Hokuriku Main Line

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Hokuriku Main Line
Takefu Station Thunderbird1 200507.jpg
Thunderbird limited express at Takefu Station
Overview
Type Regional rail
System JR West
Status Operating
Locale Hokuriku region
Termini Maibara Station
Naoetsu Station
Stations 78
Operation
Opening March 10, 1882
Owner JR West
Operator(s) JR West, JR Freight
Technical
Line length 356.5 km (221.5 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC, 20 kV AC 60Hz
Operating speed 130 km/h (81 mph)
Route map
JR Hokuriku Mainline linemap.svg

The Hokuriku Main Line (北陸本線 Hokuriku-Honsen?) is a 358.3 kilometer line owned by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) connecting Maibara Station in Maibara, Shiga to Naoetsu Station in Jōetsu, Niigata. It serves the Hokuriku region on the northern central coast of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, as well as offering connections to the regions of Kansai, Tōkai, Kantō, and Tōhoku.

The line is an important transportation artery along the Sea of Japan coast, because the Shinkansen high-speed network has not yet been extended through the Hokuriku region. The Hokuriku Shinkansen is under construction between Nagano and Kanazawa; the remaining segment onward to Kansai is still in the planning stages. As a result, narrow gauge limited expresses such as the Thunderbird, Raicho, and Shirasagi are common sights along the line.

The Hokuriku Main Line has dual track and is completely electrified: the sections from Maibara to Tsuruga and from Itoigawa to Naoetsu use 1,500 V DC power, while the section from Tsuruga to Itoigawa uses 20 kV AC, 60 Hz power.

JR Freight operates a small branch line for freight from Tsuruga Station to a container facility at the port of Tsuruga.

Basic data[edit]

  • Operators, distances
  • Stations:
    • Passenger stations: 78, including those with freight services
    • Freight terminals: 4
  • Double-track line: From Maibara to Naoetsu
  • Electric supply: From Maibara to Naoetsu
    • From Maibara to Tsuruga: 1,500 V DC
    • From Tsuruga to Itoigawa: 20,000 V AC, 60 Hz
    • From Itoigawa to Naoetsu: 1,500 V DC
  • Railway signalling:
    • From Maibara to Naoetsu: Automatic train control
    • From Tsuruga to Tsuruga-minato: Token system
  • Maximum line speed: 130 km/h
  • CTC center:
    • From Maibara to Ōmi-Shiotsu: Shin-Ōsaka Operation Control Center
    • From Ōmi-Shiotsu to Naoetsu: Kanazawa Operation Control Center
  • CTC system:
    • From Maibara to Ōmi-Shiotsu: Safety Urban Network Traffic System (SUNTRAS)

Stations[edit]

