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Hokkaido Railway Company

Hokkaido Railway Company Web Site; Hokkaido Rail Pass

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The Hokkaido Railway Company (北海道旅客鉄道株式会社, Hokkaidō Ryokaku Tetsudō Kabushiki-Kaisha) is one of the constituent companies of the Japan Railways Group (JR Group). It is often referred to using its official abbreviation of JR Hokkaido (JR北海道, Jeiāru Hokkaidō). It operates intercity and local rail services in Hokkaido, Japan. The company introduced Kitaca, a smart card ticketing system, in the autumn of 2008. At the time of its privatization in 1987, JR Hokkaido operated 21 railway lines totalling 3,176.6 kilometres of narrow-gauge (1,067 mm) track and a ferry service to Aomori. Since then, that figure has dwindled to just below 2,500 kilometres, as unprofitable lines have been shut down or spun off (in the case of the Hokkaidō Chihoku Kōgen Railway). The ferry service has also been replaced by the Seikan Tunnel. On 19 November 2016, JR Hokkaido's president announced plans to further rationalize its network by the withdrawal of services from up to 1,237 km, or about 50% of the current network, including the closure of the remaining section of the Rumoi Main Line (the Rumoi - Mashike section closed on 4 December 2016), the Shin-Yubari - Yubari section of the Sekisho Line (closed on 1 April 2019), the non-electrified section of the Sassho Line (closed 17 April 2020) and the Nemuro Line between Furano and Shintoku. Other lines, including the Sekihoku Main Line, Senmo Main Line, the Nayoro - Wakkanai section of the Soya Line and the Kushiro - Nemuro section of the Nemuro Line, are proposed for conversion to Third Sector operation. Still, if local governments are not agreeable, such sections will also face closure. JR Hokkaido closed 25 stations from March 2021 to March 2022 due to a decrease in passengers.


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