OSAKA — Keihan Electric Railway Co. will close an amusement facility at the end of March that it operates on the island of Yoshima in the Seto Inland Sea, it was learned Sunday.

According to sources, the railway operator has already told the Kagawa Prefectural Government of its decision to close Keihan Fisherman’s Wharf in the city of Sakaide in the prefecture, which opened in 1988 in line with the completion of the Seto Ohashi Bridge.

Although some 5 million people visited the facility, which offers a pleasure boat cruise as well as restaurants, during its first year of operation, the figure has fallen to the 1 million level in recent years due to the protracted economic slump and the decline in bridge traffic.

Keihan Electric Railway is currently reviewing loss-making operations to streamline its business, and determined that there was little chance that earnings of Keihan Fisherman’s Wharf would improve any time soon.

Although it sought to find a new operator among local businesses, talks fell through due to the poor prospects of profitability, sources said.

Kiso cruise halted

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Nagoya Railroad Co. will cease to operate its pleasure boat service on the Kiso River due to a decline in customers, company officials said Sunday.

The trip, known as the “Nihon Rhine-kudari,” takes passengers down the river, which flows through Gifu and Aichi prefectures. The railway operator will also dissolve its subsidiary that runs the service.

The plan is to be included in Nagoya Railroad’s new business strategy that is to go into effect from April. Relevant parties, such as the municipal governments along the boat route, have already been informed of the plans, the officials said.

The boat trip, in which boatmen skillfully guide their watercraft along the rapids of a 13-km stretch of the river between the cities of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, and Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, is popular among tourists.

In its heyday in the 1970s, some 400,000 people took the trip every year, but the figure had dwindled to about 70,000 in 2001, according to operators. The boat ride has been suspended from the end of last month.

Nagoya Railroad decided not to pay midterm dividends for the six months to September last year for the first time since it went public, and it is currently reviewing loss-making businesses within its corporate group.

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