  • For the section between Maibara and Nagahama, see also the Biwako Line article.
  • Rapid or Special Rapid trains from the Urban Network (Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto area) do not skip any of the stations listed below.
Station Japanese Distance
(km)
Transfers Location
Through service to/from Tōkaidō Main Line, further to/from Sanyō Main Line and Akō Line
Hokuriku Line (Biwako Line)
Maibara 米原 0.0 Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Tōkaidō Main Line (Biwako Line)
Ohmi Railway Main Line
Maibara Shiga
Sakata 坂田 2.4
Tamura 田村 4.7 Nagahama
Nagahama 長浜 7.7
Hokuriku Line
Torahime 虎姫 12.8 Nagahama Shiga
Kawake 河毛 15.6
Takatsuki 高月 18.2
Kinomoto 木ノ本 22.4
Yogo 余呉 26.5
Ōmi-Shiotsu 近江塩津 31.4 Kosei Line
Shin-Hikida 新疋田 39.2 Tsuruga Fukui
Tsuruga 敦賀 45.9 Obama Line
Minami-Imajō 南今庄 62.5 Minamiechizen, Nanjō
Imajō 今庄 65.1
Yunoo 湯尾 68.7
Nanjō 南条 72.2
Ōshio 王子保 76.7 Echizen
Takefu 武生 81.0 Fukui Railway Fukubu Line (Echizen-Takefu)
Sabae 鯖江 86.2 Sabae
Kita-Sabae 北鯖江 89.4
Ōdoro 大土呂 94.1 Fukui
Echizen-Hanandō 越前花堂 97.3 Etsumi-Hoku Line
Minami-Fukui Freight Terminal 南福井 98.1
Fukui 福井 99.9 Katsuyama Eiheiji Line, Mikuni Awara Line
Fukui Railway Fukubu Line (Fukui-Ekimae)
Etsumi-Hoku Line
Morita 森田 105.8
Harue 春江 108.1 Sakai
Maruoka 丸岡 111.9
Awaraonsen 芦原温泉 117.6 Awara
Hosorogi 細呂木 121.4
Ushinoya 牛ノ谷 124.5
Daishōji 大聖寺 130.2 Kaga Ishikawa
Kagaonsen 加賀温泉 134.3
Iburihashi 動橋 137.5
Awazu 粟津 142.4 Komatsu
Komatsu 小松 148.2
Meihō 明峰 151.0
Terai 寺井 154.0 Nomi
Komaiko 小舞子 157.0 Hakusan
Mikawa 美川 158.8
Kaga-Kasama 加賀笠間 162.8
Mattō 松任 167.2
Nonoichi 野々市 170.5 Nonoichi
Nishi-Kanazawa 西金沢 172.9 Hokutetsu Ishikawa Line (Shin-Nishi-Kanazawa) Kanazawa
Kanazawa 金沢 176.6 Hokutetsu Asanogawa Line (Hokutetsu-Kanazawa)
Kanazawa Freight Terminal 金沢貨物ターミナル 179.2
Higashi-Kanazawa 東金沢 179.2
Morimoto 森本 182.0
Tsubata 津幡 188.1 Nanao Line Tsubata, Kahoku
Kurikara 倶利伽羅 194.4
Isurugi 石動 201.2 Oyabe Toyama
Fukuoka 福岡 208.4 Takaoka
Nishi-Takaoka 西高岡 211.9
Takaoka 高岡 217.2 Jōhana Line, Himi Line
Manyōsen Takaoka Kidō Line (Takaoka Station)
Etchū-Daimon 越中大門 220.9 Imizu
Kosugi 小杉 224.6
Kureha 呉羽 231.2 Toyama
Toyama 富山 236.0 Toyama Light Rail Toyamakō Line (Toyamaekikita)
Toyama Chiho Railway Main Line (Dentetsu-Toyama), Toyama City Tram Line (Toyama-Ekimae)
Takayama Main Line
Toyama Freight Terminal 富山貨物 238.8
Higashi-Toyama 東富山 242.6
Mizuhashi 水橋 247.5
Namerikawa 滑川 253.0 Toyama Chihō Railway Main Line Namerikawa
Higashi-Namerikawa 東滑川 256.5
Uozu 魚津 261.5 Toyama Chihō Railway Main Line (Shin-Uozu) Uozu
Kurobe 黒部 267.8 Kurobe
Ikuji 生地 271.8
Nishi-Nyūzen 西入善 276.0 Nyūzen, Shimoniikawa
Nyūzen 入善 279.9
Tomari 285.1 Asahi
Etchū-Miyazaki 越中宮崎 289.8
Ichiburi 市振 294.5 Itoigawa Niigata
Oyashirazu 親不知 303.1
Ōmi 青海 308.4
Itoigawa 糸魚川 315.0 Ōito Line
Kajiyashiki 梶屋敷 319.3
Uramoto 浦本 322.8
能生 327.9
Tsutsuishi 筒石 335.4
Nadachi 名立 339.6 Jōetsu
Arimagawa 有間川 343.8
Tanihama 谷浜 347.2
Naoetsu 直江津 353.8 Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line
Shinetsu Main Line

