Chūō Main Line

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Chūō Main Line
Sazusa.jpg
JR East E351 series Super Azusa limited express between Takao and Sagamiko
Overview
Type Heavy rail
Locale Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Aichi prefectures
Termini Tokyo
Nagoya
Stations 112
Operation
Opening 1889
Operator(s) JR East, JR Central
Technical
Line length 424.6 km (263.8 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Operating speed 130 km/h (80 mph)
Route map
Map railroad japan chuo rough.png

The Chūō Main Line (中央本線 Chūō-honsen?), commonly called the Chūō Line, is one of the major trunk railway lines in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Nagoya, although it is the slowest direct railway connection between the two cities; the coastal Tōkaidō Main Line is slightly faster, and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the fastest rail link between the cities.

The eastern portion, the Chūō East Line (中央東線 Chūō-tōsen?), is operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), while the western portion, the Chūō West Line (中央西線 Chūō-saisen?), is operated by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). The dividing point between the two companies is Shiojiri Station, where express trains from both operators continue to the Shinonoi Line towards the cities of Matsumoto and Nagano. Compared to the huge urban areas at either end of the Chūō Line, its central portion is very lightly traveled; the Shiojiri-Nakatsugawa corridor is only served by twice-hourly local and hourly limited express trains.

The Chūō Main Line passes through the mountainous center of Honshū. Its highest point (near Fujimi Station) is about 900 meters above sea level and much of the line has a gradient of 25 per mil (2.5% or 1 in 40). Along the Chūō East Line section, peaks of the Akaishi and Kiso as well as Mount Yatsugatake can be seen from trains. The Chūō West Line parallels the old Nakasendō highway (famous for the preserved post towns of Tsumago-juku and Magome-juku) and the steep Kiso Valley.

Routes[edit]

  • Entire Route (Tokyo - Nagoya including branch): 424.6 km
  • East Line (Tokyo - Shiojiri): 222.1 km
    • Tokyo - Kanda: 1.3 km (officially part of the Tōhoku Main Line)
    • Kanda - Yoyogi: 8.3 km
    • Yoyogi - Shinjuku: 0.7 km (officially part of the Yamanote Line)
    • Shinjuku - Shiojiri: 211.8 km
  • East Line - Tatsuno branch line (Okaya - Tatsuno - Shiojiri): 27.7 km
  • West Line (Shiojiri - Nagoya): 174.8 km

Stations and services[edit]

This section lists all stations on the Chūō Main Line and generally explains regional services on the line. In addition, there are limited express services connecting major cities along the line, namely Azusa, Super Azusa, Kaiji, Hamakaiji, Narita Express and Shinano. For details of the limited express trains, see the relevant articles.

Tokyo - Mitaka[edit]

Chūō Line E233 series train in Tokyo, June 2007
0 kilometer post at Tokyo Station

The section between Tokyo and Mitaka is grade-separated, with no level crossings. Between Ochanomizu and Mitaka, the Chūō Main Line has four tracks; two of them are local tracks (緩行線 kankō-sen?) with platforms at every station; the other two are rapid tracks (快速線 kaisoku-sen?) with some stations without platforms. The local tracks are used by the main line local trains (operated only in early morning and late night) and the Chūō-Sōbu Line local trains, while the rapid tracks carry rapid service and express trains. The Tokyo-Mitaka portion is a vital cross-city rail link, and also the city's best-known suicide location due to the high speed and cramped schedule of the trains.

The commuter services on the rapid tracks are collectively called the Chūō Rapid Line (中央快速線 Chūō-kaisoku-sen?) or the Chūō Line (Rapid) (中央線快速 Chūō-sen-kaisoku?) in comparison with the Chūō Line (Local) (中央線各停 Chūō-sen-kakutei?) or the Chūō-Sōbu Line on the local tracks. The former is usually referred to simply as the Chūō Line and the latter the Sōbu Line. Separate groups of trainsets are used for these two groups of services: cars with an orange belt for the rapid service trains and cars with a yellow belt for the local service trains, with the exception of early morning and late night local service trains which use cars with an orange belt. Signs at stations also use these colors to indicate the services.

