Kintetsu Kyoto Line (近鉄京都線)

The Kintetsu Kyoto Line (Kintetsu Kyoto-sen) is a railway line of Kintetsu Corporation (Kintetsu) and it connects Kyoto Station located in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture and Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara City, Nara Prefecture.

It plays a vital role in urban transportation between the two cities of Kyoto and Nara, and as a means of transportation for residential areas and Kansai Science City along the line. In 1991 the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) got into the competition, beginning its operation between Kyoto Station and Nara Station on the JR Nara Line, which runs in parallel; however, the Kintetsu Kyoto Line is still dominant in terms of the number of trains operating. The company also undertakes operation from the center of Kyoto City to the Nara area through the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line, as well as direct operation from Kyoto Station to Tenri Station and toward Kashiwarajingu-mae Station, thus allowing passengers to travel to their destinations without transferring. The section between Shin-Tanabe Station and Shin-Hosono Station runs parallel with the Katamachi Line of JR West.

The cards interoperable with KANSAI THRU PASS, as well as J-Thru, PiTaPa and ICOCA, can be used.

Railway data

Railway distance (operating kilometers): 34.6 km
Track gauge: 1435mm
Number of stations: 26 (including the starting and final stations)
Double-tracked section: entire line
Electrified section: entire line electrified (DC1500V)
Block (railway) system: automatic block system
Maximum speed: 105 km/h

The entire line is controlled by the Osaka Transportation Control Division (formerly the Kamihonmachi Operation Office).

Type of operation

The Kintetsu Limited Express train operates between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station or Kashiwarajingu-mae Station, as well as between Kyoto Station and Kashikojima Station. Some of the trains for Kashikojima Station are coupled at Yamato-Yagi Station with the train for Kashikojima Station proceeding from Kintetsu Nanba Station. For details, please see the section for the details of the Kintetsu Limited Express Train.

Additionally, the express, semi-express and local trains are operated. Some of the express and local trains share the track with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line from Takeda Station, carrying out the mutual direct operation to Kokusaikaikan Station.
The details by train type are as follows:
In the past, rapid express trains were also operated (stopped at Kyoto Station, Takeda Station, Tanbabashi Station, Saidaiji Station, Shin-Omiya Station (from the year 2000) and Nara Station).

Express train

Principal higher-category trains on the Kyoto Line by type
Basically, this type of train is directly connected to the Nara Line or Kashiwara Line and is operated all day in the sections between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu Nara Station, Tenri Station or Kashiwarajingu-mae Station (a few trains of this type go to Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Kintetsu-Miyazu Station or Shin-Tanabe Station). The trains for Kintetsu-Miyazu make a stop at Kodo Station and Miyamaki Station in addition to the stations where other Express trains make a stop. During the daytime (and the weekday mornings), the through-express is operated between Kokusaikaikan Station on the Subway Karasuma Line and Kintetsu-Nara Station. During the daytime, six trains operate every hour on the following routes: one train between Kyoto and Kintetsu-Nara, two trains between Kokusaikaikan and Kintetsu-Nara, one train between Kyoto and Tenri, and two trains between Kyoto and Kashiwarajingu-mae. The trains are six cars long (some are four cars long), and the direct trains proceeding from the Subway Karasuma Line operate with six cars. During the daytime, the operation interval differs between the limited express and express trains, and the express trains wait for the limited express to pass at one of the following stations: Okubo (Kyoto Prefecture), Shin-Tanabe, Shin-Hosono and Takanohara. The trains proceeding from the Subway Karasuma Line connect at Takeda Station with the local trains from Kintetsu Kyoto Station.

The Kintetsu Kyoto Line is a trunk line that crosses the Kintetsu Nara Line, Katamachi Line, Keihan Main Line and JR Kyoto Line, which are radial lines directed outward from their base point, Osaka Station; in recent years, the express trains have been crowded even in the daytime. This is because land development for housing along the line has become active due to the development of Kansai Science City (Keihanna Science City). Similar conditions exist along the Yokohama Line, Nanbu Line and Musashino Line running in the Tokyo metropolitan area. During the daytime, at Shin-Tanabe Station and to the south, the express trains in service are more numerous than the local trains. This phenomenon is similar to the one between Kakogawa Station and Himeji Station on the JR Kobe Line.

Semi-express trains

The semi-express trains are operated between Kyoto Station and Shin-Tanabe Station, although the number of trains operated is small because this type is operated only at a 30-minute interval during the rush hours. In the section between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station, the trains stop at the same stations as the express trains do, and from Tanbabashi station to the south the trains stop at every station.

Until 1994, the trains were operated between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station (they didn't stop at Mukaijima Station
but stopped at every station between Ogura Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station).

Semi-express trains instead serve as a support to reinforce the transportation capacity of the Kyoto Line, because many of them pass nonstop at only three stations and don't even get ahead of the local trains; however a few semi-express trains go ahead of local trains at Kamitobaguchi Station (three outbouond trains on weekdays, and one outbound train on Saturdays and holidays).

