Fukuchiyama Line (福知山線)

The Fukuchiyama Line is a (trunk) railway line operated by the West Japan Railway Company that connects Amagasaki Station in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture, and Fukuchiyama Station in Fukuchiyama City, Kyoto Prefecture.

The line that runs between Osaka Station and Sasayamaguchi Station on the Tokaido Main Line, which includes the line between Osaka Station and Amagasaki Station, is fondly referred to as the JR Takarazuka Line. The prefix "JR" is added to "Takarazuka Line" to prevent confusion as the Hankyu Corporation operates a line called the Hankyu Takarazuka Line. As the line between Amagasaki Station and Tanikawa Station runs through an urban neighborhood, the JR Takarazuka Line portion of the Fukuchiyama Line is one of JR West's Urban Network lines. The Fukuchiyama Line merges into the Tokaido Main Line at a point between Tsukaguchi Station and Amagasaki Station, and then reaches Osaka Station.

The color of the JR Takarazuka Line is yellow, which is said to have been chosen as 'a vivid image representing new developable areas for the future.'

The Fukuchiyama Line isn't simply a line that connects Osaka with northern Kinki but is also a commuter line for office workers and students who commute from the cities of eastern Hyogo to Osaka. It is also one of the lines connecting Osaka and the Sanin region.

J-Through Card and ICOCA, Suica, issued by the East Japan Railway Company, TOICA issued by the Central Japan Railway Company, and PiTaPa issued by the Surutto KANSAI Association can be used at each station on the JR Takarazuka Line between Amagasaki and Sasayamaguchi.

Railway data

Jurisdiction (industrial classification): West Japan Railway Company (railway company)

Railway distance (operation kilometers): 106.5 km

Track gauge: 1067 mm

Number of stations: Thirty (including the stations of origin and terminus; 23 stations on the JR Takarazuka Line alone)

Double-track section: Between Amagasaki Station and Sasayamaguchi Station

Electrified section: Entire line (DC1500V)

Block (railway) system: Automatic block system

Control and protection system: Automatic Train Stop system (ATS) P-type (pattern-type) (=ATS-P) and ATS-SW between Amagasaki Station and Shin-Sanda Station, improved ATS (ATS-Sx) between Shin-Sanda Station and Fukuchiyama Station

Maximum speed: 110 km/h

Train control centers:

Between Amagasaki Station and Shin-Sanda Station: Shin-Osaka General Control Center

Between Shin-Sanda Station and Fukuchiyama Station: Fukuchiyama Transport Control Center

* The section between Amagasaki Station and Shin-Sanda Station is under the direct control of the West Japan Railway Company's Osaka Branch Office, while that between Shin-Sanda Station and Fukuchiyama Station (except for the stations at both ends of this interval) is under the control of West Japan Railway Company's Fukuchiyama Branch Office, Sasayamaguchi Railways Department (Fukuchiyama Station is under the direct control of the Fukuchiyama Branch Office).

Landscape along the railway

Up to 1986, the Fukuchiyama Line was a tranquil local line where passenger local trains ran and the scenery of a Muko-gawa River stream was enjoyed near Namaze and Dojo; however, these scenes disappeared as the line between Takarazuka Station and Shin-Sanda Station was double-tracked and electrified in 1986, and it was transformed into a commuter line on which new types of trains run, housing development is promoted along the line and the JR Tozai Line has been established.

Although the old railway to the north of Takarazuka along the Muko-gawa River was discontinued (a part of the line is now used as a walking trail), the Fukuchiyama Line and Muko-gawa River still have close mutual ties. The railway lies upward along and crosses the Muko-gawa River at many points between Takarazuka Station and Furuichi Station, and it stretches downward along the Sasayama-gawa River, which is a stream of Kako-gawa River between Sasayamaguchi Station and Tanikawa Station. The greatest characteristic of the Fukuchiyama Line is that it crosses the watershed with no tunnels. The area around Iso Station has the lowest point of watershed in Honshu which devides Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan (the fields around this area are watershed rice fields) and the railway reaches Fukuchiyama Station on the Yura-gawa River, which flows into the Sea of Japan, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a train is running amid the scenery of rice fields. The tower of Fukuchiyama-jo Castle, which has been reconstructed, can be seen from a train window before reaching Fukuchiyama Station.

The sections between Kawanishiikeda Station and Nishinomiyanajio Station, between Sanda Station and Tamba-Oyama Station, and between Kaibara Station and Fukuchiyama Station run nearly parallel to National Route 176.

Types of Operations

Although Fukuchiyama Line starts at Amagasaki Station, all trains reach Osaka Station (some of them even go up to the JR Kyoto Line beyond Osaka Station) via Amagasaki Station or go into the Katamachi Line via the JR Tozai Line. Some limited express trains run directly into the track of Sanin Main Line or Kitakinki Tango Railway from Fukuchiyama Station.

