Tōhoku Main Line

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Tōhoku Main Line
E721 series train pulling into Nagamachi Station on the Tohoku Main Line
E721 series train pulling into Nagamachi Station
Locale Kantō, Tōhoku
Termini Tokyo
Owner JR East
Line length 575.7 km (357.7 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC from Tokyo to Kuroiso
20 kV AC, 50Hz from Kuroiso to Morioka
Operating speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
Route map
JR Tohoku Main Line linemap.svg
Tōhoku Main Line in red

The Tōhoku Main Line (東北本線 Tōhoku-honsen?) is a 575.7 km long railway line in Japan operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). Although officially the line starts from Tokyo Station in Chiyoda, Tokyo, most of the long-distance trains actually begin at Ueno Station in Taitō, Tokyo, and pass through such cities as Saitama, Utsunomiya, Fukushima, and Sendai, before reaching the end of the line in Morioka. The line originally extended to Aomori, and was truncated upon the extension of the Tōhoku Shinkansen beyond Morioka, which mostly parallels the Tōhoku Main Line.

The 159.9 km long portion of the line between Ueno Station and Kuroiso Station in Nasushiobara, Tochigi is often referred to as the (JR) Utsunomiya Line. A portion of the Tōhoku Main Line is also shared with the Keihin-Tōhoku Line (29.6 km between Tokyo Station and Ōmiya Station in Ōmiya-ku, Saitama) and the Saikyō Line (18.0 km between Akabane Station in the Kita ward of Tokyo and Ōmiya Station).


The construction of the Tōhoku Main Line began in the Kantō region and extended to the north end of Honshu, and the city of Aomori. It is one of oldest railway lines in Japan, with construction beginning in the late 19th century. Until November 1, 1906, the current Tōhoku Main Line was run by a private company Nippon Railway.

In 1883, the first segment between Ueno and Kumagaya opened. In 1885, it was extended to Utsunomiya, but the Tone River had to be crossed by boat. Following construction of the Tone River Bridge in 1886, Utsunomiya and Ueno were directly connected. The line gradually extended further to the north; to Kōriyama, Sendai, Ichinoseki and Morioka. In 1891, the segment between Morioka and Aomori opened, creating the longest continuous railway line in Japan.

After 1906, the line was nationalized and became the Tōhoku Main Line operated by the Ministry of Railways. When Tokyo Station opened in 1925, the Tōhoku Main Line was extended from Ueno to the new station. Until the 1950s, this segment was used and many trains ran through both the Tōkaidō Main Line and Tōhoku Main Line. However, when the Tōhoku Shinkansen opened, it occupied land previously used for the tracks of mid and long-distance Tōhoku Main Line trains. As a result, only a small number of commuter lines such as the Keihin-Tōhoku Line now operate to Tokyo from the north, making Tokyo Station's status as part of the Tōhoku Main Line somewhat circumspect. This is set to change in March 2015 when the under-construction Tōhoku Through Line is completed, facilitating through service between the Tōkaidō Line and the Utsunomiya and Jōban Lines.

In 2002, the Tōhoku Shinkansen was extended from Morioka to Hachinohe and the operations of the local track segment between those two cities was turned over to Iwate Ginga Railway (IGR) and Aoimori Railway Co.[1] With the extension of the Tōhoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori station in 2010, the segment between Hachinohe and Aomori was delegated to the Aoimori Railway Company. The shortened Tōhoku Main Line is now the second-longest line in Japan, after the Sanin Main Line.


The Tokyo - Omiya section was duplicated between 1892 and 1896, extended to Furukawa in 1908, Koyama the following year, and to Utsunomiya in 1913.

The Iwanuma - Sendai - Iwakiri section was duplicated between 1920 & 1923 and the Utsunomiya - Iwanuma section between 1959 and 1964.

The Iwakiri - Morioka - Aomori section was duplicated between 1951 and 1968, including the 17km realigned section between Iwakiri and Atago in 1962.


The 7km Tokyo - Tabata section was electrified at 1500 VDC in 1909, extended to Akabane in 1928, Omiya in 1932 and Kuroiso in 1959. Electrification was then continued north at 20kVAC, reaching Fukushima in 1960, Sendai in 1961, Morioka in 1965 and Aomori in 1968.

