Keifuku Electric Railroad (京福電気鉄道)

Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd. is a company that operates a tramway business (electric tramway), cable cars and cableways in Kyoto City. Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., is listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange.

Summary

The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., once operated a railway business in Fukui Prefecture, but since the 2003 transfer of the railway business to the Echizen Railway the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., has only operated a tramway business in Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a small real-estate business in Fukui Prefecture. Subsequently, the Arashiyama Main Line and Kitano Line have remained as a tramway business operated by the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., which are fondly called 'Randen,' an official nickname used since March 2007.

The company name Keifuku (京福) was named after Kyoto (Kei: 京) Prefecture and Fukui (Fuku: 福) Prefecture, where the company once operated the railway business; however, there was no plan to build a railway connecting Kyoto and Fukui prefectures. The company name, Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., originated from the 'Keifuku Power Line' which was provided by the Kyoto Dento, an electric power company (the former Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd.), to mutually transmit power between the prefectures of Kyoto and Fukui, since Kyoto (e.g., Gion) had a large power demand during the night but Fukui had a large power demand during the day for the operation of textile facilities.

The company actively competed with the Keihan Electric Railway during the Taisho period, but later it accepted the capital; the Keihan Electric Railway, belonging to the Keihan Group, owns 42.89% of the shares as of March 31, 2007. The Ministry of Finance (Japan) also owns 8.33% of the shares as a major shareholder, consequent upon the payment of inheritance tax in kind following the death of an individual shareholder. Thus the company is categorized as a joint public-private venture; however, as the company is owned by the Ministry of Finance (but not for the purpose of participation in management), it's usually referred to as a private company.

The company owns Mikuni Kyotei, a boat-racing stadium, in Fukui Prefecture.

History

The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., was established in 1942 to succeed the railway and tramway business that was operated by the Kyoto Dento in Kyoto Prefecture (Arashiyama, Kitano and Eizan lines) and Fukui Prefecture (Echizen Electric Railway Line), with the dissolution of the Kyoto Dento to transfer the power-distribution business to the Kansai-haiden Power Distribution (関西配電) (a predecessor of the Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc.) and the Hokuriku-haiden Power Distribution (北陸配電) (a predecessor of the Hokuriku Electric Power Company), and the electric generation and transmission business to the Japan Electric Generation and Transmission Company (日本発送電) under the power distribution control law (配電統制令); in the same year, the collateral companies, the Kurama Electric Railway and the Mikuni Awara Electric Railway (三国芦原電鉄), were merged into the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd.

In 1944, the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd. merged the Eiheiji Railway and the Maruoka Railway (丸岡鉄道) as well, thereby taking ownership of as much as 120.0 km of railway in Kyoto and Fukui prefectures by around 1950; however, with the development of motorization the company streamlined the businesses from the 1960s to the '80s with the abandonment of unprofitable lines and sections or by spinning off the Eizan Main Line and Kurama Line into the Eizan-dentetsu (Eizan Railway Line).

In December 2000 and June 2001, within a period of only six months, the Keifuku Electric Railroad suffered two frontal impact accidents of trains on the Echizen Main Line in Fukui Prefecture (refer to the section concerning train crashes on the Echizen Main Line of the Keifuku Electric Railroad) and was therefore ordered by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to hold up the train operation on the lines in the Fukui area. Given the difficulty of continuing the business, the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., transferred its railway business (the Echizen Main Line and Mikuni-awara Line) operated in the Fukui area to the Echizen Railway in 2003, thus withdrawing from the railway business.

As the weak operations of the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., were brought to light by the withdrawal from the Echizen Main Line, all the shares of the Eizan Electric Railway were sold to the Keihan Electric Railway in 2002 (which was supposedly a remedy taken by the parent company, the Keihan Electric Railway). Accordingly, the Eizan Electric Railway became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Keihan Electric Railway.

The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., suffered a train frontal impact accident in the past on the Kurama Line in January 1964; and in August 1964, only seven months after the accident, it suffered another train crash in which a passenger train hit a freight train near Hossaka on the Echizen Main Line. Also, the bus division suffered a deadly accident in October 1985, in which a two-level sightseeing bus broke through the guardrail of the Chuo Jidosha-do Expressway and tumbled onto the prefectural road, killing three passengers and injuring 57 more; the driver killed himself at the scene.

The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., operates small businesses, all of which are less profitable because they can't take advantage of scale; therefore, its operating foundations have historically been fragile. Accordingly, some point out that sufficient investments for safety and safety management might have prevented the accidents.

History

March 2, 1942: The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., was established. The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., succeeded the railway and tramway business of Kyoto Dento.

August 1, 1942: The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., merged the Kurama Electric Railway and the Mikuni Awara Electric Railway (三国芦原電鉄). The Kurama and Mikuni-awara lines were opened.

December 1, 1944: The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., merged the Eiheiji Railway and the Maruoka Railway. The Eiheiji and Maruoka lines were opened.

August 1, 1963: The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., merged the Fukui Prefecture Share-Ride Cars in order to directly manage the bus business operated in the Fukui area.

July 11, 1968: The Maruoka Line was abandoned.

