Imagine if you were the sole passenger of a train service that ran twice a day, just for you.
女子高生一人しか利用者がいない駅、✌( ‘ω’ )✌最高～ pic.twitter杭州龙凤论坛m/NzYiDaUvCG— はたらくキツネ (@foxnumber6) December 31, 2015
It is nothing new for one schoolgirl in Hokkaido, Japan, who, for the past three years, has reportedly been the only passenger to use the 7.04am and 5.08pm trains that pass through the remote Kami-Shirataki station.
The story goes, that three years ago, the Hokkaido Railway Co was set to close the station as its remote location meant it was almost entirely unused.
After learning that there remained a single student who still used the service for her daily travel to high school, the company decided to keep the station open until she graduated in March this year.
More generous still is that the company adjusted the train timetable to fit in with the unnamed student’s school schedule.
However a contrasting report by Singapore newspaper The Straits Times suggests the happy tale may have been slightly embellished.
Quoting the Taiwan Apple Daily, the newspaper said the student actually took the train from Kyu-Shirataki Station, with more than 10 schoolmates at 7.15am, and that they had a choice of three trains for their return journey at the end of each day.
The Taiwanese media outlet confirmed that Japan Railways would close three underused stations by March this year, but the decision to do so may not have been related to the student’s graduation date.
#北海道駅巡り かみしらたき駅 煙突はあるけど暖房器具は無し。停車列車が上下とも一本ずつじゃ仕方ないか。駅前商店の自販機でホットコーヒー買って寒さを凌いだ。 #鉄道 #JR北海道 #石北本線 #駅巡り #上白滝駅 #木造駅舎 #白滝シリーズ #北海道の無人駅 #無人駅 #紋別郡遠軽町 #Nikon #NikonD5000 #TAMRONA photo posted by とも (@nothx_tomo) on Dec 5, 2013 at 6:46am PST
定番②。時刻表と駅文庫。1日上り下り1本ずつ。というわけで降りた列車は遠軽方面の初発列車であり終列車。 #乗り鉄 #木造駅舎 #秘境駅 #白滝シリーズA photo posted by supersoya (@supersoya) on Dec 17, 2015 at 2:59pm PST
While it is unclear how heavily embellished the story was on social media, it still generated a strong response on the CCTV China Facebook page, where the rail company was commended for the service.
“Why should I not want to die for a country like this, when the government is ready to go an extra mile just for me,” one person said in a Facebook post.
“This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level. Every citizen matters. No child left behind!”
上白滝駅到着！！ やっとおわった！！A photo posted by 102 so (@102so) on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:05am PST
Another person commented that young people in Japan were considered to be a “long-term investment” that will ultimately repay the system when they grow up and join the workforce.
The story of the lone passenger speaks to the population crisis being felt across rural Japan.
In the past few years, Hokkaido, in Japan’s far north, has had services on 20 railways lines shut down due to rapid declines in population in the region.
Japan’s rail system is feeling the impact of the country’s record-low birthrate and the threat of losing a third of its population by 2060.
It is not clear where the girl goes to school nor how long the train journey takes. */]]>