Shin'etsu Main Line

Summary

The Shinetsu Main Line (Japanese: 信越本線, Japanese pronunciation: [Shin'etsu-honsen]) is a railway line, consisting of three geographically separated sections, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in Japan. It was originally one continuous line connecting Takasaki and Niigata via Nagano. Since the opening and later extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, sections running in parallel have either been abandoned or transferred to third-sector railway companies.

Shinetsu Main Line
Series115-Kujiranami.jpg
A 115 series train (Ōmigawa - Kujiranami)
Overview
Native name信越本線
StatusOperational
LocaleGunma, Nagano, and Niigata prefectures
Service
Operator(s)JR logo (east).svg East Japan Railway Company (JR East)
History
OpenedStages between 1885-1904
Closed
Technical
Line length175.3 km (108.9 mi)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Route map
JR Shinetsu Main Line linemap.svg
Map Legend
Red: Shin-etsu Main Line
Blue: Shinano Railway Line, Kita-Shinano Line and Myōkō Haneuma Line

The name of the line refers to the old names for Nagano and Niigata prefectures, Shinano (Japanese: ), and Echigo (Japanese: ).

The abandoned section through the Usui Pass was famous for its steep 66.7 (6.67%) gradient.[1]

SectionsEdit

From 14 March 2015, the line consists of the following three sections.

There are three small freight branches; from Echigo-Ishiyama Station to Niigata Freight Terminal, from Kami-Nuttari Junction to Nuttari Station, and from Kami-Nuttari Junction to Higashi-Niigata-kō Station.

ServicesEdit

Takasaki–YokokawaEdit

  • Local: 1 or 2 trains per hour
  • Excursion train: SL Gunma Yokokawa and SL YOGISHA Yokokawa

Shinonoi–NaganoEdit

All trains run through on the Shinonoi Line or the Shinano Railway Line.

Naoetsu–NiigataEdit

 
Stations of Shin'etsu Main Line between Naoetsu and Niigata
Limited express, Rapid

As of 17 March 2018, the following services are operated.[2][3]

Name Route Service frequency (daily)
Limited Express Shirayuki (Jōetsumyōkō/Arai) – Naoetsu – Niigata 5 return trips
Rapid Ohayo-Shinetsu Naoetsu – Niigata 1 down trip
Rapid Rakuraku-Train-Shinetsu Naoetsu – Niigata 1 up trip
Rapid (Arai -) Naoetsu – Niigata 1 return trip
Naoetsu – Nagaoka 2 down trips
1 up trip
Nagaoka – Niigata 1 return trip
Local
Naoetsu–Nagaoka: every 60-120 minutes
Nagaoka–Niitsu: every 60 minutes (every 20 minutes during peaks)
Niitsu–Niigata: every 20 minutes (every 5-10 minutes during peaks)
Excursion train (Joyful Train)
Koshino Shu*Kura

StationsEdit

Takasaki–YokokawaEdit

Station Japanese Distance
(km)
SL Connections Location
Takasaki 高崎 0.0 Takasaki Gunma Prefecture
Kita-Takasaki 北高崎 2.4  
Gumma-Yawata 群馬八幡 6.4  
Annaka 安中 10.6   Annaka
Isobe 磯部 17.6  
Matsuida 松井田 22.7  
Nishi-Matsuida 西松井田 23.9  
Yokokawa 横川 29.7 JR Bus Kanto Usui Line
  1. ^ a b Although the official terminus of the Ryōmō Line is at Shin-Maebashi and that of the Agatsuma Line is at Shibukawa, trains on both lines run through to Takasaki.

Yokokawa–ShinonoiEdit

The section between Yokokawa and Karuizawa was closed and the section between Karuizawa and Shinonoi was transferred to the ownership of the third-sector railway operator Shinano Railway from 1 October 1997 with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Nagano Shinkansen) between Takasaki and Nagano.

Shinonoi–NaganoEdit

Station Japanese Distance
(km)
Connections Location
Shinonoi 篠ノ井 0.0
Nagano Nagano Prefecture
Imai 今井 2.1  
Kawanakajima 川中島 4.3  
Amori 安茂里 6.4  
Nagano 長野 9.3
  1. ^ Although the official terminus of the Iiyama Line is at Toyono, trains on the line run through to Nagano.

Nagano–NaoetsuEdit

The section between Nagano and Naoetsu was transferred to the ownership of the third-sector railway operators Shinano Railway and Echigo Tokimeki Railway from 14 March 2015 with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension north of Nagano.