Higher-category trains

The Fukuchiyama Line functions as part of the North Kinki Big X Network (the left oblique downward part of "X" represents the Fukuchiyama Line), and the following higher category trains run not only throughout the Fukuchiyama Line but also for Miyazu Station on the Kitakinki Tango Railway and Toyooka Station (Hyogo Prefecture) or Kinosakionsen Station (outbound line) on the Sanin Main Line. Since the express train 'Daisen' was discontinued on October 16, 2004, no night trains have run so only day trains have been operated.

The L-limited Express 'Kita-Kinki (train)' (between Shin-Osaka and Fukuchiyama, Toyooka, Kinosakionsen: 10.5 round trips)

The Limited Express 'Monju' (between Shin-Osaka and Amanohashidate: one round trip)

The Limited Express 'Tango Explorer' (between Shin-Osaka and Miyazu, Toyooka: two round trips)

Local train

Local trains (including rapid trains) that run the entire line without a transfer are available only in the early hours of the morning or in the evening, and the routes for those trains that run during the midday hours are separated according to where the train runs on the line between Amagasaki and Sasayamaguchi or between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama.

Rapid trains run from Osaka or the direction of the JR Tozai Line to the direction of Sasayamaguchi or Fukuchiyama. During the midday hours, rapid trains (starting from and terminating at Osaka Station) called 'Tambaji Rapid Service' are available on the section between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi. Trains available during the midday hours are distinguished as follows: local trains run directly to the JR Kobe Line and JR Kyoto Line, 'rapid' represents a rapid train that directly runs in the direction of the JR Tozai Line, and 'Tambaji Rapid Service' represents a rapid train that starts from and terminates at Osaka Station.

Rapid trains that run directly toward the JR Tozai Line and those that start from and terminate at Osaka Station will hereinafter be explained separately due to their different characteristics.

Rapid (directly to the JR Tozai Line)

Rapid trains that go directly to the JR Tozai Line or the Katamachi Line are operated with approximately 15-minute intervals all day. Those trains are in service up to Takarazuka Station during the daytime and up to Shin-Sanda Station (some of them are up to Sasayamaguchi Station) during the rush hour. All cars of the rapid trains use JR (West) Commuter Train Series 207, and each train has seven cars up to Sasayamaguchi Station. At Amagasaki Station, the rapid train makes a mutual connection with another rapid train that runs on the JR Kobe Line (some rapid trains may make a mutual connection with a special rapid or a local train, depending on the time zone). There are some rapid trains whose type changes to regional rapid (or local) on the JR Tozai Line and the Gakkentoshi Line early in the morning and late at night. This type of train is referred to as a regional rapid train on the timetable at a station.

Rapid trains (starting from and terminating at Osaka Station) called Tambaji Rapid Service

The number of rapid trains that start from or terminate at Osaka Station varies from section to section and from time zone to time zone, but it increases during the rush hour. Rapid trains that start from or terminate at Osaka Station aren't set in cycles in which limited express trains are supposed to be set.

Tambaji Rapid Service' is a nickname for rapid trains that use the JR (West) Suburban Train Series 221 and are operated between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi during the daytime. The service first started when the timetable was revised in March 2000, as Series 221 trains were added to the rapid services. Two services are available every hour in the off-hours from the daytime through the evening, except for the rush-hour period. The rapid train stops at the same stations at which other rapid trains stop. Most of the trains operated as part of the Tambaji Rapid Service have four cars; however, some trains have six or more cars. One of the two services in each hour makes a mutual connection at Sasayamaguchi Station with a train that goes to Fukuchiyama. Any rapid train other than Tambaji Rapid Service is a direct train to the JR Tozai Line during the operating hours of the Tambaji Rapid Service. Any rapid train that's operated in the early morning and the evening is categorized as 'rapid,' regardless of the operation section.

The Train Series 221 is also mainly used for rapid trains that start from and terminate at Osaka Station; however, the JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 113 and the JR (West) Commuter Train Series 207 are often used during the rush hour, while the Train Series 113 and Series 221 are used for both local and rapid trains that go above Sasayamaguchi Station. Prior to 2005, the JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 117 was used for the rapid trains, but those trains were withdrawn from the Fukuchiyama Line because they weren't equipped with an ATS-P system and were then moved to the Shimonoseki Region, the Sagano Line and the Kosei Line. Because the effective length of platforms of the stations above Sasayamaguchi Station is for up to six cars, four cars are disconnected from a rapid train that's operated with eight cars at Sasayamaguchi Station, and the rest of the four cars are operated after Sasayamaguchi. Some of the rapid trains that start from and terminate at Fukuchiyama Station may allow some limited express trains to pass at way stations.

Before Japan National Railways (JNR) was privatized as the JR Group, only a few rapid trains had been operated each day. According to the timetable of 1983 in the last years of JNR, only two round-trip rapid trains that stopped at Amagasaki, Itami, Takarazuka, Takedao, Sanda, Hirono, Aino and Furuichi were operated each day between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi. Fewer rapid trains were operated prior to March 1989. In March 1997, some rapid trains that passed Hirono Station, Aimoto Station, Kusano Station, Furuichi Station and Minami-Yashiro Station without stopping were introduced for the outbound line in the evening, but they were discontinued in December 2003, when the timetable was revised. The Train Series 207 was used for these rapid trains. Some trains that also pass some stations above Shin-Sanda without stopping are often operated as special trains.

local train (stopping at all stations)

Most of the local trains are directly connected to the JR Kyoto Line and operated in the section between Kyoto/Takatsuki and Shin-Sanda via Osaka. In the early morning, during the morning rush hour and late at night, some local trains that connect Osaka and Fukuchiyama and are operated directly to and from the JR Tozai Line (Shin-Sanda - Kitashinchi - Shijonawate/Matsuiyamate/Kyotanabe/Kizu) are available. Additionally, there are some local trains that start from Yasu Station or Kusatsu Station, and also those that go to Kusatsu Station during the morning rush hour on weekdays.

