Each weekday morning at 7.04am, a train stops at a station in the far north of Japan and picks up a single passenger. At 5.08pm it returns and the passenger disembarks. No other passengers ever get on or off at this station. And this has been the case everyday since 2013. In a remarkable and heart-warming story, Kami-Shirataki Station exists solely to enable one teenage girl to get to and from her high-school. It may be a lonely journey for the girl, but thanks to the Hokkaido Railway Company it is still possible. The rail operator had been due to shut the station, until the student’s parents contacted them to let them know their daughter relied on their service, leading to a difficult decision.
The station was built by residents in 1955 for the purpose of getting local children to their school. And on learning the news of the importance of the journey for their sole passenger, Hokkaido Railway Company reversed their decision, and agreed to keep the station open until she graduates from High School this coming March. On her graduation, the station will close permanently. As result Hokkaido Railway has been lavished with praise for its decision after this story, originally published by China’s CCTV went viral.
"I got on and off this train for the last three years, and this station's presence has become something I have taken for granted," the student told Reuters."I do feel sad to think it will disappear."
(Pictured left: the Kami-Shirataki station timetable in full).
This might be an extreme example, but these low density train or “zombie" stations as some call them can be found across the world, with them only remaining operational for political or contractual reasons.
In the UK, Shippea Hill Station, saw just 22 passenger entrances and exits from it in 2015 according to figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Whilst the Independent, thinks it may have found the world's least busy railway - the cross-border train service from Niedaltdorf, in Germany's Saarland, to Bouzonville in France, operates only on Good Friday each year.
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