Sakurajima Line

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  P   Sakurajima Line
(JR Yumesaki Line)
JNR103-USJ.JPG
103 series EMU with Universal City promotional vinyls at Nishikujo Station
Overview
Type Heavy rail
Status Operating
Locale Konohana-ku, Osaka
Termini Nishikujō
Sakurajima
Stations 4
Operation
Opening April 5, 1898 (first section)
April 25, 1961 (current form)
Owner JR West
Operator(s) JR West, JR Freight
Rolling stock 103 series, 201 series
Technical
Track length 4.1 km (2.5 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC
Operating speed 95 km/h (60 mph)

The Sakurajima Line (桜島線 Sakurajima-sen?) is a railway line in Osaka, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) running from Nishikujō Station to Sakurajima Station. It is also referred to as the JR Yumesaki Line (JRゆめ咲線?). The entire line lies within Konohana-ku, Osaka, and connects the Osaka Loop Line to Universal Studios Japan.

The nickname "Yumesaki Line" was determined in a public poll upon the opening of Universal Studios Japan and the Universal City station. While it was not the number one choice, its pleasant sound together with the vision of the area around the Sakurajima Line and USJ being a place where Osaka's dreams were continuing to be born made it the perfect choice.

The line is used primarily by a mix of factory workers and tourists. There is also freight traffic running between Suita and Ajikawaguchi.

Stations[edit]

Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers
Nishikujō 西九条 0.0 Osaka Loop Line, Hanshin Namba Line
Ajikawaguchi 安治川口 2.4  
Universal City ユニバーサルシティ 3.2  
Sakurajima 桜島 4.1  

Service[edit]

In addition to trains that run only within the Sakurajima Line itself, there is also direct service from Tennōji, Kyōbashi, and Osaka stations that alternates during non-peak times. Also, during peak travel seasons, seasonal trains (such as the Universal Express limited express service) will run through to/from the Hokuriku Main Line. However, as the number of visitors to USJ has been on the decline in recent years, those special trains are only rarely used.

In order to transport riders from USJ smoothly in the event of an accident, trains can be run on a single track along the section from Nishikujō to Universal City. In other words, in the event of an accident on the outbound track, the inbound track can be used for service in both directions. Because of that there are signals mounted in both directions at each station.

In addition, while Universal Express trains make their final stop at Universal City, there is no way for them to switch directions at that station. They must proceed to Sakurajima and then switch directions there.

History[edit]

Originally the Nishikujō – Sakurajima section was not an independent line, but part of the Nishinari Line, which was originally the private Nishinari Railway. A portion of the Nishinari Line became a part of the Osaka Loop Line when it was completed in 1961, with the rest becoming the Sakurajima Line. With the purpose of providing a commuter route for workers in factories along the line as well as for freight, off-peak daytime hours were quiet along the line. This continued until the construction of USJ, which made tourists the main users of the line.

From the end of operations on the Katsuki Line on April 1, 1985 until the beginning of service on the Miyazaki Kūkō Line on July 18, 1996, the Sakurajima Line was the shortest passenger line among the JR Group companies. (Including freight lines, the shortest at the time was the Shinminato Line in Toyama Prefecture.)

Before the move of Sakurajima Station on April 1, 1999, along the Ajikawaguchi to Sakurajima segment there was a movable bridge over the Hokkō Canal. Although there were few instances when the bridge was flooded and service had to be halted, the canal was filled in the 1990s and the bridge has been unused.

When service began at Universal City Station, there were some protests by local residents and business owners to open a new station ("Haruhinode Station") between Nishikujō and Ajikawaguchi stations. However, not enough demand was forecast and plans were shelved.

Chronology[edit]

Disaster at Ajikawaguchi, 1940
  • April 5, 1898: Nishinari Railway from Osaka to Ajikawaguchi (5.79 km) opens
  • December 1, 1904: Leased by Railway Operation Bureau
  • April 1, 1905: Ajikawaguchi - Tenpōzan section (1.61 km) opens; leased at same time
  • December 1, 1906: Nationalized by JGR
  • October 12, 1909: Line named "Nishinari Line" by JGR
  • April 15, 1910: Sakurajima Station opens; Sakurajima - Tenpozan section demolished
  • May 1, 1934: Gasoline multiple unit (MU) service begins, using KiHa 42000 train cars
  • January 29, 1940: Gasoline MU derailment and fire at Ajikawaguchi station kills 189 and injures 69
  • May 1, 1941: Osaka - Sakurajima section electrified (1,500 V DC).
  • November 21, 1943: Freight branch line established between Ajikawaguchi and Osaka
  • April 25, 1961: Osaka Loop Line service begins; Nishi-kujo - Sakurajima section separated and renamed the "Sakurajima Line"
  • March 1, 1966: Sakurajima Station relocated 0.5 km east
  • November 15, 1982: Freight branch line between Ajikawaguchi and Osaka Hokukō abolished
  • April 1, 1987: With the privatization of JNR, Sakurajima Line becomes part of JR West
  • April 1, 1999: Ajikawaguchi - Sakurajima section moved to avoid planned USJ theme park; Sakurajima Station moved 0.1 km west
  • May 9, 1999: Through operation from Osaka Loop Line stopped due to construction of Universal City Station
  • March 1, 2001: Universal City Station opens; Sakurajima Line also referred to as "JR Yumesaki Line" by JR West
  • March 3, 2001: Through operation from Osaka Loop Line restarts
  • December 16, 2005: 201 series trains enter service
  • October 1, 2008: All station platforms become non-smoking; designated smoking areas on platforms are abolished (concourse smoking rooms were removed in October 2003)

Rolling stock[edit]

Current[edit]

Passenger[edit]

Because the Sakurajima Line is the main access route for USJ, 103 series and 201 series 8-car trains are decorated with USJ advertisements, although previously 103 series 6-car trains also featured USJ-related wrap advertising.

Freight[edit]

Former[edit]

Extension plans[edit]

On September 10, 2009, the then Governor of Osaka Prefecture Tōru Hashimoto announced that he was examining a 4 km extension of the Sakurajima Line from Sakurajima to Trade Center-mae on the Nankō Port Town Line (New Tram).[1] This would to improve access to the World Trade Center (WTC) in Suminoe-ku, to which the governor is considering moving the prefectural government offices. Traveling from Osaka Station to the WTC requires at least 30 minutes, and this inconvenience is considered a major obstacle to any move. Although the prefecture is willing to foot at least part of the estimated construction cost of 100 billion yen, there has been no discussion yet of the effect on travel patterns with existing transit agencies/companies.

Of the estimated 4 km length of the extension, approximately 3 km would be underground. Travel times between Osaka and the WTC are expected to drop to 20 minutes if completed.

References[edit]

External links[edit]