Shinano Railway Line

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Shinano Railway is also the name of a former operator of the Ōito Line
     Shinano Railway Line
A 115 series train at Sakaki Station, March 2008
Type Commuter rail
Locale Nagano Prefecture
Termini Karuizawa
Opening 1 October 1997
Owner Shinano Railway
Rolling stock 115 series EMUs
Line length 65.1 km (40.5 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Minimum radius 400 m
Electrification 1,500 V DC, overhead catenary
Operating speed 100 km/h (60 mph)
Route map
UpNagano Shinkansen
Left Shinetsu Main Line abandoned in 1997
0.0 Karuizawa
LeftKusakaru Electric Railway
Nagano ShinkansenRight
4.0 Naka-Karuizawa
7.2 Shinano-Oiwake
13.2 Miyota
18.3 Hirahara
Koumi LineRight
22.0 Komoro
Nunobiki Electric RailwayRight
27.9 Shigeno
31.3 Tanaka
34.7 Ōya
Ueda Maruko Electric Railway:
DownMaruko Line Right
37.1 Shinano-Kokubunji
LeftMaruko LineUp
Nagano ShinkansenRight
40.0 Ueda
LeftUeda Electric Railway
Ueda Electric Railway Bessho LineRight
44.4 Nishi-Ueda
47.9 Tekuno-Sakaki
50.4 Sakaki
54.9 Togura
57.1 Chikuma
59.9 Yashiro
LeftYashiro Line
61.8 Yashiro-kōkō-mae
Shinano (Chikuma) River
UpShinano Railway Line
Shinonoi LineRight
DownShinetsu Main Line
(67.2) Imai
(69.4) Kawanakajima
Sai River
(71.5) Amori
(74.4) Nagano
Nagano Electric RailwayDown
LeftHokuriku Shinkansen
DownShinetsu Main Line

The Shinano Railway Line (しなの鉄道線 Shinano Tetsudō-sen?) is a 65.1 km railway line operated by the third-sector Shinano Railway (しなの鉄道 Shinano Tetsudō?) in Nagano Prefecture, Japan between Karuizawa Station, Karuizawa and Shinonoi Station, Nagano. This is the only railway line the company operates.


Before October 1997, the right-of-way now belonging to the Shinano Railway was a part of the Shinetsu Main Line of East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and served as the main train route connecting Nagano and Tokyo. Upon completion of the Nagano Shinkansen in October 1997, JR East transferred all long distance operations to the shinkansen, and control of the Shinetsu Main Line between Karuizawa and Shinonoi was handed over to the newly formed Shinano Railway, which is majority owned by the Nagano Prefectural Government. Today, the line is a vital commuter transport route for communities in the east and north of Nagano Prefecture.

The line is electrified and double-tracked with a track gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) for its entire length. The speed limit is 100 km/h (reduced from 120 km/h as the Shinetsu Main Line).

Like many railways in rural parts of Japan, the line faces problems concerning decreased ridership and revenue.[1] In recent years, additional stations have been opened at Tekuno-Sakaki, Yashiro-kōkō-mae, and Shinano-Kokubunji in order to increase passenger numbers. Also, driver-only operation has been introduced on most of the line in order to reduce personnel costs.


Shinano Railway Line trains use the right-of-way of the Shinetsu Main Line between Shinonoi and Nagano. All trains terminate at Nagano, not Shinonoi.

As of April 2008, four round trains are operated as Rapids from Nagano. One in the morning from Komoro to Nagano, and two in the evening from Nagano to Ueda are named Shinano Sunrise and Shinano Sunset, require payment of surcharge between Nagano and Ueda.


"R" for Rapid (unnamed) and "S" for Shinano Sunset and Shinano Sunrise. Lower case letters indicate that some trains stop, while upper case letters indicate that all trains stop.

