221 series EMU on a Miyakoji Rapid service
|Rolling stock||103 series, 221 series|
|Line length||34.7 km (21.6 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)|
|Electrification||1,500 V DC overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||110 km/h (68 mph) (double-track)
95 km/h (59 mph) (single-track)
The Nara Line (奈良線 Nara-sen?) is a commuter rail line in the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area, operated by the West Japan Railway Company (JR West). Its official termini are Kizu Station in Kizugawa and Kyōto Station in Kyoto, within Kyoto Prefecture; however, all trains continue past Kizu on the Yamatoji Line (Kansai Main Line) to Nara Station in Nara, Nara Prefecture.
The Nara Line is a part of the JR West Urban Network in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area. Its primary role is that of an intercity-suburban commuter line, ferrying people to and from work and school in Kyoto and Nara; it is also well-used by foreign tourists holding the Japan Rail Pass, as visiting the historical landmarks of Uji and Nara makes an easy day-trip from Kyoto. At Kyoto, the line connects to the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, the Tōkaidō Main Line (Biwako Line / JR Kyoto Line), and the San'in Main Line (Sagano Line), while at Kizu, it connects to the Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line) for Kamo, and the Katamachi Line (Gakkentoshi Line) for Kyōbashi Station in Osaka. At Nara, travelers can change trains to continue westward to Hōryūji and JR Namba.
As Kintetsu operates a "Nara Line" of its own, the line is often referred to as the "JR Nara Line" ("JNR Nara Line" prior to 1988). Strictly speaking, the Kintetsu Nara Line links Osaka and Nara (a counterpart to the Yamatoji Line), rather than Kyoto and Nara (connected primarily by the Kintetsu Kyoto Line). However, there are many through trains to the Kintetsu Nara Line from Kyōto Station, so "JR" is often appended for clarity. This was aided by the 1988 introduction of the official nicknames "JR Kyoto Line", "JR Kobe Line" (for parts of the Tōkaidō Main Line and San'yō Main Line) and "JR Takarazuka Line" (southern half of the Fukuchiyama Line) within the Urban Network, making the "JR Nara Line" construction a natural parallel, if unofficial, usage.
Since the formation of JR West in 1988, the line has been under the jurisdiction of the Tennoji Railway Operations Office in Osaka, and its trains use the Osaka Branch's rail yards in Nara. On the other hand, the stations themselves (apart from Kizu) are administered by the Kyoto Branch of JR West.
The official line color used on JR West route maps and station guides is brown (■).
The entirety of the line is part of the Greater Osaka Metropolitan Area. As such, all stations are outfitted with card readers for ICOCA and compatible smart fare-cards; however, Nagaike – Kamikoma are unmanned, and have only simplified automatic ticket gates. Apart from a few stations, the J-Through Card (a prepaid, single-charge fare card) can be used in lieu of cash to buy passenger tickets.
While Kizu is properly the "up" (上り nobori?) end of the line, the Kansai Main Line's historically greater importance with respect to the Nara Line means that it is treated as "down" (下り kudari?). Thus, trains bound for Nara are "down" trains, and those bound for Kyoto are "up", according to the direction they travel on the Yamatoji Line between Kizu and Nara. Except where noted, this article adheres to the same convention.
The Nara Line proper runs from Kyōto Station to Kizu Station, and lies entirely within Kyoto Prefecture; it has no trackage whatsoever in Nara Prefecture. However, the line was originally built by Nara Railway between Kyoto Station and Nara Station; it was only later, after merging with Kansai Railway, that the section between Kizu and Nara became a part of the Osaka – Nagoya route and was officially made a separate line.
Of course, the Nara Line service runs between Nara and Kyōto stations, and is treated as such by passenger announcements and route maps. Thus, even while operating on the Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line), trains to and from Kyoto are considered as being on the "Nara Line".
- This chart is arranged in the "down" direction (Kyoto → Nara), according to the direction of the Kansai Main Line.
- The number in parentheses next to a subway station name is the station number.
