a shuttle between the two terminuses.
Actually, when the Takamori Line was fully operating, only a maximium of two trains could be operated on the line at the same time, as it’s only passing loop is located at Nakamatsu station.
Currently, the railway owns five diesel railcars and two DB16 two-axle shunting tractors, top-and-tailing three “Torokko” open passenger wagons – the “Yusuge” sightseeing train.
Diesel Multiple Units