Shin'etsu Main Line

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Shinetsu Main Line
Overview
Locale Gunma, Nagano, Niigata prefectures
Termini Takasaki - Yokokawa
Shinonoi - Niigata
Operation
Operator(s) JR East
Technical
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Route map
Map of Shinetsu Main Line.svg
Map Legend
Red: Shinetsu Main Line
Blue: Shinano Railway Line

The Shinetsu Main Line (信越本線 Shin'etsu-honsen?) is a pair of lines operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in Japan. Originally one continuous line, the longer section connects Shinonoi Station in Nagano Prefecture to Niigata Station in Niigata Prefecture, with several connections to other lines including Hokuriku Main Line at Naoetsu Station in Niigata Prefecture. The other section of the Shinetsu Main Line connects Takasaki Station in Gunma Prefecture to Yokokawa Station in Gunma Prefecture. Additionally, there are three freight branches; from Echigo-Ishiyama Station to Niigata Kamotsu Terminal, from Kami-Nuttari Junction to Nuttari Station, and from Kami-Nuttari Junction to Higashi-Niigata-kō Station. The name of the line refers to the old names for Nagano and Niigata Prefectures, Shinano (信濃) and Echigo (越後), which the main section still connects.

The separation of the original line into two sections was a result of the abandonment of the section between Yokokawa and Karuizawa and the reassignment of operations over the section between Karuizawa and Shinonoi to the third-sector Shinano Railway, both occurring on October 1, 1997 in conjunction with the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen between Takasaki and Nagano stations. The abandoned section through the Usui Pass was famous for its steep 66.7 gradient.[1]

When the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension to Kanazawa opens in March 2015, the portion of the Shinetsu Main Line between Nagano and Naoetsu will also be spun off to two third-sector railway operators, the Shinano Railway in Nagano Prefecture, and the Echigo Tokimeki Railway Company in Niigata Prefecture.[2]

Stations[edit]

Takasaki–Yokokawa[edit]

Station Distance
(km)
Connections Location
Takasaki 0.0 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Nagano Shinkansen, Takasaki Line, Hachikō Line, Jōetsu Line, Ryōmō Line
Joshin Dentetsu Joshin Line
Takasaki Gunma
Prefecture
Kita-Takasaki 2.4  
Gumma-Yawata 6.4  
Annaka 10.6   Annaka
Isobe 17.6  
Matsuida 22.7  
Nishi-Matsuida 23.9  
Yokokawa 29.7  

Shinonoi–Niigata[edit]

Station Distance
(km)
Connections Location
Shinonoi 0.0 Shinonoi Line,
Shinano Railway Line
Nagano Nagano
Prefecture
Imai 2.1  
Kawanakajima 4.3  
Amori 6.4  
Nagano 9.3 Nagano Shinkansen
Nagano Electric Railway
Kita-Nagano 13.2  
Sansai 16.1  
Toyono 20.1 Iiyama Line
Mure 27.9   Iizuna
Furuma 34.4   Shinano
Kurohime 38.2  
Myōkō-Kōgen 46.6   Myōkō Niigata
Prefecture
Sekiyama 53.0  
Nihongi 61.3   Jōetsu
Arai 67.6   Myōkō
Kita-Arai 70.5  
Wakinoda 73.9   Jōetsu
Minami-Takada 75.6  
Takada 77.6  
Kasugayama 81.5  
Naoetsu 84.3 Hokuriku Main Line
Kuroi 87.0  
Saigata 91.4 Hokuhoku Line
Dosokohama 93.7  
Katamachi 95.5  
Jōgehama 98.3  
Kakizaki 101.9  
Yoneyama 107.8   Kashiwazaki
Kasashima 111.7  
Ōmigawa 113.9  
Kujiranami 116.9  
Kashiwazaki 120.6 Echigo Line
Ibarame 123.6  
Yasuda 126.5  
Kitajō 129.1  
Echigo-Hirota 132.4  
Nagatori 135.1  
Tsukayama 140.1   Nagaoka
Echigo-Iwatsuka 144.8  
Raikōji 147.6  
Maekawa 151.7  
Miyauchi 154.3 Jōetsu Line
Minami-Nagaoka Freight Terminal 155.7  
Nagaoka 157.3 Jōetsu Shinkansen
Kita-Nagaoka 159.8  
Oshikiri 164.2  
Mitsuke 168.7   Mitsuke
Obiori 172.8   Sanjō
Tōkōji 175.4  
Sanjō 178.9  
Higashi-Sanjō 180.5 Yahiko Line
Honai 184.3  
Kamo 188.1   Kamo
Hanyūda 192.2   Tagami
Tagami 195.4  
Yashiroda 199.1   Akiha-ku, Niigata
Furutsu 202.2  
Niitsu 205.4 Uetsu Main Line, Banetsu West Line
Satsukino 206.9  
Ogikawa 209.2  
Kameda 214.1   Kōnan-ku, Niigata
Echigo-Ishiyama 216.5   Higashi-ku, Niigata
Kaminuttari Junction (218.7)   Chūō-ku, Niigata
Niigata 220.6 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Hakushin Line, Echigo Line

