Jr Kyoto Line (JR京都線)

JR Kyoto-sen (JR Kyoto Line) is the unofficial name given to the section of the Tokaido Main Line of the West Japan Railway (JR West) that runs between Kyoto Station and Osaka Station. This name has been used since March 13, 1988. The prefix "JR" had to be added to "Kyoto Line" in this unofficial name to prevent confusion as this line connects with the Hankyu Kyoto Line, operated by the Hankyu Corporation (nearly all of which runs in parallel with the JR Kyoto Line), at Osaka (Umeda) Station and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line, operated by the Kintetsu Corporation, at Kyoto Station.

Together with the JR Kobe Line, this line is considered to be one of the company's main lines so it is color-coded in blue, which is the company's corporate color.

Summary

The line runs on the right bank of the Yodo-gawa River in parallel with the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Hankyu Kyoto Line, and the special rapid connects the distance of 42.8 km between Kyoto and Osaka in 28 minutes in the shortest time (at a maximum speed of 130 km/h). The entire section has a quadruple track in each direction (outer and inner lines).

J-THRU/ICOCA, Suica of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and TOICA of the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), as well as PiTaPa of KANSAI THRU PASS, can be used at all stations on the JR Kyoto Line.

The Hanwa Line's train operation management system has been introduced throughout the line.

Train operation

It is operated integrally with the JR Kobe Line and the Biwako Line. Not only the special rapids, rapid services and local trains (Keihanshin Kankosen), which are directly connected to the JR Kobe and Biwako lines, but also the limited express trains bound for the Hokuriku District, Kansai International Airport, or the Sanin District, etc., run on the line. Nearly half of the local trains share the same track with the Fukuchiyama Line to Shin-Sanda Station.

Higher-category trains

With the privatization to JR, many trains (as follows) started going through to Kyoto Station: the overnight train service bound for Kyushu, which was departing from and arriving at Shin-Osaka; the limited express starting from Tennoji Station for Nanki; and the limited express 'Hakuto,' bound for Sanin district, which started operation with the establishment of Chizu Express Co., Ltd., thus generating a dramatic increase in the number of trains running in this section. Particularly, the airport express 'Haruka,' which began operating with the inauguration of Kansai International Airport, started going through to Kyoto on a regular basis within one year, and the section between Shin-Osaka and Kyoto has become a limited express highway where, together with other trains such as the limited express 'Raicho' bound for the Hokuriku District, about four limited trains run every hour. On the other hand, the overnight express service for Kyushu, which departed from and arrived at Kyoto, was completely abolished when the timetable was revised on March 15, 2008.

Moreover, the outbound limited express trains starting from Shin-Osaka and entering to the Hanwa Line through the Osaka loop Line, such as the airport express 'Haruka' and limited express 'Kuroshio,' enter the freight line at the Ibaraki Station Yard (departure number 3) and proceed to Shin-Osaka Station via Suita signal station. That is why it takes a little more time than the limited express or special rapids running on the outer line of the same section, and in a certain time slot two limited express trains proceed onto the tracks at the same time at Shin-Osaka Station.

Over nearly the entire section between Kyoto and Osaka, the line has extremely good lineation that permits the train to run at 130 km/h in the outer line, except for some curved sections. The inner line also permits the trains to run at 120 km/h, but higher-category trains don't use the inner line (except deadheads or special trains).

The following are the higher-category trains that run on this section of the line.

― The overnight train services 'Fuji,' 'Hayabusa' (between Tokyo and Oita/Kumamoto)

― The overnight train services '(Sunrise) Seto,' '(Sunrise) Izumo' (between Tokyo and Takamatsu/Izumo City)

― The overnight train service 'Nihonkai' (between Aomori and Osaka)

― The overnight train service 'Twilight Express' (between Sapporo and Osaka)

― The express 'Kitaguni' (between Niigata and Osaka)

― The limited express 'Raicho' (between Kanazawa and Osaka)

― The limited express 'Raicho' (between Uozu/Toyama/Wakuraonsen and Osaka)

― The limited express 'Biwako Express' (Maibara and Osaka)

― The airport express 'Haruka' (between Maibara/Kusatsu and Kansai International Airport)

― The limited express 'Shinano' (between Nagano and Osaka)

― The limited express 'Hida' (between Takayama and Osaka)

― The limited express 'Kuroshio' (between Kyoto and Shingu)

― The limited express 'Kuroshio' (between Kyoto and Shingu)

― The limited express 'Kuroshio' (between Kyoto and Shingu)

― The limited express 'Hakuto' (between Kyoto and Tottori/Kurayoshi)

In addition, the 'Hamakaze,' 'Tanba' and 'Kitakinki' limited express trains use this spur track to enter and leave the depot when they're deadheaded to Mukomachi Station (Kyoto General Operation Station). On the other hand, the 'Thunderbird,' 'Raicho' and 'Kitaguni' limited express trains proceed via the Hoppo Freight Line when they're deadheaded in the section between Mukomachi Station and Osaka Station. When the outbound train that ends at Osaka Station is deadheaded to the depot of Kyoto General Operation Station, it goes outbound from Osaka Station, and after passing Tsukamoto Station it enters the Hoppo Freight Line from the west side in order to directly join the JR Kyoto Line (outer line) (and to start from the depot, the train turns back on the same route). Therefore, when the train enters or leaves the depot, the unit of cars becomes inverted.

