Train keeps going for only one passenger

By Julian Ryall in Tokyo

The Kami-Shirataki station. Photo / Wikipedia creative commons
The Kami-Shirataki station. Photo / Wikipedia creative commons

For the past three years, a train has stopped at the remote Kami-Shirataki station in the far north of Japan just twice a day.

At 7:04am prompt, it takes on a single passenger - a student on her way to school - and brings her home again at 5:08pm.

The student's journey to school may be lonely, but the operator of the line, the Hokkaido Railway Co, has been praised for its commitment to its customers after a story about the service by China's CCTV went viral.

The railway company had planned to shut the station down three years ago as it was virtually unused, until it realised that a single student was still boarding the train every school-day morning and alighting every evening.

Hokkaido Railway Co decided to keep the station open only until the girl - who has not been named in media reports - graduates from high school in March.


"This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level", said one poster on the CCTV Facebook page. "Every citizen matters. No child left behind!"

And while the story has led to praise for the railway firm, it does underline the population crisis that Japan faces.

Hokkaido, the most northerly of Japan's four main islands, has had services on 20 railway lines halted in recent years. The population in this rural and remote part of the country is declining more rapidly than the national average.

By 2060, Japan's population is forecast to have aged dramatically and contracted by as much as one-third to around 85 million people, with most living in the cities.Telegraph Group Ltd

- Daily Telegraph UK

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