Local bound for Yunoyama
Yokkaichi • Komono
|Opened||September 24, 1913|
|Line length||15.4 km (9.6 mi)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||Overhead, 1500V DC|
|Operating speed||80 km/h (50 mph)|
The Yunoyama Line (湯の山線 Yunoyama-sen?) is a railway line of the Japanese private railway company Kintetsu Railway, connecting Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station (Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture) and Yunoyama-Onsen Station (Komono, Mie Prefecture) in Japan.
The Yunoyama Line was originally conceived and built by Yokkaichi Railway (四日市鉄道 Yokkaichi Tetsudō) in the 1910s and was constructed with the purpose of both providing access within the city of Yokkaichi but also providing tourists access to the Yunoyama area. The line was completed in 1913 and in 1916 an extension from the line's origin, Kintetsu-Yokkaichi (at that time called Suwa Station and located slightly to the east), to JR Yokkaichi was added. However, this extension had a relatively short life as part of the Yunoyama Line as it was sold off to Ise Electric Railway (Iseden) in 1927, who utilized it for the extension of their main line from Yokkaichi to Kuwana. This made Suwa Station, a hub between three different private railways and the biggest station in Yokkaichi, the origin again. Steam engines originally ran on the tracks however in the 1920s the line was electrified, following a trend of many railways in the area.
Ownership of the line has shifted a few times during its existence. Yokkaichi Railway created the line but was absorbed by Mie Railway (Santetsu) in 1931, who built and operated the nearby Utsube Line which also originated from Suwa Station at that time. Then in 1944, Santetsu, along with six other companies, merged to form Mie Transport (Sanco). Twenty years later, 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 Kinki Nippon Railway (Kintetsu) the following year, and thus in 1965 the line came under its current name and ownership.
In 1954 the beginning of the route received a significant re-routing at the hands of Sanco, the owner at that time. The Kintetsu Nagoya Line suffered from many sharp curves on its way through Yokkaichi to Suwa Station. Kintetsu developed a plan to straighten the 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 be completed. 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 Nakagawara Station, the track that ran to the old Suwa Station was closed and a new track was built to Kintetsu-Yokkaichi. After this new section was completed, the Yunoyama Line originated from the part of Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station where the Utsube Line still originates today; the two lines both had the same track gauge at that time and connected directly with each other.
About 10 years later, in 1964, when Sanden took over the railway, more improvements were carried out even though Sanden only owned the line for about one year. Yokkaichi Railway constructed the line with an especially narrow gauge of 762 mm (2 ft 6 in), but in the interest of direct connection with the Kintetsu Nagoya Line, the technical specs of the line were altered to match those of the Nagoya Line; the Yunoyama Line gauge was widened to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and the voltage was also increased to 1500V. These changes severed the line's direct connection with the Utsube Line, however direct connection with the Nagoya Line, a major railway trunk line, was seen as more beneficial. When Kintetsu acquired the line the following year, it was relatively painless to tie the two lines together and it soon began offering limited express service directly from both Uehommachi in Osaka and Nagoya to Yunoyama, aimed at attracting tourists to the onsen and nearby Mount Gozaisho. This service was offered for over 30 years but was ceased in 1998 due to insufficient ridership. Limited express trains that originated at Kintetsu-Yokkaichi continued to run the length of the Yunoyama Line for a few more years, but this service was finally ended in 2004. The Yunoyama Line is notable because it is the only one of Kintetsu's many small branch lines to have ever offered limited express service.
- June 1, 1913 - Kawashimamura (now Ise-Kawashima) ~ Yunoyama (now Yunoyama-Onsen) section opened by Yokkaichi Railway.
- September 24, 1913 - Suwa (now Kintetsu-Yokkaichi) ~ Kawashimamura section opens.
- March 3, 1916 - Yokkaichi (Kokutetsu) ~ Suwa section opens.
- November 1, 1921 - Entire line electrified.
- November 29, 1927 - Yokkaichi ~ Suwa section closes. Suwa becomes the origin of the line.
- March 1, 1931 - Yokkaichi Railway is absorbed by Mie Railway (Santetsu).
- February 1, 1944 - Matsumotomura Station officially renamed Ise-Matsumoto Station.
- February 11, 1944 - Santetsu and six other companies merge to form Mie Transport (Sanco). Connection with Utsube Line opens. Line officially renamed Sanco Mie Line.
- July 1, 1954 - Kawashimamura Station officially renamed Ise-Kawashima Station. Sakuramura Station officially renamed Sakura Station.
- September 23, 1956 - Suwa Station closed, moved, and re-opened as Kintetsu-Yokkaichi Station. Suwa ~ Nakagawara section closes. Kintetsu-Yokkaichi ~ Nakagawara section opens.
- February 1, 1964 - Sanco railway division splits off and forms a new company Mie Electric Railway (Sanden).
- March 23, 1964 - Ōbane-en Station opens. Voltage along line increased to 1500V. Entire line re-gauged from 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge. Direct connection with Utsube Line closes. Direct connection with Nagoya Line opens.
- April 1, 1965 - Sanden, and all of its lines, are acquired by Kinki Nippon Railway (Kintetsu). Line officially renamed Kintetsu Yunoyama Line.
- July 15, 1965 - Direct limited express service from Osaka and Nagoya begins.
- October 17, 1968 - ATS system activated on entire line.
- August 1, 1970 - Yunoyama Station officially renamed to Yunoyama-Onsen Station.
- March 11, 1973 - Elevated portion of the Kintetsu-Yokkaichi ~ Nakagawara section is completed and opens.
- March 17, 1998 - Direct limited express service from Osaka and Nagoya ends.
- March 18, 2004 - Limited express service along the line ends.
LO Local (普通 futsū)
- For Yokkaichi
- For Yunoyama-Onsen
- Locals stop at every station.
- All trains offer conductor-less (one man) service.
- Trains run twice per hour during the day, three or four times per hour in the mornings and evenings.
Limited express service on the Yunoyama Line ended in 2004.
2008 limited express service
Direct limited express service to and from Nagoya will be temporarily resumed on weekends and holidays in late July and early August 2008 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Gozaisho Ropeway as well as the 40th anniversary of Suzuka National Park. These trains will only run once a day in each direction. Limited express trains on the Yunoyama Line will go all the way from Kintetsu-Yokkaichi to Yunoyama-Onsen without stopping.
|Kintetsu-Yokkaichi||近鉄四日市||0.0||Kintetsu Nagoya Line
Yokkaichi Asunarou Railway Utsube Line