Chūō Main Line
|Chūō Main Line|
JR East E351 series Super Azusa limited express between Takao and Sagamiko
|Locale||Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Aichi prefectures|
|Operator(s)||JR East, JR Central|
|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)|
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 runs between Tokyo and Nagoya, although it is the slowest direct railway connection between the two cities; the coastal Tōkaidō Main Line is slightly faster, while 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 run by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), while the western portion, the Chūō West Line (中央西線 Chūō-saisen ), is run by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). The dividing point between the two companies is Shiojiri Station, where express trains from both ends spur off onto the Shinonoi Line towards the cities of Matsumoto and Nagano. Despite 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 route the Chūō Main Line takes is 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. 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 runs along the old Nakasendō highway (famous for the preserved post towns of Tsumago-juku and Magome-juku) and the steep Kiso Valley.
- Entire Route (Tokyo - Nagoya including branch): 424.6 km
- East Line (Tokyo - Shiojiri): 222.1 km
- East Line - Tatsuno Branch (Okaya - Tatsuno - Shiojiri): 27.7 km
- West Line (Shiojiri - Nagoya): 174.8 km
- Shiojiri - Kanayama: 171.5 km
- Kanayama - Nagoya: 3.3 km (alongside Tōkaidō Main Line)
Stations and services 
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 
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 in every station and 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-town 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.
(See legends above)
- 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 
The four-track section ends at Mitaka. Currently, construction is ongoing 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. Further plans have been proposed to add another two tracks as far as Tachikawa; however, this will not be 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.
|Musashi-Sakai||25.7||S||L||R|||||||||||Seibu Tamagawa Line||Musashino|
|Takao||53.1||L||R||C||S||T||Keiō Takao Line|
Takao - Shiojiri 
Most of the rapid service trains from Tokyo turn 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.
Okaya – Shiojiri 
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.
|Okaya||210.4||Chūō Line (for Kami-Suwa, Midoriko)||Okaya||Nagano|
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 zig zag layout. The signal station was closed on October 12, 1983.
Shiojiri - Nakatsugawa 
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 player of the rural Shiojiri-Nakatsugawa section.
|Nakatsugawa||317.0||Chūō Line (for Tajimi, Nagoya)|
Nakatsugawa - Nagoya 
Local and rapid service trains run on the line from Nakatsugawa to Nagoya. This section carries urban traffic of the Greater Nagoya Area.
- R: Rapid
- CL: Central Liner
- HL: Home Liner (Only some Home Liner trains stop at stations marked with an asterisk.)
|Ena||328.6||R||CL||HL||Akechi Railroad Akechi Line||Ena|
JR Freight Nagoyaminato Branch
Signals and junctions 
- 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 
Chūō East Line (JR East) 
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.
- Chūō Rapid Line
- Chūō-Sōbu Line
- Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line
- Local Trains
- Limited Express
- Seasonal services
Chūō West Line (JR Central) 
- Local Trains
- Limited Express
Freight train 
The oldest portion of the Chūō Line is the segment from Shinjuku Station to Tachikawa Station, which dates back to 1889. The extension westward continued through the turn of the century, with Hachiōji Station and eastern Yamanashi prefecture in 1901, and Kōfu in 1903. The West Line from Nagoya started in 1900. The East and West lines were connected in 1911.
The section between Iidamachi Station (formerly located between Suidōbashi Station and Iidabashi Station) and Nakano Station was the first urban electric railway in Japan.
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.
|Section||Date of opening||Builder|
(See note below)
- 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.