- ： a "station within Kyoto" designated for passenger tickets used with limited-express or Shinkansen tickets. A ticketholder whose destination is marked Kyōto-shinai (京都市内?, lit. "within Kyoto city limits") may continue on to any of these stations for no additional charge.
- Stopping patterns:
- Local trains stop at all stations (not shown on chart)
- Other designations: ● Stop; ｜Pass
- Miyakoji Rapid: ○ Stop only during the New Year holiday (1–4 January)
- ∥: Double-track section; ◇: Single-track section; ∨: Double-track section ends; ∧: Double-track section begins
（trains can pass each other at all stations in single-track sections）
- ∥: Double-track section; ◇: Single-track section; ∨: Double-track section ends; ∧: Double-track section begins
|Line name||Station||Japanese||Distance (km)||Regional Rapid
|Nara Line||Kyōto||京都||-||0.0||●||●||●||Tōkaidō Main Line (Biwako Line, JR Kyoto Line), Kosei Line,[* 4] San'in Main Line (Sagano Line)
Kintetsu Kyoto Line
Karasuma Line (K11)
|Tōfukuji||東福寺||1.1||1.1||●||●||●||Keihan Main Line||∥||Higashiyama, Kyoto|
|Rokujizō||六地蔵||2.4||9.6||●||●||●||Kyoto Municipal Subway Tōzai Line (T01)
Keihan Uji Line
|Ōbaku||黄檗||1.4||12.0||｜||｜||｜||Keihan: Uji Line||◇|
|Shinden||新田||1.8||18.1||●||●||｜||Kintetsu Kyoto Line (Ōkubo)||∨|
|Yamashiro-Taga||山城多賀||1.3||25.3||●||｜||｜||◇||Ide, Tsuzuki District|
|Kizu||木津||1.6||34.7||●||●||●||Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line), Katamachi Line (Gakkentoshi Line)||∧|
|Kansai Main Line|
|Nara||奈良||3.8||41.7||●||●||●||Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line), Sakurai Line (Man-yō Mahoroba Line)||∥|
- The Kosei line's official terminus is Yamashina Station on the Tōkaidō Main Line (Biwako Line), but all trains continue through to Kyoto.
- Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line) Rapid Service and Yamatoji Rapid stop; Gakkentoshi Line Rapid Service stop
- Uji City is considering the possibility of a new station between Ōbaku and Uji (cf. Mimurodo Station on the Keihan Uji Line.)
- Of these stations, Kizu, Uji, Rokujizō, and Kyoto are directly operated by JR West; Yamashiro-Taga is unmanned; Kamikoma and Tanakura are staffed part-time; and the remainder are staffed by JR West Transportation Services.
Numbers in parentheses are the distance from Kyoto Station. The portion between Kyoto and Fushimi is now part of the Kintetsu Kyoto Line.
All trains are based at Nara Depot.
- 221 series EMU
- Also operated on the Yamatoji Line and Osaka Loop Line, there are 2-, 4-, and 6-car trainsets. 4- and 6-car trainsets are mainly used for Miyakoji Rapid, Rapid Service, and Regional Rapid, though on the Nara Line, the majority of trains are 4 cars. Two 2-car trains coupled together can be seen during weekend and holiday timetables.
- 103 series EMU
- 4-car 103 series trains are used not only as local trains on the Nara Line and the Yamatoji Line, but can be seen coupled together as 8-car trains during rush hour on the Osaka Loop Line, and as Regional Rapid trains on the Yamatoji Line. Some of the carriages have been replaced by those transferred from the Morinomiya Depot.
The Nara Line was originally constructed from Kyoto to Nara by Nara Railway, but at the time of its completion, the Kyoto – Momoyama section ran via the route now used by the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. In 1921, on the day that the Tōkaidō Main Line was re-routed from its original path to the new Baba (Zeze) – Kyoto alignment via the Higashiyama Tunnel, the Kyoto – Inari portion of the old route became part of the Nara Line, and new track was laid between Inari and Momoyama. At the same time, the original Kyoto – Fushimi alignment was abandoned, and the Fushimi – Momoyama section became freight-only. Later on, the old right-of-way from Kyoto to Fushimi was sold off to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line's predecessor, Nara Electric Railway.