Former connecting lines[edit]

The staff of the Bushu Railway in 1927
The railcar used on the Tsukinoki - Tateyama line
The Matsushima-Machi 'human powered' tramway
A train on the Kurihara Railway in April 2006
  • Hasuda station - The Bushu Railway Co. operated a 17km line to Kamine from 1924 until 1938.
  • Mamada station - A 2km 610mm human powered line to Omoigawa operated between 1899 and 1917.
  • Hoshakuji station - A 12km line servicing the Utsunomiya Army Airfield operated between 1942 and 1945.
  • Ujiie station - An 8km 610mm (2') gauge human powered line operated to Kitsuregawa between 1902 and 1918.
  • Yaita station - The Tobu Railway Co. opened a 24km 762mm (2'6") gauge line to Shin Takatoku (on the Tobu Kinugawa Line) in 1924. The line was converted to 1067mm (3'6") gauge in 1929, and closed in 1959.
  • Nishi-Nasuno station -

A 15km line was opend by the Shiobara Railway Co. to its namesake town in 1912. The line was electrified at 550 VDC in 1921, and closed in 1936.

The Higashino Railway Co. opened a 24km line to Nasu Ogawa between 1918 and 1924, the line closing in 1968. At Otawara station it connected with the 762mm horse tram mentioned below for the three years they were both open.

A 5km 762mm gauge human powered line to Otawara opened in 1908. In 1917 it converted to a horse tram, but closed in 1921. At Otawara station it connected with the Higashino Railway Co. line mentioned above.

  • Shirakawa station - A 23km line to Iwaki Tanakura (on the Suigun Line) was opened by the Shirotana Railway Co. in 1916. The line was nationalised in 1941, and closed in 1944. Plans to reopen the line in 1953 resulted in a decision to convert the line to a dedicated busway, which opened in 1957.
  • Koriyama station - The Fukushima Prefectural Government operated a 13km 762mm gauge line to Miharu between 1891 and 1914.
  • Motomiya station - An 8km Forest railway (gauge unknown) operated to Otama between ~1912 and ~1930.
  • Matsukawa station - A 12km line to Iwashiro Kawamata operated from 1926 until 1972.

The Miyagi Prefectural Government operated the following three lines, the all utilising 762mm gauge:

  • Ogawara station - a 27km line to Toogatta opened between 1917 and 1922, and closed in 1937.
  • Tsukinoki station - a 19km line to Tateyama, opened in 1899 as a horse drawn tramway. Steam locomotion was introduced in 1917, and the line closed in 1929.
  • Natori station - a 6km line to Yurage, operated from 1926 until 1939.
  • Nagamachi station - A 16km 762mm (2'6") gauge horse-drawn tramway was opened to Akiu Onsen in 1912. In 1925 the Akiho Electric Railway Co. converted the line to 1067mm (3'6") gauge and electrified it at 600 VDC. The line closed in 1961.
  • Kofuku-Tagajo station - When the Tohoku Main Line was realigned in 1956, the original line to Shiogama Wharf (on the Senseki Line) remained in place as a freight-only line, closing in 1997.
  • Matsushima station - The Miyagi Prefectural Government operated a 4km, 1067mm gauge line to Matsushima Kaogan, electrified at 550 VDC, between 1922 and 1944.
  • Matsushima-Machi station - A 2km 610mm gauge human powered line operated between 1923 and 1930.
  • Kogota station - Prior to the opening of the Rikuu East Line, a 10km 737mm (2'5") gauge horse tramway operated to Furukawa between 1900 and 1913.
  • Semine station - The Senpoku Railway Co. operated a 41km 762mm gauge line from Tome to Tsukidate between 1921 and 1968.
  • Ishikoshi station - The Kurihara Railway Co. opened a 17km 762mm gauge line to Kurikoma in 1921/22. In 1942 the line was extended 9km to the Hosokura mine, electrified at 750 VDC in 1950, and converted to 1067mm gauge in 1955. The mine closed in 1987, when freight services ceased. In 1993 the Prefectural government assumed operational responsibility from the company. The electrification was decommissioned in 1995, and the line closed in 2007.
  • Hanamaki station - An 18km 762mm gauge line to Nishinamari Onsen was opened in 1915 by the Hanamaki Electric Railway Co., which then opened a second line, 8km to Hanamaki Onsen in 1925. both lines were electrified at 600 VDC. The latter closed in 1972, and the former in 1976.
  • Hachinohe station - The Gonohe Electric Railway Co. operated a 12km line (not electrified, despite the company name) to its namesake town between 1929/30 and 1969.
  • Noheji station - The Southern Trans Railway Co. opened a 21km line to Shichinohe in 1962. Freight services ceased in 1984, and the line closed in 1997.

