The Red List of Trains in Japan

JNR Class DE15

Data (as of 31 Mar 2024)

Status:  Vulnerable 
 (JR Hokkaido)
 Critically Endangered 
 (JR West)
 (JR East, JR Central,
 Least Concern 
 (Seino Railway)
Constructed in: 1967-73, 1977-81
Number built: 85
Registered: 15


Class DE15 is a type of diesel locomotive developed by Japanese National Railways. It is almost identical to Class DE10, but the DE15 is designed to be used with snow blower. Thus, they look completely different from the photo above when there is heavy snow. In other seasons, they can be used as shunter or even haul trains on mainline just like the DE10.

84 locos were distributed to JR East, JR Central and JR West following the privatisation of JNR, but those in Honshu (main island of Japan) declined dramatically by the 2010s. JR East and JR Central replaced all locos with smaller vehicles for clearing snow. JR East resold some of them to JR Freight, where the locos were converted to the Class DE10. JR West has been replacing the DE15 with KiYa 143 series, a type of diesel multiple unit with snowploughs.

Ainokaze Toyama Railway also had two locos which were inherited from JR West.

Current Operations & Future Prospects

JR Hokkaido uses 12 locos in the entire island to remove snow on track. In other seasons, they engage in shunting or hauling empty coaching stock on mainline. They are planned to be replaced with new diesel trains with snowploughs by 2028.

JR West has three and they run to clear snow on tracks in winter, but they are soon to be withdrawn.

(Updated: 31 Mar 2024)

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