The local trains operated below Shin-Sanda are seven-car trains of either Series 207 or Series 321. The local train makes a mutual connection with a special rapid that's operated on the JR Kyoto or Kobe Line at Osaka Station, and with another local train (Matsuiyamate - Nishi-Akashi) that directly goes to the JR Kobe Line via the JR Tozai Line at Amagasaki Station. Additionally, at Kawanishiikeda Station the local train makes a connection with a rapid train that starts from and terminates at Osaka Station and is operated directly to and from the JR Tozai Line (or it waits for a limited express train to pass) (some local trains wait for a rapid train to pass at Tsukaguchi Station in the morning rush hour).

For the section between Shin-Sanda and Sasayamaguchi, no local train services are available except early in the morning and late at night, so trains of the Tambaji Rapid Service and rapid trains that stop at every station in this section work as local trains. Basically, more rapid trains are operated than local trains between Amagasaki and Takarazuka, thereby resulting in the polarization of incoming and outgoing passenger patterns between the stops for local trains and rapid trains.

Moreover, some local trains that are operated between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama after being connected with a rapid train that runs between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi. Mainly in the daytime, a two-car local train of Series 113 runs approximately every hour without a conductor on board in the section between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama. There is a train whose number changes at Fukuchiyama Station, but it's operated from Kinosakionsen Station on the Sanin Main Line directly to Sasayamaguchi Station during the daytime. Among the local trains that operate between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama, two outbound trains operated early in the morning and an inbound train operated at night aren't connected with trains from or to the direction of Osaka.

Although trains that go directly to the JR Kyoto Line stop at Tsukamoto Station, trains that start from or terminate at Osaka Station and can be found early in the morning pass Tsukamoto Station without stopping. The Series 113, 207, 221 and 321 trains serve as local trains that start from and terminate at Osaka Station. However, only a few local trains of Series 221 are operated during the rush hour, while local trains with Train Series 113 are overwhelmingly present except for trains without conductors on board. There used to be some local trains that started from and terminated at Shin-Osaka Station only early in the morning and late at night (these local trains also passed Tsukamoto Station without stopping).

Consequent upon the timetable revision of March 15, 2008, all of the outbound trains (except for limited express trains and local trains bound for Sasayamaguchi) have been operated directly from the JR Tozai Line at a peak period in the rush hour in the weekday morning (between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.). Therefore, the number of cases where those trains connect with a local train that shuttled at Amagasaki Station has increased.

JR Takarazuka Line (Osaka - Amagasaki - Sasayamaguchi)

JR (West) Commuter Train Series 207 (rapid train and local train)

JR (West) Commuter Train Series 321 (local train)

JR (West) Suburban Train Series 221 (Tambaji Rapid Service, rapid train and local train)

JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 113 (rapid train and local train)

Sasayamaguchi - Fukuchiyama

Train Series 221: Used for rapid and local trains in the morning and evening.

Train Series 113: Used for morning and evening trains from Osaka and available for operations limited to a certain section throughout the day. Train numbers in the 3800s are exclusively used for operations limited to a certain section.

Limited express trains

JNR/JR Limited Express Series 183 (Limited Express 'Kitakinki' and 'Monju')

JNR/JR Diesel Car Type Kiha 65 (Special Limited Express Kani Kani Kitakinki and Kani Kani Express) used to be used for the Limited Express Edel-Kitakinki, Edel-Tango, Edel-Tottori and Express Daisen but is no longer operated periodically, as these trains have been discontinued.

KTR Limited Express (diesel car) Series KTR001 (Limited Express Tango Explorer)

NR/JR Limited Express Series 485 (Limited Express Kitakinki)

Rolling stock used in past years

JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 201 (local train)

JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 205 (local train)

JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 117 (rapid and local trains): Collectively used with the JR Nara Line up to 2001.

JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 103 (local train): Operated between April 1981 and August 2003. This series was also temporarily used after the resumption of operations instead of the Train Series 207, which was the train involved in the JR Fukuchiyama Line Train Derailment Accident, because many trains of that series needed to leave the scene of their work in order to be repainted.

KTR Limited Express (diesel car) Series KTR8000 (Limited Express Tango Discovery): 'Tango Discovery' was a name given to the trains that started from and terminated at Shin-Osaka Station from 1996 to 1999. The series was also used for the Limited Express Tango Explorer in place of the KTR Limited Express (diesel car) Series KTR001 between June 19, 2005 and March 17, 2007.

