The Nishikigawa Railway inherited the 32.7Km long Gannichi Line from JNR on the 25th of July 1987. The line had been opened in 1960 from Iwakuni (where it branched off the San’yo Main Line) to Kawayama, and was extended to Nishikicho three years later in 1963. The Gannichi Line was planned to link to the Yamaguchi Line at Nichihara, with construction starting in 1967, but was stopped and abandoned in 1980, at about 50% of the work done, due to the passing of the “JNR Reconstruction Act” in the Japanese Diet, wich forced the National Railways to abandon the construction of most of their under-construction rural lines.
The truncated and uncomplete Gannichi Line was handed over to the the Nishikigawa Railway on the 25th of July 1987 (the company had been previously formed on the 1st of April 1987, the day of JNR’s privatization), becoming the Nishikigawa Seiryu Line (“Nishiki River Limpid Stream Line”).
Services on the newly-handed-over line were operated by a small fleet of five NT-2000 Series diesel rail cars for regular services and one NT-2100 Series unit for “special services”, all manufactured by Niigata Transys and part of the latter’s “NDC” family. Between 2007 and 2009, these were replaced by the new NT-3000 Series (itself too manufactured by Niigata Transys).
As of today, the Nishikigawa Railway operates a fleet of four NT-3000s and a single KiHa 40 unit (n°1009), a former Karasuyama Line unit bought second-hand from JR East. The unit is intended for use as “retro-styled” tourist train.
The Nishikigawa Seiryu Line currently operates 10 roundtrips per day on an uneven schedules: between two trains there can be even a 3-hour gap!
Seiryu-Mirahashi Station on the Nishikigawa-Seiryu Line, opened on the 19th of March 2019, is Japan’s one and only railway station without an exit: the station leads to nowhere and there is no way to exit the only platform (in fact, there are no roads, not even footpaths leading to the station). It is intended not as a “station” in a proper sense, but rather as a “wiewing spot” over the Nishiki River, therefore, only special trains stop at this station.
Diesel Multiple Units