The Towada Railway was opened in 1922 as a 14Km-long, 762mm gauge line connecting Misawa to Towada, in eastern Aoimori prefecture. In 1951 the line was regauged to 1067mm, electrified at 1500v and renamed as the “Towada Kanko Electric Railway”.
In the 1970s, the Towada Kanko Railway was one of the few non-endangered rural railways, as it maintained quite a good rideship, thanks also to the presence of the JASDF and USAF Misawa air base, wich was in full operation during the cold war. As such, the Towada Kanko Electric railway could afford to upgrade it’s signalling (a modern automated-block system replaced the old token one in 1971) and rebuild it’s Towadashi terminus in 1985. The last upgrade on the line was made in 2002, when the line was equipped with an ATS system, mandated by the Ministry of Transport after a string of accidents on similar rural railways; but by then, ridership was falling.
The line managed to carry on until the early 2010s, but as the areas it served were severely de-populating, the line closed in 2012.
Towada Kanko Railway still operates services between Misawa and Towada, but with busses instead. Even tough it hasn’t operated any railway service in almost 10 years, the company is still retaining the “railway” part of it’s name.
Due to it’s quiet route and similarity to the long-defunct American “Interurbans”, during the 1970s and 1980s, the Towada Kanko Electric Railway was a favourite of American Railfans/USAF Servicemen stationed at the Misawa Air Base.
Electric Multiple Units
Icons made by Curoka