In order to increase access to the state-run Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture, which is visited by around 200 million people a year, the city's third sector, the Hitachinaka Seaside Railway, has decided to extend the line and build a new station near the south exit of the state-run Hitachi Seaside Park. It is extremely rare for a regional railway to have a difficult business environment, and it is said that it is aiming to complete the project as early as five years after the start of construction.

In January 3, the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway, the third sector of Hitachinaka City, received permission from the national government to extend 1.2021 kilometers from Ajigaura Station, the current terminus.

On the other hand, in response to sluggish demand due to the new coronavirus and the increase in construction costs due to soaring prices, the company postponed the application for construction permits to the government for two consecutive years and was reviewing the plan itself.

According to the people involved, as a result of the study, the company decided to divide the construction into two phases, first to develop a new station near the south exit of the seaside park, and to open a 1.2-kilometer section first.

The seaside park, which attracts around 2 million visitors a year, is popular for seasonal plants such as nemophila, and many visitors come from the city center, so in addition to increasing access to further increase the number of visitors, Ibaraki Prefecture is developing a new industrial park in the vicinity, and we hope to capture commuting demand.

In the second phase, we plan to develop a 1.4-kilometer section to the vicinity of the west exit of Seaside Park, where a large commercial facility is adjacent to it, as originally planned.

In a difficult business environment, with nearly 200% of regional railways in the red, the extension plan is extremely rare, and Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway is aiming to complete the project as early as five years after the start of construction after submitting an application to the government for construction permission by the end of this fiscal year.

Extremely rare regional railway extension

In a regional railway that continues to be in a difficult business situation, the extension is an extremely rare move.

According to a summary by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), 95 out of 85 companies nationwide were in the red in the railway and track business last fiscal year, up from 74 companies in the first year of Reiwa.

In addition,
▽ JR East Japan announced that the deficit will be 62.648 billion yen in 3 sections that are particularly used in the last fiscal year,
and ▽ JR West Japan has announced that some sections of the Geibi Line connecting Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures will be enforced based on the law that was enforced this year. The establishment of a council to discuss the continuation of the route and the conversion to buses is being coordinated.

Recently, although the decline in demand due to the new coronavirus has been significant, local public transportation has been in a difficult situation due to the declining birthrate and aging population and declining population, and in March this year, a part of the JR Rumoi Line was abolished in Hokkaido, and in March next year, a part of the JR Nemuro Line will be abolished.

Under these circumstances, it is expected that there will be no examples of the extension of regional railways after the Heisei 3 fiscal year, when records are kept by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, except for trams and monorails.