Naoetsu–NiigataEdit

A: Limited Express Shirayuki
B: Rapid Ohayo-Shinetsu
C: Rapid Rakuraku-Train-Shinetsu
D: Rapid
Trains stop at stations marked "O", skip at stations marked "|".
Station Japanese Distance
(km)
A B C D Connections Location
Naoetsu 直江津 84.3 O O O O Jōetsu Niigata Prefecture
Kuroi 黒井 87.0 | | | |  
Saigata 犀潟 91.4 | | | O Hokuhoku Line
Dosokohama 土底浜 93.7 | | | |  
Katamachi 潟町 95.5 | | | |  
Jōgehama 上下浜 98.3 | | | |  
Kakizaki 柿崎 101.9 O O O O  
Yoneyama 米山 107.8 | | | |   Kashiwazaki
Kasashima 笠島 111.7 | | | |  
Ōmigawa 青海川 113.9 | | | |  
Kujiranami 鯨波 116.9 | | | |  
Kashiwazaki 柏崎 120.6 O O O O Echigo Line
Ibarame 茨目 123.6 | | | |  
Yasuda 安田 126.5 | | | |  
Kitajō 北条 129.1 | | | |  
Echigo-Hirota 越後広田 132.4 | | | |  
Nagatori 長鳥 135.1 | | | |  
Tsukayama 塚山 140.1 | | | |   Nagaoka
Echigo-Iwatsuka 越後岩塚 144.8 | | | |  
Raikōji 来迎寺 147.6 | O O O  
Maekawa 前川 151.7 | | | |  
Miyauchi 宮内 154.3 | O O O Jōetsu Line
Minami-Nagaoka
Freight Terminal
南長岡 (155.7)  
Nagaoka 長岡 157.3 O O O O   Jōetsu Shinkansen
Kita-Nagaoka 北長岡 159.8 | | | |  
Oshikiri 押切 164.2 | | | |  
Mitsuke 見附 168.7 O O O O   Mitsuke
Obiori 帯織 172.8 | | | |   Sanjō
Tōkōji 東光寺 175.4 | | | |  
Sanjō 三条 178.9 | | O O  
Higashi-Sanjō 東三条 180.5 O O O O Yahiko Line
Honai 保内 184.3 | | | |  
Kamo 加茂 188.1 O O O O   Kamo
Hanyūda 羽生田 192.2 | | | |   Tagami
Tagami 田上 195.4 | | | |  
Yashiroda 矢代田 199.1 | | O O   Akiha-ku, Niigata
Furutsu 古津 202.2 | | | |  
Niitsu 新津 205.4 O O O O
Satsukino さつき野 206.9 | | | |  
Ogikawa 荻川 209.2 | | | |  
Kameda 亀田 214.1 | | | O   Kōnan-ku, Niigata
Echigo-Ishiyama 越後石山 216.5 | | | |   Higashi-ku, Niigata
Niigata 新潟 220.6 O O O O Chūō-ku, Niigata

Rolling StockEdit

PresentEdit

Takasaki–YokokawaEdit

Shinonoi–NaganoEdit

Naoetsu–NiigataEdit

FormerEdit

Takasaki–YokokawaEdit

Naoetsu–NiigataEdit

HistoryEdit

 
Abt rack railway loco used on the Usui Pass line, note the 'shoe' ahead of the nearest wheel to collect power via a third rail

The Japanese Government Railways opened the Takasaki to Yokokawa section in 1885, the Naoetsu to Sekiyama section the following year, and the Sekiyama - Nagano - Karuizawa section in 1888. In order to surmount the 552 metre altitude difference between Yokokawa and Karuizawa (which are 10 km apart), it then constructed an Abt rack section through the Usui Pass, which opened in 1893, and was double-tracked for 1 km from Karuizawa to the top of the rack section. A horse-drawn tramway operated between Yokokawa and Karuizawa until the rack section opened.

 
An electric train with both head and center locomotives in 1914

The Hokuetsu Railway opened the Naoetsu to Nagaoka section in 1897, extending the line to Niigata in 1904. That company was nationalised in 1907. In 1909, the Imperial Japanese Railway authorities invited bids for the electrification of the route. A German company was selected to provide the engines and General Electric supplied the turbines at the power station. In 1912, the rack section was electrified using third rail at 600 V DC, this being the first use of this method in Japan. The electrification allowed for the use of faster and longer trains which reduced journey times and also pollution from the steam engines.[4] A link to archival footage of the rack section operation is available here

Double-trackingEdit

The Karuizawa to Nagano section was double-tracked between 1917 and 1920, with the Nagaoka to Miyauchi section double-tracked in 1931, and the Niitsu - Kamo section in 1944. Double-tracking of the remainder of the Niigata to Naoetsu line was undertaken in sections between 1958 and 1973.

