Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Musashino Line: Tokyo's Outer Ring Railway

EMU JR East 205 series arrives at Koshigaya Lake Town Station on the Musashino Line
 
Large cities in the world expand over the surrounding countryside. Tokyo, whose former name was Edo, is no exception.

Edo was a small little-known fishing village in the 15th century on the Kanto Plain. It became a castle city, when the headquarter of the Tokugawa Shogunate was opened there in 1603. Since then, Edo has been expanding for over 400 years. Currently, the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is about 38 million, 8 million of whom commute to their offices by trains every day. With the expansion of the Tokyo metropolitan area, not only radiated railways between the urban area and the suburbs, but also ring railways to connect the suburbs have become necessary. The JR East Musashino Line is a good example of a ring railway.

The Musashino Line was opened in 1973 as Tokyo's outer ring railway. Connecting Tsurumi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Nishi-Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture, its operating length is 100.6 km. The section between Tsurumi and Fuchu-Honmachi (28.8 km) is a freight line, while the section between Fuchu-Honmachi and Nishi-Funabashi (71.8 km) is a passenger and freight line. The entire route is an elevated or underground double track with 1,067 mm-gauge. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The orange colored trains, the EMU 205 series and the 209-500 series are the major fleet on the line. 8-car passenger trains are operated every ten minutes on average, but it is always crowded. The Musashino Line functions as an inter-suburbs railway in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

 
EMU JR East 209-500 series arrives at Musashi-Urawa Station on the Musashino Line