Station list[edit]

Utsunomiya Line[edit]

Main article: Utsunomiya Line

(Ueno to Kuroiso)

Station Japanese Distance (km)
(from Tokyo Station)
Transfers Location
Ueno 上野 3.6 Tohoku Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen, Jōban Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Takasaki Line, Yamanote Line
Subway TokyoGinza.png Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-16), Subway TokyoHibiya.png Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (H-17)
Keisei Main Line (at Keisei Ueno Station)
Taitō-ku Tokyo
Oku 尾久 8.4 Kita-ku
Akabane 赤羽 13.2 Takasaki Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Saikyō Line
Urawa 浦和 24.2 Takasaki Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line Urawa-ku, Saitama Saitama Prefecture
Saitama-Shintoshin さいたま新都心 28.7 Takasaki Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line Ōmiya-ku, Saitama
Ōmiya 大宮 30.3 Tōhoku Shinkansen, Jōetsu Shinkansen, Takasaki Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Saikyō Line, Kawagoe Line
Tobu Noda Line
Saitama New Urban Transit Ina Line
Toro 土呂 33.3 Kita-ku, Saitama
Higashi-Ōmiya 東大宮 35.4 Minuma-ku, Saitama
Hasuda 蓮田 39.2 Hasuda
Shiraoka 白岡 43.5 Shiraoka
Shin-Shiraoka 新白岡 45.9
Kuki 久喜 48.9 Tobu Isesaki Line Kuki
Higashi-Washinomiya 東鷲宮 51.6
Kurihashi 栗橋 57.2 Tōbu Nikkō Line
Koga 古河 64.7 Koga Ibaraki
Nogi 野木 69.4 Nogi Tochigi
Mamada 間々田 73.3 Oyama
Oyama 小山 80.6 Tohoku Shinkansen, Mito Line, Ryōmō Line
Koganei 小金井 88.1 Shimotsuke
Jichi-idai 自治医大 90.7
Ishibashi 石橋 95.4
Suzumenomiya 雀宮 101.8 Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya 宇都宮 109.5 Tōhoku Shinkansen, Nikkō Line
Okamoto 岡本 115.7
Hōshakuji 宝積寺 121.2 Karasuyama Line Takanezawa
Ujiie 氏家 127.1 Sakura
Kamasusaka 蒲須坂 131.6
Kataoka 片岡 135.5 Yaita
Yaita 矢板 141.8
Nozaki 野崎 146.6 Otawara
Nishi-Nasuno 西那須野 151.8 Nasushiobara
Nasushiobara 那須塩原 157.8 Tohoku Shinkansen
Kuroiso 黒磯 163.3

Southern Tōhoku Main Line[edit]

(Kuroiso to Sendai)

  • ●: All rapid trains stop
  • *: Some rapid trains stop
  • |: All rapid trains pass
Station Japanese Distance (km)
(from Tokyo Station)
Rapid Transfers Location
Kuroiso 黒磯 163.3 Nasushiobara Tochigi Prefecture
Takaku 高久 167.3 Nasu
Kurodahara 黒田原 171.5
Toyohara 豊原 176.7
Shirasaka 白坂 182.0 Shirakawa Fukushima Prefecture
Shin-Shirakawa 新白河 185.4 Tohoku Shinkansen Nishigo
Shirakawa 白河 188.2 Shirakawa
Kutano 久田野 192.9
Izumizaki 泉崎 197.4 Izumizaki
Yabuki 矢吹 203.4 Yabuki
Kagamiishi 鏡石 208.8 Kagamiishi
Sukagawa 須賀川 215.1 Sukagawa
Asaka-Nagamori 安積永盛 221.8 Suigun Line Kōriyama
Kōriyama 郡山 226.7 Tohoku Shinkansen, Banetsu West Line, Banetsu East Line, Suigun Line (through from Asaka-Nagamori to Kōriyama)
Hiwada 日和田 232.4
Gohyakugawa 五百川 236.9 Motomiya
Motomiya 本宮 240.7
Sugita 杉田 246.6 Nihonmatsu
Nihonmatsu 二本松 250.3
Adachi 安達 254.5
Matsukawa 松川 259.5 Fukushima
Kanayagawa 金谷川 264.0
Minami-Fukushima 南福島 269.4
Fukushima 福島 272.8 Tohoku Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Ōu Main Line
Fukushima Kōtsū Iizaka Line, Abukuma Express Line
Higashi-Fukushima 東福島 278.8 *
Date 伊達 281.9 * Date
Kōri 桑折 285.9 * Kōri
Fujita 藤田 289.3 * Kunimi
Kaida 貝田 294.9 |
Kosugō 越河 298.6 | Shiroishi Miyagi Prefecture
Shiroishi 白石 306.8
Higashi-Shiroishi 東白石 311.0 |
Kita-Shirakawa 北白川 315.3 |
Ōgawara 大河原 320.1 Ōgawara
Funaoka 船岡 323.1 * Shibata
Tsukinoki 槻木 327.7 * Abukuma Express Line
Iwanuma 岩沼 334.2 Jōban Line Iwanuma
Tatekoshi 館腰 337.9 | Jōban Line Natori
Natori 名取 341.4 Jōban Line
Sendai Airport Line
Minami-Sendai 南仙台 344.1 | Jōban Line Taihaku-ku, Sendai
Taishidō 太子堂 346.3 | Jōban Line
Nagamachi 長町 347.3 | Jōban Line
Sendai Subway Nanboku Line
Sendai 仙台 351.8 Akita Shinkansen, Tohoku Shinkansen, Senzan Line, Senseki Line, Jōban Line (through from Iwanuma to Sendai)
Sendai Subway Nanboku Line, Sendai Airport Line (through from Natori)
Aoba-ku, Sendai

