Monday, October 24, 2016

The Johoku Line: Local Route in the Nagoya Urban Area

Diesel rail-car TKJ KiHa 11-300 series arrives at Owari-Hoshinomiya Station

Local railways in urban areas stir up rail-fans' interest. They are quite unique. One of the typical examples is the Johoku Line in the Nagoya Urban area, some 370 km west of Tokyo.

As you know, Nagoya is the largest station in the central part of Japan. The tracks were always crowded with various kinds of trains all day long. To solve the congestion, Japanese National Railways (JNR) planned to construct a freight line bypassing Nagoya Station in the 1960s. Later, the situation had drastically changed. Due to the evolution of truck transport, construction of the freight line had been suspended.

JNR and the government eventually changed the plan, and constructed the Johoku Line as a commuter route connecting the Tokaido Main Line and the Chuo Line. The entire route was completed in 1993. Its total operating length is 11.2 km. The track is elevated and double, but un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. A 1-car diesel rail-car, the KiHa11-300 series, is operated only once an hour on average by Tokai Transport Service Company (TKJ), which is a subsidiary of JR Central.

I found a big problem on the Johoku Line. All the connecting lines, such as the Meitetsu and the Nagoya Municipal Subway, are located far from the stations on the Johoku Line. Transfers are inconvenient. It was probably because the Johoku Line was originally planned as a freight route.

The Johoku Line... it is a useless treasure. Please do something about it!

Diesel rail-car TKJ KiHa 11-300 series stands at Biwajima Station on the Johoku Line