JNR/JR Diesel Cars Series Kiha 58 (Limited Express Edel-Kitakinki, Edel-Tango, Edel-Tottori, Express Daisen, Express Tango, local train)

JNR/JR Diesel Cars Series Kiha 40 (second generation) (rapid and local trains)

JNR/JR Limited Express (diesel car) Series Kiha 80 (Limited Express (Super) Matsukaze)

JNR/JR Limited Express (diesel car) Series Kiha 181 (Limited Express (Super) Matsukaze)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 12 (Express Daisen, local train)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 14 (Express Daisen)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 20 (Express Daisen)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series Oha 35 (local train)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series Suha 43 (local train)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 60 (local train)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 10 (local train)

JNR/JR Passenger Car Series 50 (local train)

Utilization of the Fukuchiyama Line

Fukuchiyama Line is a railway that connects Osaka with northern Kinki through Fukuchiyama Station north and south.

The Fukuchiyama Line used to be operated as a single-track local line.

There used to be many stations used by small numbers of passengers, but the numbers of passengers increased enormously, not only because the development along the line below Sasayamaguchi Station moved ahead at a fast pace as the line above Takarazuka was electrified and the line between Takarazuka and Shin-Sanda was double-tracked on November 1, 1986, but also because many passengers switched from the Hankyu Takarazuka Line of the Hankyu Railway and the Hankyu Itami Line (which lie in parallel with the Fukuchiyama Line) to the Fukuchiyama Line. The Fukuchiyama Line, which had fewer than 100 trains operated a day at the time of the inauguration of JR, started changing to a line with a tight railroad schedule and had over 360 trains a day after the inauguration of the JR Tozai Line in 1997 (which is still less tight than the schedule of the Hanwa Line or the Yamatoji Line that are double-tracked in the same way as the Fukuchiyama Line, but it is said that this tight schedule contributed to the JR Fukuchiyama Line Train Derailment Accident). Along with the double-tracked line below Sasayamaguchi Station, the number of trains has increased and access to Osaka Station has improved dramatically; moreover, the inauguration of the JR Tozai Line has provided good accessibility to Osaka City, eastern Osaka and the direction of Nara. The busiest railway station on the Fukuchiyama Line is Takarazuka Station, which was used by approximately 30,000 people a day in 2004. Other major stations used by more than 10,000 people a day include, in descending order, Itami Station (West Japan Railway Company), used by about 21,000 people; Kawanishiikeda Station, used by about 20,000 people; Sanda Station (Hyogo Prefecture), used by about 16,000 people; and Shin-Sanda Station, used by about 14,000 people. The number of users of the stations above Shin-Sanda, even in the Urban Network, is much lower than users of those major stations: the total amount of users of the seven stations remains at approximately 10,000.

Because there is a significant difference in the amount of users between the two sections, between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi and between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama, four cars are added to or disconnected from the rapid trains that run all the way through these sections at Sasayamaguchi station, so eight-car rapid trains are operated between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi while four-car rapid trains are operated between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama. Additionally, limited express trains may have four cars. Some cars are added to trains that run between Sasayamaguchi and Osaka during the morning rush hour for the inbound train and during the evening rush hour for the outbound train. Other trains that run all the way through the line consistently have either four cars or six cars from the starting station to the terminal.

The majority of the trains are those without conductors on board and limited express trains, and not only the number of trains operated an hour is only one limited express and one local train (a few local trains are available per hour during the rush hour) but there are many stations used by small numbers of passengers.

The Fukuchiyama Line features expensive fare for a JR line around Osaka because the line, including the section between Amagasaki and Takarazuka, wasn't included in the Osaka Train Specific Section in the JNR years.

Pre-nationalization

The Fukuchiyama Line was originally established as a horse tramway by Kawabe [Kawanobe] Basha Tetsudo and connected Amagasaki (later Amagasaki-ko) and Itami. Kawabe [Kawanobe] Basha Tetsudo later had a name change to Settsu Railway; the horse tramway was reconstructed into a light railway using steam power, and services started between Amagasaki and Ikeda (currently Kawanishiikeda). At that time, Ikeda Station was located near Kurehabashi-Nishizume.

The Settsu Railway merged with the Hankaku Railway, which was planning to build a railway from Osaka City to Maizuru City, and corrected its track gauge to extend the services to Takarazuka Station. After that, their services were gradually expanded and opened to traffic up to Fukuchiyama-Minamiguchi Station (near Horiuchida-cho) in 1899.

In 1904, the section between Fukuchiyama and Shin-Maizuru (currently Higashi-Maizuru Station) by way of Ayabe--which was rushed by the military in order to open to traffic up to the Maizuru army base as a military railway for the strategy against Russia--was opened to traffic under the control of the government. Hankaku Railway also expanded its services up to the present-day Fukuchiyama Station (Amata), and completed the railway line between Osaka and Maizuru by lending the section between Fukuchiyama and Shin-Maizuru.

Japan National Railways (JNR) era

Hankaku Railway was nationalized in 1907 and its railway line, including the portion under government control, was called the Hankaku Line; however, as the section on the Sanin Main Line between Kyoto and Izumoimaichi (currently Izumo City) was opened to traffic in 1912, the sections between Kanzaki (currently Amagasaki) and Fukuchiyama and between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki became known as the Fukuchiyama Line.