October 19, 1978: Trolley poles (power collectors) of the Eizan Main Line and Kurama Line were replaced with pantographs. They were the last trolley poles in Japan on a typical tramway, except for trolley buses.

July 6, 1985: The Eizan Electric Railway Co., Ltd., was established as a wholly owned subsidiary.

April 1, 1986: The Eizan Main Line and Kurama Line were transferred to the Eizan Electric Railway.

April 1, 2000: The bus business directly operated in the Fukui area was transferred to the subsidiary, Maruoka Bus. The Maruoka Bus was renamed as Keifuku Bus.

December 17, 2000: A frontal-impact accident occurred between Shiizakai and Higashi-furuichi (the current Eiheiji-guchi) on the Echizen Main Line. The driver was killed.

June 24, 2001: A frontal-impact accident occurred between Hota and Hossaka on the Echizen Main Line. Train operations on the lines in the Fukui area were halted.

October 21, 2002: The Eiheiji Line was discontinued.

February 1, 2003: The railway business in the Fukui area was transferred to the Echizen Railway (all the lines had previously been discontinued).

March 19, 2007: The station numbering began on the Arashiyama Main Line and Kitano Line; seven stations were renamed. The list of railway line colors in Japan was officially introduced (station numbers and line colors had previously been used at some stations on the Kitano Line).

April 1, 2008: Shijo-Omiya, Arashiyama, Katabiranotsuji, and Kitano-Hakubaicho stations adopted melodies for the departures of trains.

Existing lines

Keifuku Electric Railroad, Arashiyama Main Line A

Keifuku Electric Railroad, Arashiyama Main Line B

Keifuku Electric Railroad, Cable Car Line (Eizan Cable Railway)

Eizan Ropeway

The alphabet following the line name expresses the line and the line color. In the official website of the Keifuku Electric Railroad, the Arashiyama Main Line and the Kitano Line are collectively called the Arashiyama Line.

Transferred or abandoned lines

Eizan Main Line (currently the Eizan Main Line operated by the Eizan Electric Railway)

Kurama Line (currently the Kurama Line operated by the Eizan Electric Railway)

Echizen Main Line (currently the Katsuyama-eiheiji Line operated by the Echizen Railway)

Mikuni-awara Line (currently the Mikuni-awara Line operated by the Echizen Railway)

Keifuku Electric Railroad, Eiheiji Line

Keifuku Electric Railroad, Maruoka Line

Rolling stock

The Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., has developed cars with various body designs, but all such cars are identical in performance; in the late 1990s, nose suspended drive cars with automatic acceleration control were introduced, following the main equipment of Keifuku Electric Railroad MOBO Type 101. This is unusual for a railway business operator. However, the latest Keifuku Electric Railroad MOBO Type 2001 adopts WN parallel cardan jointed drive and "Variable Voltage Variable Frequency Control," which are the latest technologies.

As for the cars employed on the Eizan Main Line and Kurama Line, refer to the section on the Eizan Electric Railway; regarding the cars employed by the old Fukui Railway Department, refer to the section on the Echizen Railway.

Fares

The Arashiyama Main Line and Kitano Line employ a flat fare throughout their lines: adults are 200 yen each, and children are 100 yen each (revised on July 1, 2002). These lines formerly had distance-based fares (180 yen, 210 yen and 230 yen), but along with the participation in the KANSAI THRU PASS they adopted a flat-fare system on July 1, 2002, so that the processing of a card is performed only once, as the passenger leaves the train. At the same time, ticket issuing machines installed on the cars became unused and were consequently removed. Incidentally, the distance-based system is still employed for the commuter pass.

There is no ticket gate for passengers who will board the train; instead, when leaving the train passengers are required to pay fares at the ticket gates of manned stations (Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama, Kitano-Hakubaicho Stations) or pay the fare to the driver or show the driver their commuter pass at unmanned stations. Passengers can pay with cash or buy either regular tickets or commutation tickets in advance at manned stations.

For the KANSAI THRU PASS card, the passenger swipes the card through a reader when getting off the train at an unmanned station, which is the same as that installed in a collection box on a route bus. At a manned station, the passenger swipes the card through a reader installed at the ticket gate.

The aforementioned four manned stations, the stores in front of Randen-Saga Station and certain hotels sell 'Randen One-day open tickets for Arashiyama,' a daily unlimited ride card available at all stations, at 500 yen (250 yen per child). This ticket is relatively inexpensive if passengers ride on the train more than two times per day; additionally, the accompanying coupon offers a discount for an entrance fee at a shrine, temple or sightseeing facility, as well as a little gift. To use the ticket after the purchase in advance, users can decide the date of use and mark the ticket by scratching it.

In 2008, with the extension of the subway line to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station and the opening of Randen-Tenjingawa Station by the Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., 'Kyoto Subway and Randen One-day Ticket' and 'Kyoto-Ranzan and Biwako-Otsu One-day Ticket' became available for purchase on March 28, 2008.

Related products

In 2003, the big toymaker Taito Corporation adopted the Keifuku Electric Railroad in Densha-de-go! (電車でGO!), a train operation game (the Arashiyama Main Line and the Kitano Line have been adopted).

The N gauge model train, MOBO Type 101 'Randen,' is sold by the Hasegawa Corporation.