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End of the Line for the Kita-Oji Freight Line

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This came up in Tetsudou Fan's newsfeed twice in the last few days:
The functions served by this Nippon Paper Industries warehouse will be moved to Soka City in Saitama, and there are no other customers on the line.  Official decommissioning will be July 1st, but it saw its last revenue train on March 14th around 2:45 PM.  Fortunately the railfans were on site and have provided some nice YouTube videos:
DE10 1666 on its way to Kita-Oji Station, by dd51de10

Arriving at Kita-Oji Station (basically Nippon Paper's loading dock, as far as I can tell) and then leaving with the last load, by tebure1

Back to Tabata yard, by dd51de10

A run-by at Oji passenger station, by Daisuke FUJII:


Paper or printing operations at this site go back to May 1910.  Japan's National Printing Bureau had a printshop near or on this site at that time, and the station was known as Shimo-Jujo. Oji Paper acquired this in 1916, and permission to operate a spur was obtained in August 1926.  Transport began soon after, with chemical companies being providing other work for the line.  In the early Showa period, Japan's armament industry was expanding, and as this line served an armory near Oji 6-chome, it was nationalized under the Ministry of Railways on December 20, 1927.  The line was not electrified, but because of the munitions there was hesitation about using steam locomotives, so the battery-powered AB10 was developed for this application.  It seems that it was electrified at some point; pantographs were added to the AB10s in 1931 and they were reclassified as type EB10.


Factories and warehouses along the line continued to operate in peacetime, and at its peak in 1969, the line saw 5 trains daily.  Recently, Nippon Paper's warehouse has had 3 services per day.


In the second google map below, you can see the station's yard, which looks like good source of inspiration for a layout :grin.  There are 4 sidings plus the main track at the platform.  There's a fair bit of switching, which appears to provide escape track for a locomotive toward the north end of any track in the yard.


Kind of a shame about closing this down, I think these freight spurs (this was 4km long) add operational interest and a bit of mystery in that as a passenger, it's difficult to figure out what they're for and where they go, and they provide something for me to read about on Wikipedia :grin.  It's also unfortunate from a practical point of view; according to the station's wikipedia page (http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8C%97%E7%8E%8B%E5%AD%90%E9%A7%85 in Japanese) tonnage was going up from about 1998 to 2008, the last year that figures are provided on that page.  Nippon Paper currently has a warehouse in Soka City Aoyagi 1-chome.  It's not clear if this is the facility taking on the work of the Kita-Oji Warehouse, but if it is, it has no rail connection.
The line starts somewhere in Tabata yard: http://goo.gl/maps/qizQJ
And after passing Oji and Kami-Nakazato, it splits off and ends at the warehouse, here: http://goo.gl/maps/5lc5M

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Playing "Land of Hope and Glory" - a quintessentially English composition - seems an odd choice as the DE15 pulled out for the last time... :icon_scratch:

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