Biwako Line

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  A   Biwako Line
JRW series223 Biwako.jpg
223-2000 series EMU on a Biwako Line Special Rapid service
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System Urban Network
Locale Kyoto Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture
Termini Maibara
Kyoto (Tōkaidō Line)
Nagahama (Hokuriku Line)
Stations 23
Operation
Opening May 1, 1882 (as part of Tōkaidō Main Line)
March 13, 1988 (renamed as Biwako Line)
Owner JR West
Operator(s) JR West
JR Freight
Technical
Line length 75.4 km (46.9 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead line
Operating speed 130 km/h (81 mph)

The Biwako Line (琵琶湖線 Biwako-sen?) is the nickname used by the operator of the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) to refer to the portion of the Tōkaidō Main Line (between Maibara Station and Kyoto Station) and the Hokuriku Main Line (between Maibara Station and Nagahama Station). The section, along with JR Kyoto Line and JR Kobe Line, forms a contiguous service that is the main trunk of JR West's "Urban Network" commuter rail network in the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Metropolitan Area.

Overview[edit]

The line is named after Lake Biwa (琵琶湖 Biwa-ko?), which the route runs along. Line nicknames were introduced when the newly privatized JR West intended to use "familiar" names over official line names, such as Tōkaidō Main Line and Fukuchiyama Line. Biwako Line did not appear on the first list, and instead The JR Kyoto Line was to be called up to Maibara. A move in Shiga Prefecture opposed the name, claiming that the name of Kyoto Line in Shiga sounds like an auxiliary, requiring its own name in the prefecture. Biwako Line was thus made to refer to the section between Maibara and Kyoto.

The section of the name was extended to Nagahama, on the alteration of electric supply from 20 kV AC to 1,500 V DC, which enabled through operation to Kyoto and Osaka.

Although the "Biwako Line" nickname is used by the operator JR West for passenger announcements, the official status of Tōkaidō Main Line has not been changed or discussed. The counterpart for the line, Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) uses its official name "Tōkaidō Main Line" for the section of JR West, at the connections of Kyoto and Maibara. The "Biwako Line" nickname appears in some local newspapers and real estate advertisements. Frequent passengers understand that the Biwako, JR Kyoto, JR Kobe lines are in fact one line, however, public recognition of the name is still in question, especially among non-users along the line.

Trains[edit]

Special Rapid Service (新快速)
  • Trains terminate at Nagahama, Maibara and Yasu (some trains continue on Hokuriku Line to Omi-Shiotsu and Tsuruga). Stops at Nagahama, Tamura, Sakata, Maibara, Hikone, Notogawa, Omi-Hachiman, Yasu, Moriyama, Kusatsu, Minami-Kusatsu, Ishiyama, Otsu, Yamashina, and Kyoto. Continues on JR Kyoto Line to Osaka and beyond.
Local trains (普通)
  • Operated as rapid service trains when running in the west of Takatsuki (Kyoto in the morning) (3 doors par car)
    • These local trains are mainly operated on the Biwako Line and make every stop on the line. They terminate at Maibara and Yasu, with limited service to Nagahama and Ogaki.
  • JR Kyoto Line local trains (4 doors par car)
    • JR Kyoto Line local service extends to Yasu during rush hour on weekdays.

Stations[edit]

Stations are listed from east to west. The distance of Tokyo - Maibara is 445.9 km, and that of Tokyo - Kyoto is 513.6 km. Historically, the Tōkaidō Main Line continued from Tokyo to Kyoto and beyond, through Maibara. In the Japanese timetable books, the distances from Tokyo are still shown in the table, although the Biwako Line's officially begins at Maibara.

  • S: Trains stop.
  • s: limited stop
  • |: Trains pass.
  • Local (4-door trains): JR Kyoto Line local trains
  • Local (3-door trains): operated as rapid service trains when running in the west of Takatsuki (Kyoto in the morning)
Station Japanese Stop Transfers Location
Local
(4 doors)
Local
(3 doors)
Special Rapid Ward, city Prefecture
Hokuriku Main Line
Through service from Hokuriku Main Line
Nagahama 長浜 S S Hokuriku Main Line for Ōmi-Shiotsu and Tsuruga Nagahama Shiga
Tamura 田村 S S
Sakata 坂田 S S Maibara
Tōkaidō Main Line
Through service from Tōkaidō Main Line (JR Central)
Maibara 米原 S S Tōkaidō Shinkansen, Tokaido Line for Gifu and Nagoya
Ohmi Railway Main Line
Maibara Shiga
Hikone 彦根 S S Ohmi Railway Main Line Hikone
Minami-Hikone 南彦根 S |
Kawase 河瀬 S |
Inae 稲枝 S |
Notogawa 能登川 S S Higashiomi
Azuchi 安土 S | Omihachiman
Ōmi-Hachiman 近江八幡 S S Ohmi Railway Yōkaichi Line
Shinohara 篠原 S |
Yasu 野洲 s S S Yasu
Moriyama 守山 s S S Moriyama
Rittō 栗東 s S | Ritto
Kusatsu 草津 s S S Kusatsu Line Kusatsu
Minami-Kusatsu 南草津 s S S
Seta 瀬田 s S | Otsu
Ishiyama 石山 s S S Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line
Zeze 膳所 s S | Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line
Ōtsu 大津 s S S
Yamashina 山科 s S S Kosei Line
Kyoto Municipal Subway Tōzai Line
Keihan Keishin Line (Keihan Yamashina Station)
Yamashina-ku, Kyoto Kyoto
Kyoto 京都 S S S Sagano Line (Sanin Main Line), Nara Line
Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Kintetsu Kyoto Line
Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Through service on JR Kyoto Line

Rolling stock[edit]

Local[edit]

  • 113 series (Kusatsu – Kusatsu – Kyoto, through service with Kusatsu Line and Kosei Line)
  • 117 series (Kusatsu – Kusatsu – Kyoto, through service with Kusatsu Line and Kosei Line)
  • 207 series (Yasu – Kusatsu – Kyoto, through service with Kosei Line)
  • 221 series (through service with Kosei Line and JR Central Tōkaidō Line)
  • 223-6000 series (through service with Kosei Line and JR Central Tōkaidō Line)
  • 321 series (Yasu – Kusatsu – Kyoto, through service with Kosei Line)
  • 521 series (Nagahama – Maibara, through service with Hokuriku Line)

Special Rapid and Local[edit]

  • 223-1000 series (through service with Kusatsu Line, Kosei Line, Hokuriku Line and JR Central Tōkaidō Line)
  • 223-2000 series (through service with Kusatsu Line, Kosei Line, Hokuriku Line and JR Central Tōkaidō Line)
  • 225-0 series (through service with Kusatsu Line, Kosei Line, Hokuriku Line and JR Central Tōkaidō Line)

Limited Express[edit]

Former[edit]