Although the railway line was designated as a semi-main line connecting Osaka and the direction of Sanin, the modernization (such as track improvement and electrification) was significantly delayed. Moreover, although not only JNR Steam Locomotive C54 class and JNR Diesel Locomotive Type DD54 had been assigned but also the Limited Express 'Matsukaze (train)' had been operated since 1961, given that the Limited Express 'Hamakaze (train),' which had been newly started in 1972, was changed to a train with a stopover in Himeji for reasons related to the reduction in operating hours, it was far from functioning as a semi-main line. Furthermore, the modernization of rail cars was also delayed significantly, as seen in the long-time use of outmoded passenger cars pulled by JNR Diesel Locomotive Type DD51 for the local trains (however, with a fatal accident in the early 1980s, in which an elementary school student who was leaning out of the window accidentally tumbled off the moving train between Namaze and Takedao, passenger cars that started from and terminated at Osaka Station were replaced with the JNR Passenger Car Series 12, equipped with automatic doors, when the timetable was revised in March 1985).

The modernization of maintenance started to progress in the late 1970s. In 1979 and 1980, the section between Tsukaguchi and Takarazuka was double-tracked in sequence, and in 1981 the section between Amagasaki and Takarazuka was completely electrified. Some mechanical semaphore signals were seen up to the early 1980s but disappeared because of the adoption of the Centralized Train Control system. However, despite such modernization the number of users increased very little and the local train, which had been operated with six cars of the JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 103 between Osaka and Takarazuka since the line up to Takarazuka was electrified, subsequently shifted to four-car operation. Because the local train was available only once every hour and only diesel-powered passenger cars were available above Takarazuka at that time, passengers who wanted to go from Sanda to Osaka often needed to change trains at Takarazuka Station and move to the Hankyu Takarazuka Line. Also, although the time needed to get to Osaka using the Fukuchiyama Line was approximately the same as that of the line using the Kobe Electric Railway (through Suzurandai and Shinkaichi because Hokushinkyuko Railway Hokushin Line was not yet open), far fewer trains were available per hour on the Fukuchiyama Line.

A drastic change for the Fukuchiyama Line came in 1986, when the section between Takarazuka and Shin-Sanda was double-tracked and all the sections up to Fukuchiyama were electrified (the electrification was extended to Kinosakionsen Station on the Sanin Main Line). Shortly before all the sections were electrified, the section between Namaze and Dojo, which was difficult to double-track because the railway lay along the Muko-gawa River gorge, was newly constructed as a double-track railway having successive tunnels. After the electrification, the operation of the Limited Express 'Kitakinki' started and the number of local trains available every hour during the day increased to three, mainly with two cars of the JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 113 (one for operation between Osaka and Fukuchiyama and two for operation between Osaka and Shin-Sanda); however, it wasn't sufficient to have two cars so many of the local trains were packed with too many passengers and experienced successive delays, thereby resulting in many complaints about, for example, bumped passengers, especially for the trains after 22:00 to the last train.

On the contrary, the service for passengers was stopped in 1981 and then the line was completely abandoned in 1984 on the section between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki-ko, known as Amagasaki-ko Line, which was first opened to traffic on the Fukuchiyama Line. The Amagasaki-ko Line had been a Mocho (cecum) line between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki-ko since the direct operation in the direction of Osaka was started in 1898 by constructing a connecting line to Amagasaki Station on the Tokaido Main Line. In its later years, the Amagasaki-ko Line had only two round-trip services a day for passengers.

After the privatization of JNR

Although some cars were added, many people living in the northern area in Nishinomiya City and Sanda City, in which a rapid increase in population was seen, asked that rapid trains be provided, and some rapid trains came on the scene after the privatization of JNR in 1989 (the section for the rapid train was only between Osaka and Sanda, which is the same as today). At this stage, no or only one limited express train, two rapid trains and four local trains became available on an hourly basis, which is almost the same as today.

In 1997, the double-track railway was completed up to Sasayamaguchi Station and direct operation with the JR Tozai Line and the Katamachi Line (Gakkentoshi Line) started.

In 2005, the derailment accident of a rapid train running between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki, known as the JR Fukuchiyama Line Train Derailment Accident, occurred and caused many deaths and injuries. This accident raised serious questions about the management practices of West Japan Railway Company as well as its employee management.

Chronology

September, 1891: Kawabe [Kawanobe] Basha Tetsudo was opened to traffic between Amagasaki and Itami.
Horse tramway

June, 1892: Kawabe [Kawanobe] Basha Tetsudo changed its name to Settsu Railway.

December 12, 1893: The track gauge was set to 762mm for light railway in the section between Amagasaki and Ikeda (8 miles and 35 chains (unit) ≒ 13.58km). Amagasaki Station (later Amagasaki-ko Station), (freight train) Nagasu Station, Itami Station and Ikeda Station (currently Kawanishiikeda Station) began operating.