After the Nara Electric Railway line opened in 1928, its frequency of service and drastically reduced transit time took away much of the demand for through-service between the Tokaido Main Line and the Nara Line. In the 1950s, the Nara Line was among the earliest of the JNR lines to be converted from steam locomotives to diesel multiple unit trainsets, and new stations were opened; after that, however, not much capital was spent on the line, and was not until 1984 that it was finally electrified. In short, it was treated entirely as a local line, rather than as an intercity commuter corridor. The turning point for the Nara Line was only after Japanese National Railways was privatized, and it became part of the JR West network. An article in the Asahi Shimbun from 1991, the same year as JR announced it would be pumping capital into the Nara Line, described the perceived cause for this sudden interest as follows: "During [the previous year's] string of visits by the new Emperor and Empress, their Majesties arrived in Kyoto via JR Central's Tōkaidō Shinkansen, then immediately boarded the Kintetsu line for Nara, ignoring the local JR West trains entirely."
- August 18, 1879: Kyoto – Inari – Ōtani opened as part of the Government-Operated Railway (later the Tōkaidō Main Line). Inari Station opens.
- September 5, 1895: Nara Railway opens between Kyoto and Fushimi (3 mi. 23 ch. ≒ 5.29 km). Fushimi Station opens. Kyoto Station is operated in conjunction with the Government Railway.
- November 3, 1895: Fushimi – Momoyama extension (1 mi. 9 ch. ≒ 2.19 km) opens. Momoyama Station opens.
- January 25, 1896: Momoyama – Tamamizu extension (12 mi. 46 ch. ≒ 20.24 km) opens. Kohata, Uji, Shinden, Nagaike, Tamamizu Stations open.
- March 13, 1896: Tamamizu – Kizu extension (4 mi. 50 ch. ≒ 7.44 km) opens. Tanakura, Kizu Stations open.
- April 18, 1896: Kizu - Nara section opens; entire Kyoto – Nara line complete.
- April 21, 1896: Tōji Temporary Station opens.
- April 1, 1897: Nara Railway Kyoto Station renamed Shichijō Station.
- May 3, 1902: Kamikoma Station opens.
- November 12, 1902: Operating distance units changed from a combination of miles and chains to miles only (21 mi. 48 ch. → 21.6 mi.).
- February 7, 1905: Nara Railway cedes its track to Kansai Railway.
- October 1, 1907: Kansai Railway is nationalized in accordance with the Railway Nationalization Act.
- August 1, 1908: Shichijō Station merged with Kyoto Station.
- October 12, 1909: Kizu – Kyoto officially designated as the "Nara Line".
- December 19, 1910: Ujigawa Signal Station installed between Kohata and Uji Stations.
- June 20, 1913: Hachijō Signal Station is added between Tōji Temporary Station and Kyoto Station.
- November 5, 1913: Ujigawa Signal Station is abandoned.
- July 23, 1914: Tōji Temporary Station between Fushimi and Kyoto is abandoned.
- August 15, 1914: Hachijō Signal Station abandoned.
- March 20, 1921: Ujigawa Signal Station is added once more between Kohata and Uji Stations.
- August 1, 1921: The Nara Line's Kyoto – Fushimi alignment (3.3 mi. ≒ 5.31 km) is abandoned. The remaining Fushimi - Momoyama section (1.1 mi. ≒ 1.77 km) is closed to passenger traffic. The Tōkaidō Main Line's old Kyoto – Inari alignment (1.8 mi. ≒ 2.90 km), made obsolete after the opening of the Higashiyama Tunnel, is appropriated for the Nara Line. New track (2.6 mi. ≒ 4.18 km) is laid between Inari and Momoyama Stations.
- April 1, 1922: Ujigawa Signal Station (宇治川信号所 Ujigawa Shingōsho?) renamed Ujigawa Signal Box (宇治川新号場 Ujigawa Shingōjō?).