Double-tracking of the remainder of the Takasaki to Kaminagano line was undertaken in sections between 1963 and 1973, commencing with the replacement of the rack mechanism with an adhesion only electrified (1,500 V DC catenary) operation on the 1 in 15 (6.7%) grade. The rack equipment was initially kept as a contingency, and removed two months after the adhesion-only operation commenced and had proved its reliability.

The Kurohime to Myoko-Kogen section was double-tracked in conjunction with a realignment in 1980. The Mure to Kurohime section was also realigned and prepared for double-tracking (including new double-track size tunnels), but the second track was not laid.

ElectrificationEdit

The Miyauchi to Nagaoka section was electrified in 1947 at 1,500 V DC in conjunction with the electrification of the Joetsu Line, with the Nagaoka to Niigata section electrified in 1962, the same year the Takasaki to Yokokawa section was commissioned to facilitate the extension to Nagano the following year via the new adhesion line through the Usui Pass mentioned above. The Nagano to Naoetsu section was electrified in 1966, and extended to Miyauchi in 1969.

Separation into sectionsEdit

In 1997, following the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen, the Yokokawa to Karuizawa section was closed, and the Karuizawa to Shinonoi section transferred to the third-sector Shinano Railway.

On 14 March 2015, following the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa, the Nagano to Naoetsu section was also spun off to the following two third-sector operating companies owned primarily by the respective prefectures and municipalities.[5]

Former connecting linesEdit

 
The Kubiki Railway prior to 1940
 
A train on the Uomuna line in 1937, prior to its conversion to 1,067 mm gauge

(Note - for the connections at stations between Karuizawa and Shinonoi, see Shinano Railway Line)

  • Nagano Station: The Zenkoji Hakuba Railway Co. opened a 7 km line to Susohana Guchi in 1936. A proposal for the line to be extended to Hakuba on the Oito Line did not eventuate, and the line closed in 1944.
  • Kuroi Station: The Kubiki Railway Co. opened a 15 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Uragawara between 1914 and 1916, with the line closing in 1971.
  • Raikoji Station: The Nagaoka Railway Co. opened a 39 km line to Teradomari (on the Echigo Line) between 1915 and 1921. This company introduced Japan's first diesel railcar in 1928, and in 1951 electrified 31 km of the line at 750 V DC in 70 days, completing the balance the following year. Significant typhoon damage occurred in 1966, and in 1972, passenger services ceased between Raikoji and Nishinagaoka, with the entire line becoming freight-only three years later. The line closed in 1995.
The 13 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge Uonuma Railway to Nishiojiya was opened in 1911, and nationalised in 1922. It was converted to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge in 1954, freight services ceased in 1960, and the line closed in 1984.
  • Nagaoka Station: The Tochio Railway opened a 27 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Tochio and Yūkyūzan between 1915 and 1924.[6] The line was electrified at 600 V DC in 1948, with this being raised to 750 V DC in 1956. CTC signalling was commissioned in 1961, freight services ceased in 1967, and the line closed between 1973 and 1975.
  • Higashi Sanjo Station: The Echigo Railway Co. opened the 8 km line to Echigo Nagasawa in 1927, and was nationalised two months later. Freight services ceased in 1960, and the line closed in 1985.
  • Kamo Station: The Kanbara Railway Co. operated a line to Gosen on the Ban'etsu West Line from 1923 until 2002.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Harada, Katsumasa (1981). "Technological independence and progress of standardization in the Japanese railways". JETRO. Retrieved January 2, 2009. it was eventually decided to build the track at a steep grade of 66.7/1,000
  2. ^ "Timetable Nagaoka up (2018.3-)" (PDF). Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  3. ^ "Timetable Nagaoka down (2018.3-)" (PDF). Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  4. ^ Electric Railway Journal, June 20, 1914, Electrification of the Usui-Toge Railway, Japan, pg. 1393, https://archive.org/stream/electricrailway431914newy/electricrailway431914newy#page/1393/mode/1up/search/power+company
  5. ^ Osano, Kagetoshi (March 2015). 北陸新幹線並行在来線各社の姿 [Guide to companies operating conventional lines alongside the Hokuriku Shinkansen]. Tetsudō Daiya Jōhō Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 44, no. 371. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. pp. 28–33.
  6. ^ Wakuda, Yasuo (1993). 私鉄史ハンドブック [Private Railways History Handbook] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Denkisha Kenkyūkai. p. 43. ISBN 4-88548-065-5.

External linksEdit

  • Stations of the Shin'etsu Main Line (Gumma) (JR East) (in Japanese)
  • Stations of the Shin'etsu Main Line (Nagano/Niigata) (JR East) (in Japanese)