Central Tohoku Main Line[edit]

(Sendai to Morioka)

Station Japanese Distance (km)
(from Tokyo Station)
Rapid Transfers Location
"Aterui" "Hamayuri"
Sendai 仙台 351.8 Akita Shinkansen, Tohoku Shinkansen, Senzan Line, Senseki Line, Jōban Line (through from Iwanuma to Sendai)
Sendai Subway Nanboku Line
Sendai Airport Line (through from Natori)
Aoba-ku, Sendai Miyagi Prefecture
Higashi-Sendai 東仙台 355.8 | Miyagino-ku, Sendai
Iwakiri 岩切 359.9 |
Shin-Rifu 新利府 2.5 (from Iwakiri) Branch line from Iwakiri Rifu
Rifu 利府 4.2 (from Iwakiri)
Rikuzen-Sannō 陸前山王 362.2 | Tagajō, Miyagi
Kokufu-Tagajō 国府多賀城 363.5 |
Shiogama 塩釜 365.2 | Shiogama
Matsushima 松島 375.2 | Matsushima
Atago 愛宕 377.2 |
Shinainuma 品井沼 381.6 |
Kashimadai 鹿島台 386.6 | Ōsaki
Matsuyama-Machi 松山町 391.5 |
Kogota 小牛田 395.0 Rikuu East Line, Ishinomaki Line Misato
Tajiri 田尻 401.1 Ōsaki
Semine 瀬峰 407.8 Kurihara
Umegasawa 梅ヶ沢 411.5 Tome
Nitta 新田 416.2
Ishikoshi 石越 423.5
Yushima 油島 427.0 Ichinoseki Iwate Prefecture
Hanaizumi 花泉 431.2
Shimizuhara 清水原 434.4
Arikabe 有壁 437.8 Kurihara Miyagi Prefecture
Ichinoseki 一ノ関 445.1 Tōhoku Shinkansen, Ōfunato Line Ichinoseki Iwate Prefecture
Yamanome 山ノ目 448.0
Hiraizumi 平泉 452.3 Hiraizumi
Maesawa 前沢 459.9 Ōshū
Rikuchū-Orii 陸中折居 465.1
Mizusawa 水沢 470.1
Kanegasaki 金ヶ崎 477.7 | Kanegasaki
Rokuhara 六原 481.1 |
Kitakami 北上 487.5 Tōhoku Shinkansen, Kitakami Line Kitakami
Murasakino 村崎野 492.2 |
Hanamaki 花巻 500.0 Kamaishi Line Hanamaki
Hanamaki Airport 花巻空港 505.7 | |
Ishidoriya 石鳥谷 511.4 | |
Hizume 日詰 516.8 | | Shiwa
Shiwachūō 紫波中央 518.6 | |
Furudate 古館 521.5 | |
Yahaba 矢幅 525.1 Yahaba
Iwate-Iioka 岩手飯岡 529.6 | | Morioka
Senbokuchō 仙北町 533.5 |
Morioka 盛岡 535.3 Tohoku Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Yamada Line, Tazawako Line
Iwate Galaxy Railway Line

Rolling stock[edit]

New HB-E210 series 2-car hybrid diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains are scheduled to be introduced on the line from 2015 between Sendai and Shiogama following the opening of a new link connecting with the Senseki Line at Takagimachi.[2]


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