- February 13, 1926: Aodani Bairin Temporary Station opens.
- April 1, 1926: Ujigawa Signal Box abandoned.
- September 3, 1928: Momoyama – Fushimi freight branch closed. Fushimi Station abandoned.
- April 1, 1930: Operating distance units changed to the metric system (21.6 mi. → 34.7 km).
- December 2, 1933: Aodani Bairin Temporary Station made permanent and renamed Yamashiro-Aodani.
- July 15, 1955: Yamashiro-Taga Station opens.
- December 27, 1957: Tōfukuji Station opens.
- July 11, 1958: Jōyō Station opens.
- April 21, 1961: Ōbaku Station opens.
- March 2, 1982: Centralized traffic control (CTC) introduced to the line.
- October 1, 1984: Electrification of the line (Kyoto – Kizu). Operations switched to 105 series and 113 series trainsets. Kinokawa Express service (Kyoto–Wakayama) is ended.
- April 1, 1987: Japanese National Railways (JNR) is privatized and divided; the Nara Line is dealt to the newly formed West Japan Railway Company (JR West). JR Freight becomes a Category-2 operator.
- March 16, 1991: Rapid Service introduced, using 117 series trainsets. The only stop at the time of introduction is Uji, with Inari as a temporary addition during the New Year holiday.
- October 22, 1992: Rokujizō Station opens. Jōyō becomes a Rapid-Service stop.
- March 1994: 113-series trainsets retired from the line.
- September 4, 1994： 105 series trainsets retired from the line (moved mainly to Sakurai Line and Wakayama Line service).
- March 8, 1997: JR Fujinomori Station opens.
- May 10, 1999: Rokujizō becomes a Rapid Service stop.
- March 3, 2001: Kyoto - JR Fujinomori, Uji - Shinden sections double-tracked. JR Ogura Station opens. Regional Rapid Service begins. Miyakoji Rapid Service introduced, using 221 series trainsets; 117 series trainsets retired from the line.
- October 1, 2001: Tōfukuji becomes a Regional Rapid and Rapid-Service stop.
- March 15, 2003: Tōfukuji and Tamamizu become Miyakoji Rapid stops; Tamamizu becomes a Rapid-Service stop.
- April 1, 2003: JR Freight ceases Category-2 operation on the line.
- 2008: ATS-P installed on the line.
- June 1, 2008: All limited expresses and liners made non-smoking.
- July 1, 2008: All stations made non-smoking.
Report No. 8 from the 2004 Kinki Transportation Commission, "Projects contributing to the improvement of services through strengthening transport capacity, etc." (輸送力の強化等によるサービス向上に資する事業 Yusōryoku no kyōka nado ni yoru sābisu kōjō ni shi-suru jigyō?), included track duplication on the JR Fujinomori – Uji and Shinden – Kizu sections of the Nara Line. As double-tracking work on the San'in Main Line (Sagano Line) between Kyoto and Sonobe will be completed in March 2010, JR West and Kyoto Prefecture have agreed to start conferring with regards to track duplication of the Nara Line; they are due to begin discussing matters such as costs, funding burdens, and right-of-way acquisition with municipalities along the line starting in April 2010.
However, due to the financial conditions of these local governments, as well as JR West's own situation, it is likely that the line will be double-tracked only in certain sections, not the entire line. Moreover, it is anticipated that construction will face a timeframe similar to that of the Sagano Line: even if construction begins in 2011, the duplication project will not be finished until 2018 at the earliest.
- 「JR奈良線、次々とテコ入れ策 初の快速や増便計画」 (JR Nara Line to be successively shored up; first ever rapid-service, increased runs.) Asahi Shimbun, 1991-01-07, evening edition
- 在来線特急列車などの全席禁煙化ならびに在来線ホームの禁煙化の拡大について - JR West press release, 2009-03-26
- ＪＲ奈良線、１１年にも複線化着手 府、１０年度に計画策定 (JR Nara Line to begin double-track construction in 2011; Prefecture to decide schedule during FY 2010) - Kyoto Shimbun, 2010-01-22.
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