Subscribe via RSS

Abashiri, Hokkaido – April, 2023

After failing to find freight in Engaru and checking out station ruins in Yubetsu, I proceeded through Kitami to Abashiri. There are quite a few limited express trains between Engaru and Kitami, but I chose an old rattler. It didn't disappoint!

The other good thing was that the local service had to wait for all other express services to pass.

At Kitami I saw the 'on-road' freight terminal, with no freight trains... as expected.

But the station area was very well looked after.

Instead I used the local bus to check out the local Hard Off. It didn't disappoint, finding a cheaply-priced random set of Marklin Z-Scale Coca-Cola Liveried DB passenger cars.

I even then had enough time to catch the bus back and the Taisetsu to Abashiri. Look at the engineer, happily standing in the vestibule looking out the front window. We used to be able to do that!

Before-long I was in the town of a very famous jail, but I didn't visit it. Instead I just saw a train, locked up.

Abashiri is the end of the line for the express trains and therefore has quite a nice yard with sheds to keep the diesel engines warm in the winter months. Actually, the summer months too as there was still remnants of snow on the ground.

From the north side of the station, you can walk into (and through) the carpark to get to a pedestrian level crossing which has a great viewpoint in both directions along the rail.

One can only assume that there's been a few incidents at the crossing.

Don't be one of them.

Katsuradai Station

From Abashiri, There's a local service around the eastern coast and through the mountains to Kushiro. I had enough time to spare, so I wandered from Abashiri Station to Katsuradai Station, the next along the line to the east.

Along the walk you can see where they've 'recently' elevated the line to get rid of a few level crossings. There's also random interesting junk lying around...

Before long, I was at Katsuradai Station, waiting for a service to come through.

There's a bridge just to the north of the station which provides a great viewpoint in both directions.

And more random junk...

And then it pissed down... right when the southbound train was due. Through the rain, whilst hiding under the nearest tree, I could hear 'urgent'-sounding announcenments from the station speaker. Once the rain stopped, I walked back to the station to listen more-clearly.

I couldn't understand it all, but it didn't sound good... so I checked the website.

Oh right, it got progressively worse as I kept refreshing the page...

All services cancelled! I needed to take this line the next day!

I walked back along the line, but then continued into town. There's a beautiful bus depot in the middle with a vintage shell petrol station embedded.

The rest of the day was spent dawdling around the yard watching trains come and go... and being scared of the weather.

I asked at the station if the line to Kushiro would re-open the next morning and was told that it would. Everything would be fixed overnight.

Shiretoko-Shari Station

I got up early enough to have a plan-B... but the plan wasn't sound. I could either take the Taisetsu/Ohotsk back to Asahikawa and then Sapporo, or attempt my circumnavigation of the rails and try and go clockwise on the local service via Kushiro. The issue was that the anti-clockwise express left first, so if I chose not to ride it AND the local to Kushiro failed, I would then be totally stuck.

I checked the JR Hokkaido site when I got up and gambled on the Kushiro service. I could see that the local to Kushiro was waiting, humming nicely, on the platform.

I watched them kick-over and extract the express from the shed. It has to traverse the previously-mentioned level crossing a few times, so it's great to view in the morning sun.

Watching the other stock kick-over was also a delight. Before-long my only hope had left for Asahikawa... And other diesels were brought in for other services.

I was left to ride my jellyfish/potato-express.

Pretty hilarious, as this is the DMU I wanted a photo of the night before. Anyway, we were on our way and the scenery was fantastic.

Before-long, we were at Shiretoko-Shari Station. The opposing train came in (single-line-working ahead), but I saw that the station master had donned his hi-viz and was discussing problems with our driver.

The northbound service left us in its dust and we were left on the phone to JR Hokkaido asking them to fix the signals. The station master did a great job communicating this to the 6 passengers on the train. 4 Foreigners and an ederly Japanese couple. The latter had to get to a hospital in Kushiro and the rest had to get through to Sapporo.

I checked the website whilst the station master was still trying to work out if we could proceed and found out that JR Hokkaido had already put a stop to that... that first 06:41 line was my train!

Around 20 minutes later, a local taxi driver had been summoned and we were bolting down the highway. Sometimes it was 120km/h in a 50-zone... other times it was 40-in-40 when it was obvious that speeding wasn't warranted.

We followed the line for a while, but then veered further west, taking a path off the highway to Kushiro.

And then... finally some freight!

And then... the cost. Thanks JR Hokkaido!

We actually made it to Kushiro faster than if we'd travelled by train, but not totally unsurprising. Last time I was here, I'd wanted to visit the model railway store in front of the station, so I did just that.

I giggled in excitement when I saw the prices in that last display cabinet... but the shop owner was watching and quickly told me that was the museum case and everything was display-only. The prices were as-they-were back in the 70/80s. Oh well.

I went to get the same curry I did last time in the station building, but that shop had closed for good.

Instead I found something similar a few shops down the corridor. Finally, it was a waiting game for the express to Minami-Chitose.

Much cleaner than the last Ozora in 2019... and again no access to the front window.

After that it was a quick trip to Minami-Chitose and then the airport.

Whilst transferring, I quickly checked out the outlet malls... but every second shop had closed down! Bloody covid.

Filed under: JPN Leave a comment
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.

Leave a comment


No trackbacks yet.