Special Rapid Service

The special rapid service proceeding from the direction of Himeji Station on the JR Kobe Line or Aboshi /Kamigori /Ako stations on the Sanyo Main Line goes through to Nagahama Station on the Biwako Line or Omi-Shiotsu /Tsuruga stations on the Hokuriku Main Line, passing through the JR Kyoto Line. From the daytime to the nighttime, the train runs every 15 minutes, and out of the trains bound for Kyoto Station one goes through to the Kosei Line while the other three go through to the Biwako Line during the daytime. During the nighttime, all four trains go through to the Biwako Line.

All trains use the cars of the JR (West) Suburban Train Series 223, model No. 1000s or the JR (West) Suburban Train Series 223, model No. 2000s, and they're operated in units of eight or 12 cars. The trains consist of 12 cars during the morning rush hour. Between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka the trains run on the outer line, and between Shin-Osaka and Osaka the trains run on the inner line (but some trains run on the outer line during the morning rush hour). Except for early in the morning and late at night, the special rapid service arrives first in the section between Osaka Station and Kyoto Station.

For the details of the initial stage of the operation and the transition of the rolling stock used, please refer to the "Special Rapid Service" section.

Rapid Service

The rapid service trains go through to the Biwako Line after passing Kyoto, while from Osaka they go through to the JR Kobe Line except for certain hours of the morning.

JR (West) Suburban Train Series 221/223, model No. 1000s/2000s, or JR (West) Suburban Train Series 223, model No. 6000s (Aboshi Trains belong to the Aboshi General Rolling Stock Station) are used in units of six, eight, ten or 12 cars.

The trains run on the inner line at a maximum speed of 120 km/h. Early in the morning and during the morning rush, some trains run on the outer line from Osaka to Takatsuki and from Kyoto to Osaka, and among them some trains using the Train Series 223 accelerate to 130 km/h.

Except for early in the morning, during the morning rush and late at night the rapid service is overtaken by the special rapid service in the vicinity of Yamazaki Station (Kyoto Prefecture). It also connects with local shuttle trains at Takatsuki Station.

The crew named it 'T-den (T-train)', after the final letter of the train code number.

Its roots are traced to the express train called Kansai Kyuden, which ran between Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Operation started in 1937, when the express train between Osaka and Kobe extended its service to Kyoto thanks to the electrification of the railroad between Kyoto and Suita. Although the operation was temporarily suspended during the war, it was subsequently restored. At that time, the operation between Osaka and Kyoto was nonstop.

1956: With the electrification of the railroad between Maibara and Kyoto, the operation was extended to the east of Kyoto, using the existing tracks.

1957: With the reform of Takatsuki Station Yard (opening of Takatsuki railway section), the trains began making stops at Takatsuki Station.

1961: The then second-class cars (currently first-class cars) were connected to the unit.

October 1964: With the inauguration of the Shinkansen, Shin-Osaka Station went into operation and the trains began making stops at Shin-Osaka Station.

February 1965: With the introduction of the JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 113, the trains of the Series 80 started being replaced. Basically, the train is seven cars long, with four adjunctive cars (the trains are basically seven cars long, but four more cars can be attached).

October 1966: With the introduction of Sa-Ro 110, the coupled second-class cars were replaced with those of the Train Series 113. Basically, the train is eight cars long in the Takatsuki and Miyahara sections, and seven cars long in the Akashi section.

March 1970: Due to the celebration of Osaka Expo, the trains tentatively made stops at Ibaraki Station during the period of the exposition. A campaign arose asking to maintain a stop at the station, and it achieved the regular stop of trains even after the Osaka Expo.

July 1974: The Kosei Line started operation. Some of the trains started going through to the Kosei Line.

October 1980: The coupling of first-class cars was discontinued. Although the first-class cars were officially abolished with the October revision, at the end of August the mark of the first-class cars had been removed from the timetable, and the coupled first-class cars were opened to passengers as ordinary cars. The first-class cars uncoupled from the units were sent to the Tokyo District. The train was standardized so that it was basically seven cars long.

October, 1981: A Sa-Ha 111 was coupled onto the unit used in the Takatsuki section, making the train basically eight cars long.

1984: It was decided that the rapid service trains should make stops at all stations as local trains during the daytime. Since then, the rapid service trains making stops at all stations have increased in the section from Takatsuki Station and to the east, and currently the trains make stops at all stations between Kyoto Station and Takatsuki Station except for early in the morning, during the morning rush and late at night. Therefore, in the east of Takatsuki these trains are usually indicated and announced as local trains at stations as well as by the conductors.

