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21Jun/190

Ohmi Railway 700 Series Last Run – May 2019

For the first time, a real Last Run event happened whilst I was visiting Japan. It was a total co-incidence and I was more than happy to participate. Well, I was more than happy to ride Ohmi Tetsudou's other trains as the actual Last Run tickets were all sold out.

Last Runs are quite an event in Japan. Most residents or railfans build real attachments to railway vehicles and are very sad to see them taken out of service. This time around it was the 700 Series "あかね号" (Akane-Go) which was to run a final trip down all lines before lowering its pantograph one final time.

Getting there

As I was staying in Shin-Osaka, the first step was to jump on a JR Special Rapid from Shin-Osaka to Ohmi-Hachiman. This was a relatively quick trip and I was actually surprised that the suggestion wasn't to take a Shinkansen to Maibara and bounce back. Once at Ohmi-Hachiman, you'll be presented with your first taste of the Ohmi Railway.

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The station is external to JR; there's no transfer facility. Once you're out of the JR station, you can turn right and head down to the ticket gates of Ohmi. Here you can purchase single tickets, but they also have a 'Smile Ticket' which provides 1-day unlimited travel... exactly what we needed!

Once on-board, it was a spirited run through to Yokaichi. (Not to be confused with Yokkaichi!) Being a private railway, you wont often find welded rail, so the ride was endearing. The sound of the wheels hitting the joints in the rail at quite a high speed was fantastic, especially with an older vehicle that isn't quite sound-proof. Of course, it's also recommended to sit down, or hold on, as the joints often offer quite a jolt.

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The railway crosses under the Tokaido Shinkansen between Yokaichi and Ohmi-Hachiman and I often actually wondered which railway this was when viewing from the Hikari between Kyoto and Maibara. I was really hoping to catch a glimpse of a Shikansen passing from the Ohmi Train, but no such luck in either direction.

Yokaichi Station

This was where the action started to increase. There was signage everywhere and a lot of interest in anything that moved. The station offers a pedestrian overbridge with windows that can be opened. These were already packed with people holding onto their vantage points. There was also a colourful selection of rolling stock hanging around the station. There's a central road to store consists when not in use.

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You'll note the netting above. They used it to prevent a build-up of humans at the bottom of the stairs which would then block the overpass. Of course, it prevented nice angles, but safety always comes first!

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A film crew started setting up down the end, as the Last-Run was actually about 20 minutes from approaching this station. We chose not to hang around for that and to take that pink EMU west to get a scenic country shot. The target was Daigakuen-Mae station.

Daigakuen-Mae

This is a tiny single-platform station which provides access to the local university.

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We quickly wandered to the eastern side of the university to check the view...

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It wasn't bad. We had also followed a few people through to this location and they then continue further in amongst the rice paddies... but I had a better idea... a spot to the west of the university that I'd discovered on Google Maps previously...

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Seems, even here, that others thought it was a good spot too. There was also a farmer ploughing a rice paddy.. a nice touch and nice sounds as I'd only ever seen such a practice from a train window.

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In no time the level crossing activated just after the station and the consist came through.

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It dawdled through the scene as it was a tourist service and no on the regular schedule. Regardless, it was good to see it running this leg of the company railway for the last time!

Make sure you switch the quality up to 720p60... it was the first time testing with a friends GoPro and didn't realise it would have such a wide field-of-view!

Back to Yokkaichi

A quick wander back to the platform got us onto the next east-bound service. This time a blue EMU. I only needed to ride one cream and one green to cover all liveries!

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From Yokaichi station, we walked into the local Shoutengai to see the 'market' that had been set up with memorabilia of the railway and 700-series.

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Unfortunately it was all already gone and there was really only a queue to buy tickets for the next let of the Last-Run tour. I didn't really want to ride the consist, so we just had a quick lunch and continued on.

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Back at the station there was anticipation for the 700-series to return from the west. A lot more people were hanging out to see it. The news crew was also in-position...

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Meanwhile, the Oi Ocha sponsored dark-green livery was in full-view.

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We wanted to take the next service back to Ohmi-Hachiman and so waited on the platform where the 700-series was to arrive.

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There was a little mayhem as everyone got the right angles for their photos and then we were off, in front of the 700-series, northbound. The next photo location was to be at Ichinobe Station... and it provided a fantastic scene.

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The graveyard was sort-of ironic... being that the fate of the 700-series was already decided. A southbound service passed through before the 700-series arrived.

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Loitering was then carried-out at the station, waiting for the next timetabled northbound service.

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Once on-board, we passed the 700-series on its last southbound run from Ohmi-Hachiman...

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Good Bye 700!

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