This section is located entirely within Tokyo.

Legends for the table

  • Local trains:
    • S: Chūō-Sōbu Line local trains
    • L: Local trains from/to Tokyo operating during early morning and late night hours using rapid train cars
    • T: Local trains through to Tōzai Line
  • Rapid trains (Chūō Rapid Line):
    • R: Rapid (快速 Kaisoku?)
    • C: Commuter Rapid (通勤快速 Tsūkin Kaisoku?)
    • S: Chūō Special Rapid (中央特快 Chūō Tokkai?) / Ōme Special Rapid (青梅特快 Ōme Tokkai?) through to Ōme Line
    • T: Commuter Special Rapid (通勤特快 Tsūkin Tokkai?)
  • Trains pass stations marked with a vertical bar.
Station Distance
(km)
Stops
(See legends above)
Transfers Location
Local Rapid
S L T R C S T
Tōkyō 0.0 L R C S T Chiyoda
Kanda 1.3 L R C S T
Ochanomizu 2.6 S L R C S T
Suidōbashi 3.4 S L | | | |
Iidabashi 3.4 S L T1 | | | |
Ichigaya 5.8 S L | | | |
Yotsuya 6.6 S L R C S T
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
  • Tokyo Metro Namboku Line
Shinanomachi 7.9 S L | | | |   Shinjuku
Sendagaya 8.6 S L | | | | Shibuya
Yoyogi 9.6 S L | | | |
  • Yamanote Line
  • Toei Ōedo Line
Shinjuku 10.3 S L R C S T Shinjuku
Ōkubo 11.7 S L | | | |  
Higashi-Nakano 12.8 S L | | | | Nakano
Nakano 14.7 S L T R C S2 |
Kōenji 16.1 S L T R3 | | |   Suginami
Asagaya 17.3 S L T R3 | | |  
Ogikubo 18.7 S L T R C | |
Nishi-Ogikubo 20.6 S L T R3 | | |  
Kichijōji 22.5 S L T R C | | Musashino
Mitaka 24.1 S L T R C S |   Mitaka
Notes:
1: Tōzai Line through trains stop at the Tōzai Line (Tokyo Metro) section of Iidabashi Station. They run on the Tōzai Line instead of the Chūō Line east of Nakano.
2: Chūō Special Rapid service down trains started from Shinjuku don't stop Nakano.
3: Rapid trains pass these stations on weekends.

Mitaka - Takao[edit]

The four-track section ends at Mitaka. Currently, construction is underway between Mitaka and Tachikawa to elevate the tracks and eliminate level crossings; this section of the line was notorious for its level crossings which can be shut for upwards of an hour during rush hour. Plans have been proposed to add another two tracks as far as Tachikawa, but were not included in the track elevation, which was completed between 2008-2011, with further modifications in 2012.

This section is also all in Tokyo. For legends on train types, see the preceding section.

Station Distance
(km)
Stops Transfers Location
Local Rapid
S L R C S T
Mitaka 24.1 S L R C S |   Mitaka
Musashi-Sakai 25.7 S L R | | | Seibu Tamagawa Line Musashino
Higashi-Koganei 27.4 S L R | | |   Koganei
Musashi-Koganei 29.1 S L R | | |  
Kokubunji 31.4 S L R C S T Kokubunji
Nishi-Kokubunji 32.8 S L R | | | Musashino Line
Kunitachi 34.5 S L R | | |   Kunitachi
Tachikawa 37.5 S L R C S T Tachikawa
Hino 40.8   L R C S |   Hino
Toyoda 43.1   L R C S |  
Hachiōji 47.4   L R C S T Hachiōji
Nishi-Hachiōji 49.8   L R C S |  
Takao 53.1   L R C S T Keiō Takao Line

Takao - Shiojiri[edit]

Most of the rapid service trains from Tokyo terminate at Takao where the line exits the large urban area of Tokyo. The section between Takao and Ōtsuki still carries some commuter trains as well as long distance local trains and Limited Express trains. The Kaiji limited express terminates at Kōfu, the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture, while the Azusa and Super Azusa continue beyond Shiojiri to Matsumoto via the Shinonoi Line.