Although it was a crossing at grade with the Tokaido Line in the horse tramway era, after the track gauge was corrected crossing became prohibited except for freight trains, so passengers had to walk and freight trains had to be moved by humans to cross Nagasu Station whose station yard was divided north and south..

March 6, 1894: Daimotsu Station and Tsukaguchi Station began operating.

February 16, 1897: Settsu Railway was merged into Hankaku Railway.

December 27: The section between Ikeda and Takarazuka (4M50C≒7.44 km) was extended to begin operating with a track gauge of 1067 mm. Nakayama Station (Nakayamadera Station) and Takarazuka Station began operating. Ikeda Station was redeployed.

December 28: The track gauge between Amagasaki and Ikeda was corrected to 1067mm and the operating kilometer was also shortened by 43C≒0.87km.

June 8, 1898: The sections between Takarazuka and Arimaguchi (1M11C≒1.83km) and between Kanzaki and Tsukaguchi (1M38C≒2.37km) were extended to begin operating. Arimaguchi Station (Namaze Station) began operating. The line was extended to Kanzaki Station (current Amagasaki Station) on the Tokaido Main Line. The section between Nagasu and Tsukaguchi (1M19C≒1.99 km) was discontinued, and the section between Amagasaki and Nagasu became an isolated section.

January 25, 1899: The section between Arimaguchi and Sanda (9M68C≒15.85km) was extended to begin operating. Takedao Station, Dojo Station and Sanda Station began operating.

March 25: The section between Sanda and Sasayama (15M29C≒24.72km) was extended to begin operating. Arimaguchi Station was renamed as Namaze Station. Hirono Station, Aino Station, Aimoto Station, Furuichi Station and Sasayama Station (currently Sasayamaguchi Station) began operating.

April 10: The operating kilometer was extended by 2C≒0.04km fully within the line.

May 25: The section between Sasayama and Kaibara (13M34C≒21.61km) was extended to begin operating. Oyama Station (Tamba-Oyama Station), Shimotaki Station, Tanikawa Station and Kaibara Station began operating.

July 15: The section between Kaibara and Fukuchiyama-Minamiguchi (15M68C≒25.51km) was extended to begin operating. Iso Station, Kuroi Station, Ichijima Station, Takeda Station (Tamba-Takeda Station) and Fukuchiyama-Minamiguchi Station (Fukuchi Station) began operating.

In 1900: The section between Amagasaki and Nagasu (1M58C≒2.78km) was adjourned.

November 12, 1902: The description (unit) of operating distance was simplified from "mile-chain" to "mile" (the section between Kanzaki and Fukuchiyama-Minamiguchi: 66M55C -> 66.7M).

April 30, 1903: The Hanabatake provisional train station began operating between Ikeda and Nakayama.

August 1: The Hanabatake provisional train station was discontinued.

November 1: Fukuchiyama-Minamiguchi Station was renamed as Fukuchi Station.

November 3, 1904: The section between Fukuchi and Fukuchiyama (0.7M≒1.13km) was extended to begin operating and connected to Fukuchiyama Station of the Japanese Imperial Government Railway. Hankaku Railway had the section of the Japanese Imperial Government Railway, which began its operation on the same day between Fukuchiyama and Shin-Maizuru (Higashi-Maizuru) via Ayabe, on a loaned basis.

July 13, 1905: The freight feeder line between Tsukaguchi and Nagasu (1.2M≒1.93km) and the section between Nagasu and Amagasaki (1.7M≒2.76km) were restarted and crossed the Tokaido Line by means of overpasses and underpasses. Amagasaki Station restarted its operation. Daimotsu Station and (freight train) Nagasu Station were discontinued.

August 1, 1907: Hankaku Railway was nationalized.

November 1: The operating distance (kilometer) between Kanzaki and Fukuchiyama was shortened by 0.4M≒0.64km.

October 1, 1909: Fukuchi Station was discontinued.

October 12: Some sections, including those between Kanzaki and Shin-Maizuru (Higashi-Maizuru) via Fukuchiyama and between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki, were designated as being of the Hankaku Line.

September 6, 1911: Services for passengers in the section between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki were restarted. The Kanzaki platform began operating.

November 1: Takeda Station was renamed as Tamba-Takeda Station.

March 1, 1912: The sections between Kanzaki and Fukuchiyama and between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki were separated from the Hankaku Line and designated as being of the Fukuchiyama Line.

April 16: Kinrakuji Station began operating on the feeder line.

September 1, 1913: Sogawa Station began operating.

September 11, 1915: Nakayama Station was renamed as Nakayamadera Station.

May 1, 1917: Oyama Station was renamed as Tamba-Oyama Station.

May 15, 1918: The Inagawa temporary signal station was installed between Itami and Ikeda.

September 13: The Inagawa temporary signal station was discontinued.

March 15, 1926: Services for passengers at Sogawa Station were discontinued.

April 1, 1930: The description (unit) of operating distance was changed from "mile" to "meters" (the section between Kanzaki and Fukuchiyama: 67M -> 108.3km, between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki: 2.9M -> 4.6km).

May 15, 1934: The section between Kanzaki and Tsukaguchi was double-tracked.

