Jōetsu Line

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     Jōetsu Line
Type Heavy rail
Locale Gunma, Niigata prefectures
Termini Takasaki
Stations 34
Opening 1920
Operator(s) JR East
Line length 162.6 km (101.03 mi)
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Route map
JR Jōetsu Line linemap.svg

The Jōetsu Line (上越線 Jōetsu-sen?) is a major railway line in Japan, owned by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It connects Takasaki Station in Gunma Prefecture with Miyauchi Station in Niigata Prefecture, linking the northwestern Kantō region and the Sea of Japan coast of the Chūbu region. The name refers to the old provinces of Kōzuke (野) and Echigo (後), which the line connects.


Before the opening of the Jōetsu Shinkansen in 1982, the Jōetsu Line had frequent service by express trains connecting Tokyo and Niigata. With the opening of the Jōetsu Shinkansen, however, the line became dominated by local and freight trains.

The branch of the Jōetsu Shinkansen between Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Gala-Yuzawa Station (the Gala-Yuzawa Line) technically belongs to the Jōetsu Line.


Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
Takasaki 高崎 - 0.0 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Nagano Shinkansen, Takasaki Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Hachikō Line, Shin'etsu Main Line
Jōshin Dentetsu: Jōshin Line
Takasaki Gunma
Takasakitonyamachi 高崎問屋町 2.8 2.8  
Ino 井野 1.2 4.0  
Shin-Maebashi 新前橋 3.3 7.3 Ryōmō Line Maebashi
Gumma-Sōja 群馬総社 4.8 12.1  
Yagihara 八木原 5.6 17.7   Shibukawa
Shibukawa 渋川 3.4 21.1 Agatsuma Line
Shikishima 敷島 6.4 27.5  
Tsukuda 津久田 3.0 30.5  
Iwamoto 岩本 5.8 36.3   Numata
Numata 沼田 5.0 41.3  
Gokan 後閑 5.2 46.5   Minakami, Tone District
Kamimoku 上牧 7.1 53.6  
Minakami 水上 5.4 59.0  
Yubiso 湯檜曽 3.7 62.7  
Doai 土合 6.6 69.3  
Tsuchitaru 土樽 10.8 80.1   Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District Niigata
Echigo-Nakazato 越後中里 7.3 87.4  
Iwappara-Ski-jō-mae 岩原スキー場前 3.7 91.1  
Echigo-Yuzawa 越後湯沢 3.1 94.2 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Jōetsu Line (for Gala-Yuzawa)
Ishiuchi 石打 6.4 100.6   Minamiuonuma
Ōsawa 大沢 4.0 104.6  
Jōetsu-Kokusai-Ski-jō-mae 上越国際スキー場前 1.0 105.6  
Shiozawa 塩沢 2.3 107.9  
Muikamachi 六日町 3.9 111.8 Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line
Itsukamachi 五日町◇ 6.6 118.4  
Urasa 浦佐 5.5 123.9 Jōetsu Shinkansen
Yairo 八色 3.1 127.0  
Koide 小出 5.2 132.2 Tadami Line Uonuma
Echigo-Horinouchi 越後堀之内 2.5 134.7  
Kita-Horinouchi 北堀之内 3.4 138.1  
Echigo-Kawaguchi 越後川口 4.7 142.8 Iiyama Line Nagaoka
Ojiya 小千谷 6.6 149.4   Ojiya
Echigo-Takiya 越後滝谷 7.2 156.6   Nagaoka
Miyauchi 宮内 6.0 162.6 Shinetsu Main Line (for Naoetsu)
Through to Nagaoka on the Shinetsu Main Line
Nagaoka 長岡 1.6 165.6 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Shinetsu Main Line (for Niigata) Nagaoka Niigata


The Nippon Railway Co. opened the Takasaki to Maebashi (now Shinmaebashi) section in 1884. The company was nationalised in 1906.

The first railway between Niigata and the east coast of Honshu was the Ban'etsu West Line, completed in 1914. In 1920, it was decided to build the Jōetsu Line as a more direct route between Tokyo and Niigata. The Miyauchi to Echigo-Yuzawa section opened in stages between 1920 and 1925, and the Shinmaebashi to Minakami section of the line opened in stages between 1921 and 1928.

In 1931, with the completion of the 9,702 m Shimizu tunnel, the Echigo-Yuzawa - Minakami section of the line opened, including electrification at 1,500 V DC between Echigo-Yuzawa and Ishiuchi. When completed, the line shortened the Ueno to Niigata route by 98 km, and included two spiral sections in the tunnels.

In 1947, the Takasaki to Minakami and Ishiuchi to Miyauchi sections were electrified, making this one of the first non-urban JNR lines to be completely electrified.

The Takasaki to Shinmaebashi section was double-tracked in 1957, and the rest of the line was double-tracked between 1961 and 1967, the final section involving the construction of the 13,500 m Arashimizu tunnel. Passengers catching Miyauchi-bound trains at Yubiso and Doai stations do so from platforms situated within the Arashimizu tunnel.

Former connecting lines[edit]

  • Shibukawa station - A series of lines were centred on this station, all except the Ikaho line started as horse-drawn tramways built by individual companies, some of which subsequently amalgamated with others and which were upgraded over time to electrified lines (600 VDC, except the Numata line which was 550 VDC) providing freight as well as passenger services. As the ownership detail is complex, the final ownership is given here. The Tobu Co. lines were closed in 1935 and replaced by buses, but fuel shortages resulted in the lines being reopened in 1937. They were severely damaged by a bombing raid on the Shibukawa area in 1945, and returned to service by 1948:

- Tobu Co. Maebashi line, situated to the east of the Joestsu line (once it was built), opened 1890 as a 15km 762mm (2'6") gauge line, electrified and converted to 1067mm (3'6") gauge in 1910, closed 1954.

- Tobu Co. Takasaki line, situated to the west of the Joestsu line (once it was built), opened 1893 as a 21km 576mm (~1'11") gauge line, electrified and converted to 1067mm gauge in 1910, closed 1953.

- Tobu Co. Ikaho line, opened 1910 as a 13km 1067mm gauge electrified line climbing 697m at an average grade of 4.2% and a maximum grade of 5.7%, and requiring four switchbacks. The line closed in 1956.

- Tokyo Electric Co. Numata (later Nakanojo) line, opened 1912 as a 21km 762mm gauge line, electrified in 1918. In 1925, following the opening of the adjacent Joetsu line, the 18km section beyond Koisawa was closed and an 18km line to Nakanojo opened. The entire line closed in 1934.

Service disruptions[edit]

The 2004 Chūetsu earthquake seriously damaged the Jōetsu Line, closing the Minakami to Miyauchi section for about two months. Single-line operation at speeds limited to 30-45 km/h then resumed, being raised to 45-65 km/h four months after the earthquake, and the second track reopened, also with speed restrictions, 5 months after the quake. Full service was restored 9 months after the line had first closed.

In late July 2011, torrential rainfall damage resulted in the closure of the Echigo-Yuzawa - Muikamachi section for two weeks.


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

External links[edit]