Ban'etsu West Line
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|Banetsu West Line|
719 series EMU at Kōriyama Station, March 2008
|Locale||Fukushima, Niigata prefectures|
|Line length||175.6 km (109.1 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)|
|Electrification||20 kV AC, 50 Hz overhead catenary (Kōriyama – Kitakata)|
|Operating speed||100 km/h (60 mph)|
The Banetsu West Line (磐越西線 Ban'etsu-sai-sen?) is a railway line in Japan operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It connects Kōriyama Station in Kōriyama, Fukushima and Niitsu Station in Niigata, Niigata. The name "Banetsu" is taken from the first characters of the names of the ancient provinces of Iwaki (磐城?) and Echigo (越後?), which the Banetsu East and Banetsu West lines connect. "Sai" (西?) means "west" in Japanese.
The line's nickname is the Mori to Mizu to Roman no Tetsudō (森と水とロマンの鉄道 lit. "the water, forest, and nostalgia railway"?).
- Local trains generally stop at all stations, but some trains skip stations marked "▽".
- The column marked "* refers to the unnamed rapid service between Kōriyama and Aizu-Wakamatsu/Kitakata using 719 series EMUs.
- Trains can pass one another at stations marked "◇", "∨", or "∧"; stations marked "◆" are switchback stations. Trains cannot pass at stations marked "｜".
|Kōriyama||郡山||-||0.0||●||●||Tōhoku Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Tōhoku Main Line, Ban'etsu East Line, Suigun Line[* 1]||∨||Kōriyama||Fukushima|
|Jōko||上戸||6.5||27.3||｜||｜||｜||Inawashiro, Yama District|
|Bandaimachi||磐梯町||10.1||51.2||●||●||◇||Bandai, Yama District|
Aizu Line[* 2]
|Oikawa▽||笈川||3.1||73.2||｜||｜||｜||Yugawa, Kawanuma District|
|Electrified section ends|
|Onobori||尾登||3.8||101.0||｜||｜||Nishiaizu, Yama District|
|Toyomi||豊実||3.3||121.3||｜||｜||Aga, Higashikanbara District||Niigata|
|Niitsu||新津||2.8||175.6||●||Uetsu Main Line, Shin'etsu Main Line[* 3]||∧|
As of February 2009, the following rolling stock is used on the Banetsu West Line.
- 719 series EMUs (since June 2007)
- 485 series EMUs (Aizu Liner rapid services)
- KiHa 47 DMUs
- KiHa 52 DMUs
- KiHa 58 DMUs
- KiHa 110 series DMUs
- KiHa E120 DMUs (since November 2008)
- 455 series EMUs (from 1967 until March 2008)
The Ban'etsu West Line was planned under the Railway Construction Act in 1892, and the private Gan'etsu Railway opened the initial section from Kōriyama to Nakayamajuku on July 26, 1898, and extended the line to Aizu-Wakamatsu the following year. In 1906, when the line was extended to Kitakata, the Japanese Government Railways (JGR) nationalized the Gan'etsu Railway and renamed the line the Gan'etsu Line.
In 1910 the JGR opened the Niitsu - Maoroshi section and extended the eastern section to Yamato. The remaining sections were opened in 1913/14, providing the first rail link from Niigata to the east coast of Japan (and Tokyo). The line was renamed the Ban'etsu West Line in 1917, the year that the Matsuno tunnel (situated west of Kitakata) collapsed, blocking the line for 15 months, during which time a cableway operated to transfer freight and passengers walked around the blocked section. The reopened section permanently bypassed the tunnel.
Japan National Railways (JNR) started to modernize the line in the 1960s, introducing the line's first limited express service (as a part of the Yamagata-bound Yamabata) in 1965 between Ueno Station in Tokyo and Aizu-Wakamatsu via the Tōhoku Main Line. In 1968 the train was renamed Aizu Yamabata, but from 1993 onward it was renamed Viva Aizu and ran only between Koriyama and Aizu-Wakamatsu. The train was finally discontinued as a limited express service in 2003, though it remains in use as a rapid service train.
In 1967, JNR electrified the section between Kōriyama and Kitakata at 20kVAC. The non-electrified portion of the line between Kitakata and Niitsu is served by diesel multiple units and tourist focussed steam locomotives. CTC signalling was commissioned on the entire line in 1983.
In 2011 the line was closed for 15 days in March following the Tohoku earthquake, two days in April as a result of aftershocks, and for 10 weeks following torrential rain at the end of July.
Former connecting lines
- Kawageta station - The Nippon Sulphur Co. opened a 16km 762mm (2'6") gauge line to Numaiiri to transport sulphur ore in 1913. The line closed when the company became bankrupt in 1969.
- Bandaimachi station - The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) operated a 6km 788mm gauge electrified line during the construction of the Inawashiro 3rd hydro-electric power station. The line closed in 1926.
- Hirota station - The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) operated a 5km 788mm gauge electrified line during the construction of the Inawashiro 4th hydro-electric power station. The line closed in 1926.
- Kitakata station - A 12 km line to Nitchu was opened by JGR in 1938 primarily to transport gypsum. The mine closed in 1972, though freight services operated until 1983, the year before the line closed.
- Gosen station - The Kanbara Railway Co. operated a line to Kamo on the Shin'etsu Line from 1923 until 2002.
This article incorporates material from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
- JR East Niigata Area press release, (16 October 2008). Retrieved on 19 February 2009. (Japanese)
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