March1, 1944: Sasayama Station was renamed as Sasayamaguchi Station.

April 1: Kita-Itami Station began operating.

January 1, 1949: Kanzaki Station, Amagasaki Station and Kanzaki Platform changed their names to Amagasaki Station, Amagasaki-ko Station and Amagasaki Platform, respectively.

August 1, 1951: Ikeda Station was renamed as Kawanishiikeda Station.

October 24, 1955: Minami-Yashiro Station began operating.

November 19, 1956: The section between Amagasaki and Tsukaguchi was electrified.

March 27, 1958: Kusano Station began operating.

October 1, 1961: The Limited Express 'Kitakinki' began operating.

April 30, 1969: Amagasaki Platform was merged into Amagasaki Station on paper and designated as the Amagasaki temporary platform.

July 1, 1979: (Freight train) Sogawa Station was discontinued.

September 27: The section between Tsukaguchi and Kita-Itami was double-tracked.

September 3, 1980: Kawanishiikeda Station was moved 0.2 km toward the direction of Kita-Itami.

December 5: The section between Kita-Itami and Nakayamadera was double-tracked.

December 11: The section between Nakayamadera and Takarazuka was double-tracked.

April 1, 1981: The section between Tsukaguchi and Takarazuka was electrified. Inadera Station began operating. Services for passengers in the section between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki-ko were discontinued. Kinrakuji Station and the Amagasaki temporary platform were discontinued.

February 27, 1982: The CTC system was adopted in the section between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama.

February 1, 1984: The freight feeder line (Amagasaki-ko Line) between Tsukaguchi and Amagasaki-ko (4.6 km) was discontinued, and (freight train) Amagasaki-ko Station was discontinued.

March 10: The CTC system was adopted in the section between Hirono and Sasayamaguchi.

August 1, 1986: The section between Takarazuka and Sanda was double-tracked. The section between Namaze and Dojo was switched to a new line and shortened by 1.8 Km.

October 15: The section between Sanda and Shin-Sanda was double-tracked. The CTC system was adopted in the section between Amagasaki and Hirono.

November 1: The section between Takarazuka and Fukuchiyama was electrified, and consequently the entire line was electrified. Nishinomiyanajio Station and Shin-Sanda Station began operating. Freight car services were discontinued throughout the line. The operation of the L-Limited Express 'Kitakinki' began. The operation of Limited Express 'Matsukaze' was discontinued.

April 1, 1987: West Japan Railway Company succeeded the line upon the privatization of Japanese National Railways.

March 13, 1988: The line between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi began to be referred to fondly as the "JR Takarazuka Line." The 'Hokusetsu Liner' began operating between Osaka and Sasayamaguchi.

The "JR Takarazuka Line" was first used for the line up to Shin-Sanda; however, people in Taki-gun (Sasayama City) complained about it and the section was extended to Sasayamaguchi.

March 18, 1993: The JR (West) Commuter Train Series 207 was introduced.

December 1, 1996: The section between Hirono and Furuichi was double-tracked.

March 8, 1997: The sections between Shin-Sanda and Hirono and between Furuichi and Sasayamaguchi were double-tracked. The operation that connected the line with the Katamachi Line through the JR Tozai Line began.

September 1: The local train services began running directly to the JR Kyoto Line. Accordingly, JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 201 and 205 came into use.

March 11, 2000: The Tambaji Rapid Service began operating.

December 2: The operation without a conductor on board began for some trains that ran between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama.

October 5, 2002: The 'Hokusetsu Liner' was discontinued.

August 2003: The JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 103 was discontinued.

December 1, 2003: Nakayamadera Station was added to the stations at which rapid trains stopped.

October 16, 2004: The Express 'Daisen' was discontinued. Night-train services disappeared completely.

April 25, 2005: The JR Fukuchiyama Line Train Derailment Accident occurred between Amagasaki and Tsukaguchi. The accident was a catastrophe in which 107 people were killed and 555 people were injured. Accordingly, the line between Amagasaki and Tsukaguchi was interrupted for quite a while. For more information, refer to the article on the JR Fukuchiyama Line Train Derailment Accident.

June 19: The operation between Amagasaki and Takarazuka was resumed. The ATS-P system was introduced in the section between Amagasaki and Shin-Sanda. The KTR Limited Express (diesel car) Series KTR001 and JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 117 were discontinued.

November 26: The line near Fukuchiyama Station was elevated.

December 1: The JR (West) Commuter Train Series 321 came into use.

February 2006: The Train Series 205 was discontinued. The series was transferred to the Hanwa Line.

March 2007: The Train Series 201 was discontinued. The ATS-P system was installed in the train of KTR Diesel Cars Series 001, and its operation was resumed.