Rolling stock[edit]

A Hoketsu Express 681-2000 series EMU on a Hakutaka limited express service
Biwako Line 221 series EMU

Electric[edit]

Diesel[edit]

Former rolling stock[edit]

History[edit]

The entire line was built by the Japanese Government Railway, with the first section opened being from Nagahama, on the shore of Lake Biwa to Tsuruga in 1882. The Maibara to Nagahama section opened in 1889, and the line was then opened progressively to Fukui (in 1896), Kanazawa (in 1898), and Toyama (in 1899). The next extension opened to Uozu in 1908, and to Tomari in 1910. At the northeastern end, the Naoetsu to Nadachi section opened in 1911, and was extended to Itoigawa the following year. The final section opened in 1913, completing the line.

Double-tracking and realignments[edit]

The initial section double-tracked was between Kanazawa and Tsubata in 1938, with the Maibara to Tsuruga section duplicated between 1957 and 1958. The rest of the line was double-tracked in stages between 1960 and 1969.

There have been three major line deviations. The first between Kinomoto and Tsuruga involving the 5,170 m Fukasaka tunnel opened in 1957 as a new line, with the original line remaining in service until the second new line opened in 1965, including the Shin-fukasaka tunnel at 5,173 m and a spiral section partially in tunnels to ease the ruling grade on the climb from Tsuruga to Biwako.

The second major deviation, between Tsuruga and Imajo opened in 1962 as a dual track line including the 13,870 m Hokuriku tunnel, providing a significantly straighter and faster line as well as avoiding numerous coastal sections vulnerable to disruption during severe weather events.

The third major deviation, the 21 km section between Uramoto and Arimagawa stations, was competed in 1969 as a dual track line, including the 11,353 m Kubiki tunnel, being the final section to be duplicated.

Electrification[edit]

The Tsuruga to Tamura section was electrified in 1957 at 20 kV AC. As Maibara was electrified at 1,500 V DC, steam locomotives hauled trains over the 5 km non-electrified section until it was electrified (at 1,500 V DC, with dual-voltage EMUs being used) in 1962, the year the 20 kV AC electrification was extended to Fukui, extending progressively to Kanazawa (in 1963), Toyama (in 1964), and Itoigawa (in 1965).

The Itoigawa to Naoetsu section was electrified at 1,500 V DC in 1969, whilst in 1991, the Tamura to Nagahama section was changed to 1,500 V DC, this change being extended to Tsuruga in 2006.

Former connecting lines[edit]

  • Takefu Station: The Takeoka Light Railway opened a 7 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Gobuichi in 1914, converting the line to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge in 1924, and extending it 7 km to Tono-guchi. In 1941, the company merged with the Fukui Railway, which electrified the line at 600 V DC in 1948. The last 5 km closed in 1971, and the rest of the line closed in 1981.
  • Sabae Station: The Ura Electric Railway opened a 20 km line, electrified at 600 V DC, to Oda between 1926 and 1929. The line also connected to the Fukubu Line at Mizuochi. The company merged with the Fukui Railway in 1945. As a result of double-tracking work on the Hokuriku Line at Sabae, the section to Mizuochi closed in 1962, with the rest of the line closing in 1973.
  • Maruoka Station: The Maruoka Railway opened a 4 km 762 mm gauge line to Shin-Maruoka in 1915. In 1930, it was regauged to 1,067 mm and electrified at 600 V DC in conjunction with the opening of the Eiheiji Line to Shin-Maruoka from Arawa Onsen. The following year, a 3 km electrified line was opened from Maruoka to Nishi Nagata on the Mikuni Awara Line. The company merged with the Keifuku Railway in 1944, and the entire 7 km line closed in 1968.
  • Arawa Onsen Station: An 8 km line to Mikuni on the Mikuni Awara Line operated between 1911 and 1972.
  • Daishoji Station: A 9 km 915 mm (3 ft) gauge horse-drawn tramway opened to Yamanaka between 1898 and 1900. In 1913, the line was converted to 1,067 mm gauge and electrified. The line closed in 1971.
  • Iburihashi Station: The Hokuriku Railway had two separate lines connecting here:

On the western side of the line, the 3 km line to Katayamazu opened in 1914 as a 915 mm gauge horse-drawn tramway. It was converted to 1,067 mm gauge and electrified in 1922, and closed in 1965. On the eastern side, the 3 km electrified line to Uwano operated between 1911 and 1971.

