Beloved Hokkaido Sightseeing Train Makes Last Seasonal Run Along Sea Of Okhotsk

Beloved Hokkaido sightseeing train makes last seasonal run along Sea of OkhotskThe Ryuhyo Norokko drift ice sightseeing train cruised into Shiretoko-Shari Station to cheers on Feb. 28 to complete its final run after more than two decades of service.
About 260 passengers made the farewell trip on the Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) Senmo Line train and were treated to spectacular views of drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk.

“The drift ice seen from the train was a scene different from everyday life and beautiful,” said Shari resident Chisato Sasaki, a 36-year-old mother who boarded the train for the first time with her two daughters. “With a name that is familiar to town residents and tourists, I want JR Hokkaido to continue the train's service in a new form.”

The Ryuhyo Norokko left Abashiri Station at 1:57 p.m. As it approached its final destination, passengers broke into applause when an in-car announcement said, “Thank you for using our train for 26 years.”

Train buffs along the railway line also extended their gratitude.

The Ryuhyo Norokko, which has become popular as one of the main attractions for drift ice sightseeing, travels on the route between Abashiri and Shiretoko-Shari stations for one month starting at the end of January. The train, which began operations in 1990, is equipped with benches facing wide windows and a “daruma" stove, which enables passengers to roast dried squid sold at a stall in the train.

JR Hokkaido decided to halt operations at the end of this sightseeing season due to the aging locomotive and cars. However, the railway is considering continuing the operation with a diesel train starting next season.