Shinano Railway Line

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Shinano Railway Line
Shinano Railway logo
A 115 series train at Sakaki Station, March 2008
Native nameしなの鉄道線
OwnerShinano Railway
LocaleNagano Prefecture
TypeCommuter rail
Rolling stock115 series, SR1 series
Opened1 October 1997
Line length65.1 km (40.5 mi)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Minimum radius400 m (1,300 ft)
Electrification1,500 V DC, overhead catenary
Operating speed100 km/h (60 mph)
Route map

Left Shinetsu Main Line abandoned in 1997
LeftKusakaru Electric Railway
Nagano ShinkansenRight
Nunobiki Electric RailwayRight
Ueda Maruko Electric Railway:
DownMaruko Line Right
LeftMaruko LineUp
Nagano ShinkansenRight
Shinano (Chikuma) River
UpShinano Railway Line
DownShinetsu Main Line
Sai River
DownShinetsu Main Line

The Shinano Railway Line (しなの鉄道線, Shinano Tetsudō-sen) is a 65.1 km (40.5 mi) railway line operated by the third-sector railway operating company Shinano Railway in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It connects Karuizawa Station in Karuizawa with Shinonoi Station in Nagano.


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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.


All stations are in Nagano Prefecture.

Station Japanese Rapid Rapid Resort Rokumon Rapid Karuizawa Resort Rapid Shinano Sunrise Rapid Shina Sunset Connections Location
Karuizawa 軽井沢 Hokuriku Shinkansen Karuizawa
Naka-Karuizawa 中軽井沢
Shinano-Oiwake 信濃追分
Miyota 御代田 Miyota
Hirahara 平原 Komoro
Komoro 小諸 Koumi Line
Shigeno 滋野 Tōmi
Tanaka 田中
Ōya 大屋 Ueda
Shinano-Kokubunji 信濃国分寺
Ueda 上田
Nishi-Ueda 西上田
Tekuno-Sakaki テクノさかき Sakaki
Sakaki 坂城
Togura 戸倉 Chikuma
Chikuma 千曲
Yashiro 屋代
Yashiro-kōkō-mae 屋代高校前
Shinonoi 篠ノ井 Shinonoi Line Nagano
Shinetsu Main Line (Shinonoi – Nagano)
Imai 今井 Nagano
Kawanakajima 川中島
Amori 安茂里
Nagano 長野

Rolling stock[edit]

Former 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.[3] This was extended south from Ueda to Karuizawa in December 1888.[3] The line was electrified using a 1,500 V DC overhead wire system from June 1963.[3]

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.[3]

Driver only operation was introduced on some services from 5 January 2004.[3]

Former connecting lines[edit]

A train on the Kusakaru Electric Railway

(Note - Prior to 1997, the stations below were part of the Shinetsu Main Line.)

  • Karuizawa Station: The Kusakaru Electric Railway 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 rest of the line closed in 1962.
  • Komoro Station - The Nunobiki Electric Railway opened an 8 km line, electrified at 600 V DC, 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.
  • Oya Station: The Maruko Railway opened a 7 km line to Maruko in 1918, and electrified the line at 600 V DC in 1924. The following year, it opened a 5 km electrified line from Oya to Ueda-Higashi. In 1944, the company merged with the Ueda Onsen Electric Railway (see next entry) creating the Maruko Ueda Electric Railway. Both lines closed in 1969.
  • Ueda Station: The Ueda Onsen Electric Railway opened a 13 km line to Sanada, and a 3 km branch from Motohara to Sochi between 1927 and 1928, both lines electrified at 1,500 V DC. In 1944, the company merged with the Maruko Electric Railway (see previous entry) creating the Maruko Ueda Electric Railway. Both lines closed in 1972.
  • Yashiro Station: The Kato Railway opened a 24 km line to Suzaka on the Nagano Electric Railway line in 1922, electrified it at 1,500 V DC 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.

See also[edit]


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

  1. ^ Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (ed.). Tetsudō Tōkei Nenpō 鉄道統計年報 [Annual of Railway Statistics] (in Japanese).
  2. ^ しなの鉄道 SR1系 営業運転(2020年7月4日~). 鉄道コム. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  3. ^ 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]