Kintetsu Utsube Line
|Kintetsu Utsube Line|
260 series train at Hinaga Station
|Opening||October 6, 1912|
|Line length||5.7 km (3.5 mi)|
|No. of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||762 mm (2 ft 6 in)|
|Electrification||750 V DC, Overhead line|
The Kintetsu Utsube Line (近鉄内部線 Kintetsu Utsube-sen?) is a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge railway line operated by the Japanese private railway company Kintetsu, connecting Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station and Utsube Station, both in the city of Yokkaichi, Mie, Japan.
The line connects (indirectly) with the Kintetsu Nagoya Line and Kintetsu Yunoyama Line at Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station; these other lines use an elevated platform whereas the Utsube Line uses a ground-level platform. At Hinaga Station, the line connects with the Kintetsu Hachiōji Line, a one-station branch line. Because all trains on the Hachiōji Line offer direct service to Kintetsu-Yokkaichi via the Utsube Line, the two lines are collectively called the Utsube-Hachiōji Line (内部・八王子線 Utsube-Hachiōji-sen?).
Narrow gauge railway
The line was originally built as a tram and so the track gauge was especially narrow. Later on the line was legally upgraded from a tram to a light rail, however the gauge was not widened as it was on the vast majority of Japan's train lines. Today, there are only four 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge train lines in operation in Japan.
- 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) railways of Japan
- Kintetsu: Utsube Line (this line)
- Kintetsu: Hachiōji Line (neighboring branch line)
- Sangi Railway: Hokusei Line (also in northern Mie Prefecture, formerly operated by Kintetsu)
- Kurobe Gorge Railway: Main Line (Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture)
- "Local" (普通 Futsū?) services stop at every station.
- All trains are wanman driver only operation.
- Trains run four times per hour. In the down direction, each hour there are two bound for Utsube and two for Nishihino (via the Hachiōji Line)
|Kintetsu Yokkaichi||近鉄四日市||0.0||Kintetsu Nagoya Line, Kintetsu Yunoyama Line||Yokkaichi||Mie Prefecture|
|Hinaga||日永||1.8||Kintetsu Hachiōji Line|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2012)|
The Utsube Line was originally conceived and built by the Mie Tramway (三重軌道 Mie Kidō?), later renamed Mie Railway (Santetsu). The original portion of the line was completed in 1912 making it one of Kintetsu's oldest train lines. In 1916, an extension from the line's origin, Kintetsu-Yokkaichi (at that time called Suwa Station and located slightly to the east), to what is now JR Central Yokkaichi was added. However, this extension had a relatively short life as it was sold off in 1927 to Ise Electric Railway (Iseden) for use in their main line. This made Suwa Station, a hub between three different private railways and the biggest station in Yokkaichi, the origin again. Steam locomotives ran on the line for many years until 1928 when gasoline-powered trains were introduced, which ran until the line was electrified in 1943.
The line originally included the Hachiōji Line and ended at Ise-Hachiōji Station. However an extension to Suzuka was planned to originate from Hinaga Station and construction began in 1922, ten years after the original opening. However, this new portion of the line was only completed as far as Utsube in Yokkaichi because legal permission to continue construction of the train line was revoked. The original portion of the line, starting at Suwa, down to the end of never-to-be-finished Suzuka branch became the "Utsube Line", and the portion of track which included the old endpoint at Ise-Hachiōji became a branch line called the "Hachiōji Line".
Ownership of the line has shifted a few times during its existence. Mie Tramway built the line in 1912 but control was given to Santetsu shortly after in 1916. Then in 1944, Santetsu, along with six other companies, merged to form Mie Transport (Sanco). During the later part of the Santetsu era and the entire Sanco era, there was direct service offered between the now-separate Utsube Line and Yunoyama Line, which at that time was also a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge railway; the combination of these two train lines was called the Mie Line. In 1964, the railway department of Sanco split off to become a separate company called Mie Electric Railway (Sanden), however this organization was short-lived as it was bought up by railway giant Kintetsu the following year, and thus in 1965 the line came under its current name and ownership.
In 1954 the initial portion of the route was re-routed by Sanco, the owner at that time, who planned the re-routing because of Kintetsu's plan to re-route its Kintetsu Nagoya Line, which suffered from many sharp curves on its way through Yokkaichi to Suwa Station. Kintetsu developed a plan to straighten the Nagoya Line as well as enlarge Suwa Station, which would be moved about a kilometer to the west; construction began in 1952 and took a few years to complete. In accordance with this plan, Sanco altered its own Yokkaichi-area railways in 1956 to utilize the new location of Suwa Station, which was renamed to Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station. From Akahori Station, the track that ran to the old Suwa Station was closed and a new track was built to Kintetsu-Yokkaichi. At first, the direct connection with the Yunoyama Line was maintained however in 1964, the Yunoyama Line was altered and renovated to connect directly with the Nagoya Line and thus the connection with the Utsube Line was closed and direct service ended.
- October 6, 1912 - Minami-Hamada (now closed) to Hinaga section opens (Mie Tramway).
- May 16, 1913 - Suwa to Minami-Hamada section opens.
- July 19, 1916 - Control of line is transferred to Mie Railway (Santetsu).
- March 30, 1916 - Yokkaichi (Kokutetsu) to Suwa section opens. Yokkaichi becomes origin of the line.
- December 1, 1916 - Based on train-related laws, the line's classification is officially changed from a tram to a light railway.
- January 10, 1922 - Hinanga to Ogoso section opens (Suzuka extension).
- June 21, 1922 - Ogoso to Utsube section opens. Utsube becomes the terminus of the line.
- November 29, 1927 - Yokkaichi to Suwa section closes. Suwa becomes the starting point of the line.
- March 1, 1928 - Gasoline-powered trains are introduced.
- March 1, 1931 - Santetsu acquires Yokkaichi Railway and what is now the Kintetsu Yunoyama Line. Direct connection with the Yunoyama Line opens.
- December 25, 1943 - The entire line is electrified.
- February 11, 1944 - Santetsu and six other companies merge to form Mie Transport (Sanco). The line is officially renamed the Sanco Mie Line.
- July 1, 1944 - Ogoso Station closes.
- November 1, 1944 - Minami-Hamada Station closes.
- September 23, 1956 - Suwa Station closed, moved, and re-opened as Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station. The section between Suwa and Akahori closes. The section between Kintetsu-Yokkaichi and Akahori opens.
- December 23, 1956 - The voltage is increased from 600 V DC to 750 V DC.
- May 1, 1959 - Ogoso Station re-opens.
- August 24, 1959 - Electronic signal station added between Kintetsu-Yokkaichi and Akahori.
- February 1, 1964 - Sanco railway division splits off and forms a new company Mie Electric Railway (Sanden).
- March 23, 1964 - Connection with the Yunoyama Line is severed and direct service ends.
- April 1, 1965 - Sanden, and all of its lines, are acquired by Kintetsu. The line is officially renamed the Kintetsu Utsube Line.
- March 17, 1989 - Electronic signalling added to entire line. ATS System is introduced.
- June 1, 1989 - Wan man driver only operation begins.
In August 2012, Kintetsu announced its wishes to close both the Utsube and Hachioji Lines, with plans to convert the trackbed into a dedicated bus route. The two lines together lose approximately 300 million annually. A formal decision is scheduled to be made by spring 2013.
- Kintetsu Line Archives - Utsube Line (Japanese)
- "近鉄:内部線・八王子線の鉄路廃止、跡地にバス運行 三重". Mainichi jp (in Japanese). Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.