Ban'etsu West Line

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     Banetsu West Line
JRE-kuha718-13.jpg
719 series EMU at Kōriyama Station, March 2008
Overview
Type Regional rail
Locale Fukushima, Niigata prefectures
Termini Kōriyama
Niitsu
Stations 44
Operation
Opening 1898
Operator(s) JR East
Technical
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)
Route map
JR Banetsu Line linemap.svg

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"?).

Station list[edit]

  • 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 "|".
Station Japanese Distance (km) Rapid Transfers   Location
Between
stations
Total * Aizu Liner Agano
Kōriyama 郡山 - 0.0   Tōhoku Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Tōhoku Main Line, Ban'etsu East Line, Suigun Line[* 1] Kōriyama Fukushima
Kikuta 喜久田 7.9 7.9    
Akogashima 安子ケ島 3.9 11.8    
Bandai-Atami 磐梯熱海 3.6 15.4    
Nakayamajuku 中山宿 5.4 20.8    
Jōko 上戸 6.5 27.3     Inawashiro, Yama District
Inawashirokohan (closed) 猪苗代湖畔 2.0 29.3    
Sekito 関都 1.7 31.0    
Kawageta 川桁 2.4 33.4    
Inawashiro 猪苗代 3.3 36.7    
Okinashima 翁島 4.4 41.1    
Bandaimachi 磐梯町 10.1 51.2     Bandai, Yama District
Higashi-Nagahara 東長原 6.0 57.2     Aizuwakamatsu
Hirota 広田 2.8 60.0    
Aizu-Wakamatsu 会津若松 4.6 64.6 Tadami Line
Aizu Line[* 2]
Dōjima 堂島 5.5 70.1    
Oikawa 笈川 3.1 73.2     Yugawa, Kawanuma District
Shiokawa 塩川 1.9 75.1     Kitakata
Ubadō 姥堂 2.4 77.5    
Aizu-Toyokawa 会津豊川 2.0 79.5    
Kitakata 喜多方 1.7 81.2    
Electrified section ends
Yamato 山都 9.9 91.1       Kitakata Fukushima
Ogino 荻野 6.1 97.2      
Onobori 尾登 3.8 101.0       Nishiaizu, Yama District
Nozawa 野沢 5.2 106.2      
Kami-Nojiri 上野尻 5.1 111.3      
Tokusawa 徳沢 6.7 118.0      
Toyomi 豊実 3.3 121.3       Aga, Higashikanbara District Niigata
Hideya 日出谷 7.1 128.4      
Kanose 鹿瀬 5.2 133.6      
Tsugawa 津川 3.4 137.0      
Mikawa 三川 7.4 144.4      
Igashima 五十島 4.2 148.6      
Higashi-Gejō 東下条 3.9 152.5      
Sakihana 咲花 3.1 155.6       Gosen
Maoroshi 馬下 2.8 158.4      
Saruwada 猿和田 3.5 161.9      
Gosen 五泉 3.8 165.7      
Kita-Gosen 北五泉 1.8 167.5      
Shinseki 新関 2.5 170.0       Akiha-ku, Niigata
Higashi-Niitsu 東新津 2.8 172.8      
Niitsu 新津 2.8 175.6     Uetsu Main Line, Shin'etsu Main Line[* 3]
  1. ^ Although the official start of the Suigun Line is Asakanagamori, all trains run through to/from Kōriyama.
  2. ^ Although the official start of the Aizu Line is Nishi-Wakamatsu, all trains run through to/from Aizu-Wakamatsu.
  3. ^ Most Ban'etsu West Line trains travel through to/from Niigata.

Rolling stock[edit]

485 series Aizu Liner rapid service at Koriyama Station, March 2012

As of February 2009, the following rolling stock is used on the Banetsu West Line.

Past[edit]

History[edit]

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.

From 25 April, 2015 one two-car 719 series set will run on "FruiTea" (フルーティア) charter services on the line between Koriyama and Aizu-Wakamatsu. The train will have room for 36 passengers. [2]

Former connecting lines[edit]

  • 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.

References[edit]

This article incorporates material from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

External links[edit]