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bikkuri bahn posted a topic in Japan Rail: News & General DiscussionThe magazine "Travel and Railways" is conducting an online survey of railfan favorite/most popular private/third sector railways. The voting began on March 22 and will last until April 20. Final results will be published in the July issue of the magazine, on the newsracks May 20. As of April 15 JST, the most popular railway is Keikyu, with Hankyu coming in second and Kintetsu third. https://www.tetsudo.com/special/tabitetsu/
Railfan Magazine News has an article about the third sector company that will take over JR Hokkaido's Esashi Line (the portion that JRH themselves didn't shut down, anyway). The English name will be South Hokkaido Railway Company, and the line will be renamed the Isaribi Line. The company's Japanese name will be Dōnan Isaribi Tetsudō. According to the Wikipedia article, they'll run 9 KIHA40s. I think all will be transferred from JRH, but only 2 will get the livery and interior treatment shown in the links below. They'll be nicknamed Nagamare. The livery is a very dark blue or violet color, like the night sky, and there's an outline of Mt. Hakodate's silhouette and the stars of the night sky. Below the silhouette there are yellow and orange dots representing town lights of southern Hokkaido as well as gyoka, lights used to lure fish during nighttime fishing. The interior will feature refurbished seats with headrests, and ekiben tables will be added made of south Hokkaido cedar. These cars will run on both chartered and regularly scheduled services. Tetsudo News: http://railf.jp/news/2016/02/05/140000.html English Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Hokkaido_Railway_Company Company homepage in Japanese: http://www.shr-isaribi.jp/ Company page with same rendering of exterior as well as an interior rendering: http://www.shr-isaribi.jp/info/622/