Station Distance Transfers Location
Takao 53.1   Hachiōji Tokyo
Sagamiko 62.6   Sagamihara Kanagawa
Fujino 66.3  
Uenohara 69.8   Uenohara Yamanashi
Shiotsu 74.0  
Yanagawa 77.6   Ōtsuki
Torisawa 81.2  
Saruhashi 85.3  
Ōtsuki 87.8 Fujikyuko Line
Hatsukari 93.9  
Sasago 100.4  
Kai-Yamato 106.5   Kōshū
Katsunuma-budōkyō 112.5  
Enzan 116.9  
Higashi-Yamanashi 120.1   Yamanashi
Yamanashishi 122.2  
Kasugaichō 125.0   Fuefuku
Isawa-onsen 127.8  
Sakaori 131.2   Kōfu
Kōfu 134.1 Minobu Line
Ryūō 138.6   Kai
Shiozaki 142.7  
Nirasaki 147.0   Nirasaki
Shimpu 151.2  
Anayama 154.7  
Hinoharu 160.1   Hokuto
Nagasaka 166.3  
Kobuchizawa 173.7 Koumi Line
Shinano-Sakai 178.2   Fujimi Nagano
Fujimi 182.9  
Suzurannosato 186.1  
Aoyagi 188.0   Chino
Chino 195.2  
Fumonji Junction (198.9)   Suwa
Kami-Suwa 201.9  
Shimo-Suwa 206.3   Shimosuwa
Okaya 210.4
  • Chūō Line (For Tatsuno)
Okaya
Midoriko 218.2   Shiojiri
Shiojiri 222.1

Okaya – Shiojiri[edit]

The Okaya-Shiojiri branch is an old route of the Chūō Main Line. It carries a small number of shuttle trains and trains from/to the Iida Line, which branches off at Tatsuno.

Station Distance Transfers Location
Okaya 210.4 Chūō Line (for Kami-Suwa, Midoriko) Okaya Nagano
Kawagishi 213.9  
Tatsuno 219.9 Iida Line Tatsuno
Shinano-Kawashima 224.2  
Ono 228.2  
Shiojiri 238.1
  • Chūō line (for Midoriko)
  • Shinonoi Line
  • Chūō Line (for Kiso-Fukushima)
Shiojiri

Prior to the opening of the new route between Okaya and Shiojiri, there was a junction (Higashi-Shiojiri Junction (東塩尻信号場?)) between Ono and Shiojiri stations. It had a reversing layout. The signal station was closed on October 12, 1983.

Shiojiri - Nakatsugawa[edit]

Shiojiri is the dividing point of the East Line and the West Line; no train continues from one to the other. The Shinano limited express is the main service for the rural Shiojiri-Nakatsugawa section.

Station Distance Transfers Location
Shiojiri 222.1 (see above) Shiojiri Nagano
Seba 226.3  
Hideshio 231.0  
Niekawa 236.2  
Kiso-Hirasawa 241.4  
Narai 243.2  
Yabuhara 249.8   Kiso (village)
Miyanokoshi 255.5   Kiso (town)
Harano 258.3  
Kiso-Fukushima 263.8  
Agematsu 271.1   Agematsu
Kuramoto 277.7  
Suhara 282.5   Ōkuwa
Ōkuwa 285.8  
Nojiri 288.8  
Jūnikane 292.5   Nagiso
Nagiso 298.0  
Tadachi 304.3  
Sakashita 307.1   Nakatsugawa Gifu
Ochiaigawa 313.2  
Nakatsugawa 317.0 Chūō Line (for Tajimi, Nagoya)

Nakatsugawa - Nagoya[edit]

Local and rapid service trains run on the line from Nakatsugawa to Nagoya. This section carries urban traffic for the Greater Nagoya Area.