March 1989: The introduction of Train Series 221 began.

June 1995: Some of the rapid service trains, which passed through between Kyoto Station and Takatsuki Station during the nonstop time slot, began making stops at Kotari Station (currently Nagaokakyo Station).

September 1995: The rapid service trains began making stops at Nagaokakyo Station throughout the day during the weekdays.

March 1996: All rapid service trains began making stops at Nagaokakyo Station.

October 2004: The regular operation of Train Series 113 was withdrawn.

Local train

When Shinkansen Okayama Station started operation on March 15, 1972, the timetable was revised and a new timetable with a 15-minute daytime interval pattern was made. For example, the inbound trains from Osaka Station depart in the following order: Special Rapid Service, Rapid Service (letting the connecting Special Rapid Service pass at Osaka Station) and Local Train (from Koshienguchi Station to Kyoto Station), Local Train (from Nishi-Akashi Station to Suita Station). The local trains were divided into two routes: departure/arrival at Suita Station and at Koshienguchi Station, because if all the trains were to run straight between Nishi-Akashi Station and Kyoto Station they would be unable to escape from the special rapid running on the inner line, which was at that time a shared lane. As a result, the local train was arranged to pass every 15 minutes in the section between Kyoto Station and Kishibe Station.

In March 1985, the rapid service running during the daytime began making stops at all stations between Kyoto and Takatsuki; consequently, during the daytime the rapid service became available only from Takatsuki Station and to the west. The introduction of the JNR/JR Commuter Train Series 201 effectively sped up the local trains and allowed them to reach one of the shunting stations to let special rapid service trains pass without being caught, thereby offering services between Takatsuki and Nishi-Akashi and between Suita and Koshienguchi. With the revision of November 1986, the track of the special rapid servie was changed to run on the outer line, and not only it started running between Takatsuki and Nishi-Akashi/Takatsuki and Kobe, but also it enhanced the service between Takatsuki and Kishibe by offering two trains every 15 minutes. In September 1997, with the opening of the Kyoto Station building, the revision was made based on the possible increase of passengers, and the Takatsuki-Kobe route--which was extended to cover the section between Kyoto and Takatsuki--allowed passengers to use two trains in 15 minutes at every station on the Kyoto Line. The route between Takatsuki Station and Nishi-Akashi Station was also changed to the route that connects Takatsuki Station with Shin-Sanda Station on the JR Takarazuka Line.

Currently, the daytime pattern is applied to nighttime operation and a train runs every 15 minutes on the route between Kyoto and Nishi-Akashi (during the daytime some trains go only as far as Suma Station) as well as the route between Takatsuki and Shin-Sanda, which connects directly with the JR Takarazuka Line. Early in the morning and late at night, there are trains going through to Yasu Station on the Biwako Line, Katata Station/Omi-Maiko Station on the Kosei Line, or to Kakogawa Station on the JR Kobe Line. They run on the inner line.

As for the types of trains, JR (West) Commuter Train Series 207 and JR (West) Commuter Train Series 321, belonging to the Quality Control Center of Aboshi General Rolling Stock Yard, are used and operated with seven cars.

To distinguish the local trains from others on the timetable, the letter C is attached to the end of the local train number (for holidays the letter B is used).
Therefore, it is commonly known as 'C-Den (C-train).'

On the other hand, it is also often called the Keihanshin Kankosen (slow line), just as it has since the time of the former Japan National Railways. For the changes of operation and the rotation of rolling stock, please refer to the following section.

Freight train

In the section between Ibaraki and Senrioka there is a junction (now part of the Ibaraki Station yard), from which the freight train is directed to Suita signal station using the freight line.

The through freight train running between the Tokaido Line and the Sanyo Line takes the line known as the Hoppo Freight Line via Suita signal station, Miyahara Switching Yard (which was integrated into the Miyahara General Operation Office in 1998) and JR West Amagasaki Station, but it does not pass Osaka Station.

The freight train for Ajigawa-guchi Station on the Sakurajima Line goes through Suita signal station and Umeda Freight Station, then proceeds on the Umeda Freight Line that leads to Nishi-Kujo Station of the Osaka Loop Line.

Moreover, this freight line is used in the operation of traveler trains. The trains heading for the direction of Nanki/Kansai International Airport take a route that incorporates the Osaka Loop Line through Suita signal station and the Umeda Freight Line. Additionally, outbound trains that start from the platforms of Kyoto Sanin Line (Platform No. 30 for Haruka, etc.) pass through the Umekoji Freight Station, and consequently this route is sometimes called the Haruka (faraway) route.

At one time a special direct train was operated to Saga-Arashiyama Station from Kobe and Osaka, making use of a bypass lane that proceeded directly to the Tanbaguchi Station of the Sanin Main Line (Sagano Line) from the Umekoji Station Yard, but it has not been fixed due to inconveniences such as the fact that many passengers had happened to take the train by mistake.