History[edit]

Abt rack railway loco used on the Usui Pass line, note the 'shoe' ahead of the nearest wheel to collect power via a third rail

The Japanese Government Railways opened the Takasaki - Yokokawa section in 1885, the Naoetsu - Sekiyama section the following year, and the Sekiyama - Nagano - Karuizawa section in 1888. In order to surmount the 552 metre altitude difference between Yokokawa and Karuizawa (which are 10 km apart), it then constructed an Abt rack section through the Usui Pass, which opened in 1893, and was double-tracked for 1 km from Karuizawa to the top of the rack section. A horse-drawn tramway operated between Yokokawa and Karuizawa until the rack section opened.

The Hokuetsu Railway Co. opened the Naoetsu - Nagaoka secion in 1897, extending the line to Niigata in 1904. Both companies were nationalised in 1907. In 1912, the rack section was electrified using third rail at 600 V DC, this being the first use of this method in Japan.[citation needed]

In 1997, following the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen, the Yokokawa - Karuizawa section was closed, and the Karuizawa - Shinonoi section transferred to the third-sector Shinano Railway.

Double-tracking[edit]

The Karuizawa - Nagano section was double-tracked between 1917 and 1920, with the Nagaoka - Miyauchi section double-tracked in 1931, and the Niitsu - Kamo section in 1944. Double-tracking of the remainder of the Niigata - Naoetsu line was undertaken in sections between 1958 and 1973.

Double-tracking of the remainder of the Takasaki - Kaminagano line was undertaken in sections between 1963 and 1973, commencing with the replacement of the rack section with an adhesion only electrified (1,500 V DC catenary) new line on a 1 in 15 (6.7%) grade. The rack section was initially kept as a contingency, and closed two months after the new section opened and had proved its reliability.

The Kurohime - Myoko Kogan section was double-tracked in conjunction with a realignment in 1980. The Mure - Kurohime section was also realigned and prepared for double-tracking (including new double-track size tunnels), but the second track was not laid.

Electrification[edit]

The Miyauchi - Nagaoka section was electrified in 1947 at 1,500 V DC in conjunction with the electrification of the Joetsu Line, with the Nagaoka - Niigata section electrified in 1962, the same year the Takasaki - Yokokawa section was commissioned to facilitate the extension to Nagano the following year via the new adhesion line through the Usui Pass mentioned above. The Nagano - Naoetsu section was electrified in 1966, and extended to Miyauchi in 1969.

Former connecting lines[edit]

A train on the Kusatsu Light Railway
The Kubiki Railway prior to 1940
A train on the Uomuna line in 1937, prior to its conversion to 1,067 mm gauge
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kuroi Station: The Kubiki Railway Co. opened a 15 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Uragawara between 1914 and 1916, with the line closing in 1971.
  • Raikoji Station: The Nagaoka Railway Co. opened a 39 km line to Teradomari (on the Echigo Line) between 1915 and 1921. This company introduced Japan's first diesel railcar in 1928, and in 1951 electrified 31 km of the line at 750 V DC in 70 days, completing the balance the following year. Significant typhoon damage occurred in 1966, and in 1972, passenger services ceased between Raikoji and Nishinagaoka, with the entire line becoming freight-only three years later. The line closed in 1995.

The 13 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge Uonuma Railway to Nishiojiya was opened in 1911, and nationalised in 1922. It was converted to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge in 1954, freight services ceased in 1960, and the line closed in 1984.

  • Nagaoka Station: The Yukyuzan Railway Co. opened a 27 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Tochio between 1915 and 1924. The line was electrified at 600 V DC in 1948, with this being raised to 750 V DC in 1956. CTC signalling was commissioned in 1961, freight services ceased in 1967, and the line closed between 1973 and 1975.
  • Higashi Sanjo Station: The Echigo Railway Co. opened the 8 km line to Echigo Nagasawa in 1927, and was nationalised two months later. Freight services ceased in 1960, and the line closed in 1985.
  • Kamo Station: The Kanbara Railway Co. operated a line to Gosen on the Ban'etsu West Line from 1923 until 2002.

Future developments[edit]

The Shinetsu Main Line runs roughly parallel to the route of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension from Nagano to Kanazawa scheduled to open in March 2015. With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, control of local passenger services on the sections of the Shinetsu Main Line running through Nagano and Niigata prefectures will be transferred to the following two third-sector operating companies owned by the respective prefectures.[2]

References[edit]

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