Station Japanese Stop Location
Karuizawa 軽井沢 R   Karuizawa, Kitasaku
Naka-Karuizawa 中軽井沢 R  
Shinano-Oiwake 信濃追分 R  
Miyota 御代田 R   Miyota, Kitasaku
Hirahara 平原   Komoro
Komoro 小諸 R s
Shigeno 滋野 r s Tōmi
Tanaka 田中 R s
Ōya 大屋 R s Ueda
Shinano-Kokubunji 信濃国分寺 r s
Ueda 上田 R S
Nishi-Ueda 西上田  
Tekuno-Sakaki テクノさかき   Sakaki, Hanishina
Sakaki 坂城 r  
Togura 戸倉 R   Chikuma
Chikuma 千曲 R  
Yashiro 屋代 R  
Yashiro-kōkō-mae 屋代高校前  
Shinonoi 篠ノ井 R   Nagano
Shinetsu Main Line
Imai 今井   Nagano
Kawanakajima 川中島 r  
Amori 安茂里  
Nagano 長野 R S

Rolling stock[edit]

Shinano Railway uses trainsets that were inherited from JR East when the line was transferred. The trains were subsequently repainted into Shinano Railway's livery and refurbished. Many of the trains have video screens above the doors which feature commercials and other information. In general, the 115 series trains are used for local services, while the 169 series were used for rapid and liner trains.


The line first opened on 15 August 1888 as the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge steam-operated Naoetsu Line (直江津線?) between Nagano and Ueda.[2] This was extended south from Ueda to Karuizawa in December 1888.[2] The line was electrified using a 1,500 V DC overhead wire system from June 1963.[2]

The third-sector operator Shinano Railway was established on 1 May 1996, and operations of the Shinetsu Line between Karuizawa and Shinanoi were transferred from JR East to the Shinano Railway from 1 October 1997.[2]

Driver only operation was introduced on some services from 5 January 2004.[2]

Former connecting lines[edit]

A train on the Kusatsu Light Railway

(Note - Prior to 1997 the stations below were part of the Shin'etsu Line)

  • Karuizawa Station: The Kusatsu Light Railway Co. opened a 56 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line, including two switch backs, to Kusatsu Onsen between 1915 and 1926. The line was electrified at 600 V DC in 1924. In 1950, a typhoon resulted in a bridge being swept away, and the same thing occurred in 1959, resulting in the 38 km section from Karuizawa to Joshu Mihara closing in 1960. The balance of the line closed in 1962.
  • Komoro station - The Nunobiki Electric Railway Co. opened an 8km line, electrified at 600 VDC, to Shimagawara in 1926 to transport construction materials for the Makato Azuma hydro-electric power station. When that traffic finished the revenue for the line was less than 50% of interest bill alone, and it closed in 1934 amid accusations of poor management.
  • Oya station - The Maruko Railway Co. opened a 7km line to its namesake town in 1918, and electrified the line at 600 VDC in 1924. The following year it opened a 5km electrified line from Oya to Ueda-Higashi. In 1944 the company merged with the Ueda Onsen Electric Railway Co. (see next entry) creating the Maruko Ueda Electric Railway Co. Both lines closed in 1969.
  • Ueda station - The Ueda Onsen Electric Railway Co. opened a 13km line to Sanada, and a 3km branch from Motohara to Sochi between 1927 and 1928, both lines electrified at 1500 VDC. In 1944 the company merged with the Maruko Electric Railway Co. (see previous entry) creating the Maruko Ueda Electric Railway Co. Both lines closed in 1972.
  • Yashiro station - The Kato Railway Co. opened a 24km line to Suzaka on the Nagano Electric Railway line in 1922, electrified it at 1500 VDC in January 1926, and merged with that company in September the same year. CTC signalling was commissioned on the line in 1983, but due to falling patronage the line closed in 2012.
  • Nagano Station: The Zenkoji Hakuba Railway Co. opened a 7 km line to Susohana Guchi in 1936. A proposal for the line to be extended to Hakuba on the Oito Line did not eventuate, and the line closed in 1944.

Proposed connecting line[edit]

  • Tanaka station - The Saku Railway Co. which built the line from Komoro to Koumi, proposed to build a line to Chino on the Chuo Main Line from this station. The company was nationalised before construction started and JGR connected the Koumi line to the Chuo Main Line in 1935, making this proposal redundant.

See also[edit]


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

  1. ^ Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (ed.). Annual of Railway Statistics (鉄道統計年報 Tetsudō Tōkei Nenpō?) (in Japanese). 
  2. ^ a b c d e Terada, Hirokazu (19 January 2013). データブック日本の私鉄 [Databook: Japan's Private Railways]. Japan: Neko Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 978-4-7770-1336-4. 

External links[edit]