Access from Itami Station to the airport

Although Osaka Monorail Co., Ltd., currently has a direct connection with Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), no JR line has been extended to the airport. There is a concept called the 'JR Fukuchiyama Line Branch Track Plan,' in which an airport access railway from JR Itami Station to the nearby Itami Airport would be constructed. This idea was proposed by a group of officials in the early 1990's, but it can be said that the possibility is very low because users would have to cross the runway (which in turn crosses over the Ina-gawa River) via a subway train and the line would have to make a big detour, and thus a huge construction expense would be required (while no realistic proposal about, for example, the construction force and financing has been made). Moreover, some have expressed disagreement with this idea because it could drive Osaka Monorail Co., Ltd., into a corner, which still needs to have its huge construction cost reimbursed. Because the Hankyu Railway provides Rapid Express (express) trains that connect to Osaka Monorail at Hotarugaike Station for the sake of improved access, the time required to reach the city center has been reduced, and thus it can be said that "JR Fukuchiyama Line Branch Track Plan" has been replaced by this route.

New station projects

A new station construction project on the section between Nakayamadera and Takarazuka has been planned. It is expected to increase the number of users of the Fukuchiyama Line.

The prevalence and current situation of the double-track section above Sasayamaguchi Station

Tamba City has asked West Japan Railway Company to double-track the section between Sasayamaguchi and Fukuchiyama, which is currently single-tracked. Tamba City has been helping users who are party travelers with their group rates, and Hyogo Prefecture has implemented a pilot program in which fares for limited express trains were subsidized. Hyogo Prefecture has promoted the slogan, 'Let's encourage double-tracking through the use of the Fukuchiyama Line' among residents. However, the ridership on this section between Tamba-Oyama Station and Tamba-Takeda Station per day in the fiscal 2003, even as the figures for all eight stations on the section were added up, accounted for about 3,600 people, most of whom were high-school students; and furthermore, the ridership above Sasayamaguchi Station has shown a downward trend. Moreover, while the average distance between stations on the section between Amagasaki Station and Sasayamaguchi Station is approximately 2.9 km (the average distance between stations for rapid trains is about 4.1 km), the figure indicates approximately 5.3 km on the section between Sasayamaguchi Station and Fukuchiyama Station, where quite a few people live along the Fukuchiyama Line but are still far from a station. Additionally, the rapid trains (including those of Tambaji Rapid Service) stop every station on the 72.8-km section above Sanda Station, which accounts for approximately 68% of the total operation kilometers of the Fukuchiyama Line, thereby resulting in poor convenience and promptness as well as the high fare of taking a limited express train. Consequently, many people living in this section use their cars as a means of transportation instead of taking a train. Given the fact that the railway lies in the mountains, it will be difficult to double-track this section.

People have often examined the idea of moving the section to a route whereby the train crosses Kanegasaka pass along National Route 176 without stopping at Tanikawa Station because of the following three reasons: operation through Tanikawa Station in this section means an indirect path to run the train between Sasayamaguchi Station and Kaibara Station, the train can't pick up speed due to many sharp curves along Kawashiro Gorge, and this section has difficulties from the perspective of disaster prevention such as in the case of a landslide; accordingly, it seems very difficult to build a new route, given the manner in which this section has been used. The reason that a banner calling for 'double-tracking without changing the route' can be seen at Tanikawa Station is probably because the section between Tamba-Oyama Station or Shimotaki Station and Tanikawa Station will be dead track if the railway is moved to a route through old Nishiki-cho.

Discontinued sections (Amagasaki-ko Line)

* The section just before services for passengers were discontinued in 1981. Amagasaki Station of the Amagasaki-ko Line was approximately 300 m away from Amagasaki Station of the Tokaido Main Line. The actual distance between Tsukaguchi Station and Amagasaki Station was about 1.9 km, but this distance was set up in accordance with that for the Tokaido Main Line.

Discontinued stations and signal stations

This excludes stations on the discontinued section (Amagasaki-ko Line).

Main line (the figure in parentheses represents the operation kilometer from Amagasaki Station)

Inagawa signal station: Discontinued in 1918 between Itami and Kita-Itami (about 7.3 km)

Hanabatake provisional train station: Discontinued in 1903 between Kawanishiikeda and Nakayamadera (about 13.4 km)

Sogawa Station: Discontinued in 1979 between Takarazuka and Namaze (about 18.5 km)

Fukuchi Station: Discontinued in 1909 between Tamba-Takeda and Fukuchiyama (about 100.6 km)

Amagasaki-ko Line (the figure in parentheses represents the operation kilometer from Tsukaguchi Station)

Nagasu Station: Discontinued in 1905 between Tsukaguchi and Kinrakuji (about 1.9 km)

Daimotsu Station: Discontinued in 1905 between Kinrakuji and Amagasaki-ko (about 3.7 km)

Connected railways in the past

The information including names is current as of the time of discontinuation.

Kawanishiikeda Station on the Myoken Line, owned by Nose Electric Railway Co., Ltd. (Nose Electric Railway before JNR) (Kawanishi-Kokutetsumae Station): Discontinued on December 20, 1981

Sanda Station on the JNR Arima Line: Suspended on July 1, 1943.

Sasayamaguchi Station:

JNR Sasayama Line: Discontinued on March 1, 1972.

Sasayama Railway (Sasayama Station): Discontinued on March 21, 1944.

Fukuchiyama Station of the Hokutan Railway: Suspended on March 2, 1971 and discontinued on February 28, 1974.