Legends:

  • R: Rapid
  • CL: Central Liner
  • HL: Home Liner (Only some Home Liner trains stop at stations marked with an asterisk.)
Station Distance
(km)
Stops Transfers Location
Nakatsugawa 317.0 R CL HL   Nakatsugawa Gifu
Mino-Sakamoto 323.4 R CL |  
Ena 328.6 R CL HL Akechi Railroad Akechi Line Ena
Takenami 334.0 R CL |  
Kamado 339.4 R CL |   Mizunami
Mizunami 346.8 R CL HL  
Tokishi 353.7 R CL HL   Toki
Tajimi 360.7 R CL HL Tajimi
Kokokei 365.3 | | |  
Jōkōji 368.8 | | |   Kasugai Aichi
Kōzōji 372.9 R CL HL*

Aichi Loop Line

Jinryō 376.1 | | |  
Kasugai 378.8 R | |  
Kachigawa 381.9 R | |
Shin-Moriyama 384.6 | | |   Nagoya
Ōzone 387.1 R | HL*
Chikusa 389.8 R CL HL
Tsurumai 391.3 R | HL*
Kanayama 393.6 R CL HL
Sannō Junction 395.1  

JR Freight Nagoyaminato Branch

Nagoya 396.9 R CL HL

Signals and junctions[edit]

Fumonji Junction
  • Fumonji Junction (普門寺信号場 Fumonji Shingōjō?) is a junction between Chino and Kami-Suwa stations in Suwa, Nagano. It entered into use on September 2, 1970.
  • Sannō Junction (山王信号場 Sannō Shingōjō?) is a junction that diverts freight traffic from the Chūō Main Line to the Tōkaidō Line freight branch between Kanayama and Nagoya stations in Nagoya. It entered into use on October 10, 1962.

Rolling stock[edit]

Chūō East Line (JR East)[edit]

E233 series
115 series
E351 series on a Super Azusa service

New E233 series trains entered service on Tokyo-area commuter services from December 26, 2006. These trains are a development of the E231 series used on other commuter lines in the Tokyo area, and replaced the aging 201 series rolling stock introduced on the line in 1981.

From 2016, new E353 series EMUs are scheduled to be introduced on Azusa and Super Azusa limited express services, replacing the E351 and E257 series trains.[1]

Chūō West Line (JR Central)[edit]

383 series trainset on a Shinano service

Freight train[edit]

History[edit]

The Kinoe Takeshi Railway Co. opened the initial section of the Chūō Line from Shinjuku Station to Tachikawa Station in 1889. The company then extended the line both westward and eastward (towards Tokyo) until it was nationalised in 1906. The Japanese Government Railways (JGR) then continued to extend the line, reaching Shiojiri the same year, and Tokyo (at the Shoheibashi station) in 1908. The JGR also built the line from Nagoya, the first section opening in 1900, with the lines connecting in 1911. The Table below gives the section opening dates.

In 1904, the section between Iidamachi Station (formerly located between Suidōbashi Station and Iidabashi Station) and Nakano Station was the first urban electric railway in Japan using 600 V DC. Electrification was extended in 1919 and 1922, was increased to 1,200 V DC when extended to Tokyo in 1927, boosted again to 1,500 V DC in 1929, and reached Kofu in 1931. Electrification from the Nagano end was commissioned in sections from 1966, and the entire line was electrified by 1973.

The initial section double-tracked was from Shinjuku to Nakano in 1906, extending to Asakawa by 1939. Double-tracking from Nagano commenced in 1962, with 85% of the line double-tracked when work ceased in 1983.

CTC signalling was commissioned between Shiojiri - Nakatsu between 1973 and 1974, and extended to Nagoya in 1992.