  • Awazu Station: The Awazu Onsen Railway opened a 4 km 762 mm gauge line to Awazu Onsen in 1911, converting the line to 1,067 mm gauge and electrifying it in 1916. The line closed in 1962.
  • Komatsu Station: A 17 km 762 mm gauge line opened to the Ogoya copper mine between 1919 and 1920. The Meitetsu Railway took over management of the line in 1962, renaming the terminus Ogoya Onsen. The copper mine closed in 1971, and the line closed in 1977.

A 6 km horse-drawn tramway opened in 1906 to serve the Yusenji copper mine. Steam locomotion was introduced the following year, and the mine and line closed in 1918. In 1929, the line was regauged to 1,067 mm, electrified and reopened by the Hakusen Electric Railway, but it was declared bankrupt the following year. The Komatsu Electric Railway purchased the line at the receiver's auction in 1935, and merged with the Hokuriku Railway in 1945. Patronage declined from 2,126,000 in 1967 to 623,000 in 1983, and as a result the line closed in 1986.

  • Terai Station: The Nomi Electric Railway opened a 17 km line, electrified at 600 V DC to Tsurugi on the Hokuriku Railroad Ishikawa Line in 1927. Flooding destroyed the Tedorigawa bridge in 1934, which was replaced nine months later. The company merged with the Hokuriku Railway in 1942. Freight services ceased in 1968, and the line closed in 1980.
  • Matto station: In 1904, the 8 km, 915 mm gauge Matsukane horse-drawn tramway opened to Nomachi on the Hokuriku Railroad Ishikawa Line, and also connected with Nonoichi station on the same line (not the current JR West station of the same name, which opened in 1968), 3 km before the terminus. In 1916, the line was converted to 1,067 mm gauge and electrified at 600 V DC. The line was acquired by the Kanazawa Electric Railway in 1920, which merged with the Hokuriku Railway in 1942. The 3 km Nonoichi to Nomachi section closed in 1944, and the remaining 5 km line closed in 1955.
  • Kanazawa Station: The 5 km 762 mm gauge Jinshi horse-drawn tramway opened in 1898, being converted to 1,067 mm gauge and electrified at 600 V DC in 1914. In 1920, the line was extended to Ono Port, and a further 2 km to Ono Minato in 1923. A 400m branch to Ryokuchi Park opened in 1930, passenger services on the branch ceasing in 1945 though the line remained to service a paper mill. The entire system closed in 1970.
  • Isurugi Station: The Tonami Railway opened a 7 km line to Tsuzawa in 1915, and merged with the Kaetsu Railway in 1919, which extended the line 13 km to Shogawa-Cho in 1922, including a connection to the Johana Line at Fukuno. The line closed in 1972.
  • Kurobe Station: The Toyo Aluminium Company planned to build Japan's first aluminium refinery near Kurobe, and in 1922 opened a line electrified at 600 V DC to the proposed refinery site. The refinery did not proceed, so the company extended the line to Ishida Minato to serve an Onsen. The line closed in 1940.

Future developments[edit]

The Hokuriku Shinkansen extension, from Nagano to Kanazawa scheduled to open in March 2015, approximately parallels the route of the Hokuriku Main Line. With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, control of local passenger services on the sections of the Hokuriku Main Line running through Ishikawa, Toyama, and Niigata prefectures will be transferred to the following three third-sector operating companies owned by the respective prefectures.[1]

References[edit]

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