Asatō Line

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Asa Seaside Railway Asato Line
Asa-kaigan-railway DMV.jpg
Dual-mode vehicles operated on the Asato Line since 2021, based on Toyota Coaster
Overview
Other name(s)Awa-Muroto Seaside Line
Native name阿佐海岸鉄道阿佐東線
StatusOperational
OwnerAsa Seaside Railway Company
LocaleTokushima Prefecture and Kochi Prefecture
TerminiAwa-Kainan
Kannoura
Stations4
Service
TypeRegional rail
Operator(s)Asa Seaside Railway Company
History
Opened26 March 1992
Technical
Line length10.0 km (6.2 mi)
Number of tracksEntire line single tracked
CharacterRural
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
ElectrificationNone
Operating speed85 km/h (54 mph)

The Asatō Line (阿佐東線, Asatō-sen, "Asa East Line") is a Japanese railway line connecting Kaifu Station, Kaiyō and Kannoura Station, Tōyō. Together with JR Shikoku's Mugi Line, it has the official nickname Awa Muroto Seaside Line (阿波室戸シーサイドライン, Awa Muroto Shīsaido Rain). This is the only railway line operated by Asa Kaigan Railway (阿佐海岸鉄道, Asa Kaigan Tetsudō, "Asa Coastal Railway"). The company's name is abbreviated to the portmandeau Asatetsu (阿佐鉄). Since the line goes through a relatively sparsely populated area, it is under severe business stress, to the point where closure of the line has been proposed.

The railway company commenced operating road–rail vehicles, known as DMV (dual-mode vehicle) in Japan, on the Asato Line from 25 December 2021. The vehicles, 3 heavily-modified Toyota Coasters, are claimed to be the first in the world, will allow through service to areas without rail track laid. In preparation, the rail line was disconnected from the Mugi Line since summer 2019.

History[edit]

Japanese National Railways started the construction of the eastern section of the Asa Line in 1959, proposed to reach Muroto, where it would connect with the planned extension of the western section of the Asa line from Kochi.

The first 12 km section to Kaifu opened in 1973, and further construction was undertaken until work was suspended in 1980. In 1988 construction work south of Kaifu was re-started by the Asa Kaigan Railway, the newly founded third-sector company. The Kaifu - Kannoura section, now called the Asatō Line, opened in 1992.

The western portion of the planned Asa Line opened as the Tosa Kuroshio Railway Asa Line to Nahari in 2002. The Kannoura - Nahari section of the proposed Asa line has not been constructed. The proposed stations were None, Muroto, Kiragawa and Tosa-Hane.

Awa-Kainan Station has been transferred to Asa Seaside Railway since 1 November 2020 for the purpose of constructing the required changeover facilities for the DMV. The railway line was suspended from 1 December 2020 with bustitution services running until the completion of the DMV facilities on 25 December 2021.

DMV[edit]

Mode change of a "dual-mode vehicle" at Awa Kainan Station.

The development of DMV started in 2011 as an alternative to traditional, more expensive, DMU trains for rail lines with limited passengers. In February 2016, Tokushima Prefecture announced its intentions of introducing DMV in commercial operations in the next 10 years.

On 10 January 2019, in preparation for the construction of DMV changeover facilities, the parking area and bus terminal near Kannoura Station was relocated 50 m south.[1] On 1 December 2020, bustitution services operated by JR Shikoku Bus commenced between Mugi Station and Kannoura Station[2][3] while the facilities were being constructed. On 1 February 2021, bustitution services was revised to operate from Mugi Station to Awa-Kainan Station. On 4 November 2021, the Railway Bureau of the MLIT announced the completion of safety inspections and tests of the DMV conducted on the Asato Line. As such, on 10 November 2021, Asa Seaside Railway announced the planned introduction of DMV services starting from 25 December 2021. On 25 December 2021, DMV services commenced operating between Awa-Kainan Station and Kannoura Station.[4][5] Weekday services run from Awa-Kainan Station to Kannoura Station before turning around and traveling down to Shishikui Onsen Roadside Station. The journey is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) long and takes around 35 minutes to complete. On weekends, services instead run toward Cape Muroto along the Asato Line and bus routes. The journey is 50 kilometres (31 mi) long and takes around 2 hours to complete.

Basic data[edit]

  • Distance: 10.0 km / 6.2 mi.
  • Gauge: 1,067 mm / 3 ft. 6 in.
  • Stations: 4
  • Double-track line: None
  • Electric supply: Not electrified
  • Railway signalling: Simplified automatic

Stations[edit]

No. Name Distance (km) Connections Location
M27 Awa-Kainan 阿波海南 0.0 Shikoku Railway Company: Mugi Line (M27) Mugi, Kaifu District,
Tokushima Prefecture
AK28 Kaifu 海部 1.5 Kaiyō, Kaifu District,
Tokushima Prefecture
AK29 Shishikui 宍喰 7.6  
AK30 Kannoura 甲浦 10.0   Tōyō, Aki District,
Kōchi Prefecture

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Relocation of parking area and bus terminal
  2. ^ "阿佐東線、DMV対応工事で12月から全線運休 バス代行輸送". レイルラボ(RailLab) (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  3. ^ "時刻表" (in Japanese). 阿佐海岸鉄道. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  4. ^ "Japan to get world's 1st operational bus-train dual-mode vehicle". Kyodo News. 13 November 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  5. ^ "令和3年12月25日(土)DMVでの本格営業運行を開始いたします" [Commencing of DMV operations on Saturday 25 December 2021]. Asa Seaside Railway Company (in Japanese). 10 November 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021.

External links[edit]