Saturday, 4 August 2012

Local Railway Supported by Rail-fans

EMU Choden 2000 series (ex-Keio 2000 series) leaves Inubo Station

Following my blog on July 26th, I am going to introduce the other railway in Chiba Prefecture. That is Choshi Electric Railway, called Choden. Choden is a small private railway company in the eastern edge of Chiba Prefecture. Connecting Choshi on the JR East Sobu Line and Tokawa near a fishery harbor, the total length is only 6.4km.

Choshi City faces the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It is famous for fisheries and the production of soy sauce. Construction of the sightseeing railway was planned since 1909 by local people. After overcoming many hurdles, Choden was opened in 1913 as a steam railway. Then, it was electrified in 1925.

Choden went through a lot of difficulties after becoming a modern electric railway. The biggest difficulty was that they faced bankruptcy in 1998. It was caused by the former president's embezzlement. As a result, Choden couldn't so much as even repair their trains.

But in Japan, there is a proverb "When one god deserts you, another will pick you up." Railway employees and rail-fans stood up nationwide to save Choden. The action was quite unique. They aggressively purchased nuresenbei (soft rice cracker), which were being produced by Choden on the side. It was much more effective than promoting railway tourism, because people could purchase nuresenbei through the mail order.

Eventually, Choden recovered from the crisis and their nuresenbei have become a specialty in Choshi City. The Choden is still supported by rail-fans.

Choden DeHa 1002 (ex-Tokyo Metro 2000 series) and KuHa 2501 at Nakanocho Station