Chūō Main Line construction timeline
Section Opening date Builder
East Line Tokyo 1919-03-01 JGR
Manseibashi †
1912-04-01
Shōheibashi †
1908-04-19
Ochanomizu
1904-12-31 Kōbu
Iidamachi †
1895-04-03
Ushigome †
1894-10-09
Shinjuku
1889-04-11
Tachikawa
1889-08-11
Hachiōji
1901-08-01 JGR
Uenohara
1902-06-01
Torisawa
1902-10-01
Ōtsuki
1903-02-01
Kai-Yamato
(Hajikano)
1903-06-11
Kōfu
1903-12-15
Nirasaki
1904-12-21
Fujimi
1905-11-25
Okaya
1983-07-05
(See note below)
JNR
Shiojiri
West Line 1909-12-01 JGR
Yabuhara
1910-10-05
Miyanokoshi
1911-05-01
Kiso-Fukushima
1910-11-25
Agematsu
1910-10-05
Suhara
1909-12-01
Nojiri
1909-09-01
Nagiso (Midono)
1909-07-15
Sakashita
1908-08-01
Nakatsugawa
(Nakatsu)
1902-12-21
Tajimi
1900-07-25
Nagoya

Notes:

  • The section between Okaya Station and Shiojiri Station is the new route that replaced the old route opened on June 11, 1906 by JGR.
  • Station names in parentheses are original names.
  • Stations marked † are now closed.
  • Prior to the connection of the East Line and the West Line in 1911, the section between Shiojiri Station and Miyanokoshi Station belonged to the East Line.

Former connecting lines[edit]

Kitaena train on the Kisogawa bridge, which still exists
  • Mitaka station - A 3km line to a Nakajima Aircraft factory opened in 1942, and was out of service in 1945. In 1950 the factory site was used to build a baseball stadium, and as JNR was sponsoring a professional baseball team (the Swallows, now the Tokyo Yakult Swallows), it was proposed that the team be based at the new Musashino stadium. JNR opened the line and electrified it at 1500 VDC in anticipation of that occurring. However, the site was considered too remote for a professional baseball team, and it became an athletics stadium. Poor patronage resulted in the line being closed in 1956.
  • Kokubunji station - A 7km line was opened in 1910 to haul gravel from the Tamagawa. It closed in 1914 due to flood damage, but was reopened in 1916 after being rebuilt by the Japanese Army. In 1920 the line was nationalised, and in 1921 the 4km beyond Kitafuchu was closed. A 6km extension to the Tokyo Racecourse opened in 1934. Gravel extraction from the Tamagawa ceased in 1959, and in 1973 the construction of the Musashino Line resulted in the closure of the line.
  • Kofu station - The Yamanashi horse tramway opened its first 660mm (2' 2") gauge section in 1898 and by 1904 had opened two lines (to Katsunuma and Fujikawa) totaling 34km. In 1930 the Katsunuma line was closed and the other line was closed beyond Kai-Aoyagi, 20km from Kofu. The company renamed itself the Yamanashi Electric Railway Co., regauged (to 1067mm) and electrified the line at 600 VDC and operated it until 1962.
  • Sakashita station: The 11km 762mm gauge Sakagawa line was opened to Maruno by the Hisaka River Railway Co. in 1926. A passenger service was operated 8 km to Okuya. The Forest Service opened a 9 km line connecting at Maruno the same year, and a 2km branch from Okuya that operated from 1933 until 1958. In 1944 the Forest Service took over the Sakagawa line, operating it until 1961, when the entire 20 km line closed.
  • Ochiaigawa station - The Bathtub Swamp forest railway opened a 10km, 762mm gauge line to Misaka in 1928 to haul timber. The freight was lost to trucks in 1954, and the line closed in 1962.
  • Nakatsugawa station: The Kitaena Railway Co. operated the 23 km Enaden line to Tsukechi, electrified at 600 V DC, from 1924 until 1978. At Tsukechi, it transshipped timber from a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge forest railway with an 18 km "main line" and a 14 km and two 5 km branch lines operated from 1932 until 1959.

Accidents[edit]

On September 12, 1997, a Super Azusa limited express bound for Matsumoto collided with a 201 series local train that failed to stop at a red signal while passing through Ōtsuki Station.

References[edit]

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

  1. ^ "JR東日本 富士山観光見込み、中央線特急に新型車両" [JR East to introduce new trains on Chuo Line limited express services, eying Mt Fuji tourism]. Sponichi Annex (in Japanese). Japan: Sports Nippon Newspapers. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 

External links[edit]