Local trains

Local trains are operated all day in the section between Kyoto Station and Yamato-Saidaiji Station (a few trains go to Kintetsu-Nara Station), and through local trains are operated in the section between Kokusaikaikan Station on the Subway Karasuma Line and Shin-Tanabe Station (only one inbound train starts from Kintetsu-Miyazu Station). During the daytime, four trains each hour are operated in the former section while two trains run in the latter; in all, there are six trains per hour in operation. The trains bound for Yamato-Saidaiji Station sometimes change the destination from Yamato-Saidaiji to Tenri Station or Kashiwarajingu-mae Station, depending on the hours. They are basically designated as trains bound for Yamato-Saidaiji Station because occasionally, when the train schedule suffers a problem, they can suspend operation or can be replaced with a different unit for the section from Yamato-Saidaiji Station southward, and some of them are changed from local to express at Yamato-Saidaiji Station and forward.

The trains are six cars long in the case of through-trains that go directly to the Subway Line and the trains operated in a part of the section between Kyoto Station and Shin-Tanabe Station during the rush hours, while the other trains are four cars long. The local trains that proceed in the section at Shin-Tanabe Station and to the south should be four cars long, owing to the fact that the effective length of the platform at Komada Station (as well as at Yamadagawa Station) permits only four cars. However, a few trains are operated with six cars between Kyoto Station and Shin-Tanabe Station and coupled/decoupled at Shin-Tanabe to run with four cars from Shin-Tanabe southward.

Although four local trains each hour are operated between Kyoto Station and Yamato-Saidaiji Station, they don't run at the 15-minute interval because their schedules need to be adjusted in relation with the trains operating on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Line. The intervals of the trains increases to 20 minutes even in the rush hour between Kyoto Station and Takeda Station, and during the daytime the interval increases to 22 minutes between Shin-Tanabe and Shin-Hosono Station (JR's Osaka Higashi Line faces a similar situation).

During the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in 1997, the through local trains running on the Karasuma Line reached to Takanohara Station using the shared track. However, the trains did not stop at Kodo Station, Komada Station and Yamadagawa Station, which didn't have enough space for six-car trains to stop.

Number of trains

The numbers of trains operated per hour during the daytime by section are as follows:

Between Kyoto and Takeda: limited express trains 4, express trains 4, local trains 4. Between Takeda and Shin-Tanabe: limited express trains 4, express trains 6, local trains 6. Between Shin-Tanabe and Yamato-Saidaiji: limited express trains 4, express trains 6, local trains 4. Breakdown of limited express trains: between Kyoto and Nara 2, Kyoto and Kashiwarajingu-mae 1, Kyoto and Kashikojima 1.

Crew

To draw the train from the depot, the driver operates it standing.

Rolling stock

Please refer to the section of Kintetsu Nara Line. The trains of the Kintetsu Series 3000 are also used. Trains of Kyoto Municipal Subway Series 10 are also operated on the shared track. (the series is mainly used for local trains that double back at Shin-Tanabe Station and northward. During the daytime, it is also operated directly to Kintetsu-Nara Station).

Those trains, which arrive at and depart from Kintetsu-Kyoto Station and are made up of six same-series cars (including the Kintetsu series 3200 and 3220, which are compatible with subway lines) are used for all types except for the local trains starting at Kintetsu-Miyazu Station and to the south (because at Komada Station and Yamadagawa Station the platform has a length sufficient for only four cars to stop).

As for the L/C cars, they are used with long seats in the case of the Kyoto Line, Kashiwara Line and Tenri Line (and for the related operations) (on the Nara Line, the trains are operated with cross seats on weekdays from 10:00 to 16:00 and all day on Saturdays and holidays except for some occasions or operations made based on the judgment of the crew). This is because Platform 3 at Kyoto Station is one-sided, and since the flows of incoming and outgoing passengers can't be separated there is no time to turn the seats around (from the answer provided by the Kintetsu Corporation). Nonetheless, L/C cars are used on the Kyoto Line, Kashiwara Line and Tenri Line, because these cars are in shared operation with the Nara Line.

History

Nara Electric Railway (known as Naraden), which was a joint venture of Keihan Electric Railway and Osaka Electric Tramway (known as Daiki, the predecessor of Kintetsu Corporation), opened the railway for the purpose of connecting the two ancient capitals, which had no private railway transportation. The section between Kyoto Station and Momoyama Goryo-mae Station was constructed with the use of an old railway site of the Japanese Government Railways' Nara Line, and since the entire line entered full operation it was operated directly to the Daiki's Kintetsu Nara Line and the Unebi Line (current Kintetsu Kashiwara Line). From the post-war period to 1968, the line employed direct operation with the Keihan Main Line.

The line became one of the Kintetsu Railway lines on October 1, 1963. For details of the line's construction and integration with Kintetsu Corporation, please see the section of Nara Electric Railway.

Selection of the route to the north of the Uji-gawa River

Yodo-gawa (Railway) Bridge is the longest simple truss bridge in Japan, having a length of 164.6 meters.
Registered tangible cultural property

Prior to the construction, the selection of the route to the north of the Yodo-gawa River was a very difficult task.

At the time of construction, because the project site (including the area along the Keihan Main Line) was a training ground for the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and the Army censured the construction of a bridge over the Uji-gawa River, objecting that the bridge would be an obstacle for the Army's training in bridge construction, it was decided to construct a non-pillar truss bridge. Kyoto City also opposed the construction of a railway in the vicinity of Momoyama Goryo-mae Station, objecting to the railroad crossing that might be produced on the approach to the Momoyama Goryo Tomb; therefore, the company made a plan to construct a subway line, but that also failed because of the protest of the sake brewers association of Fushimi Ward, which was worried about the depletion of underground water, and finally as the last expedient, the railway was constructed with an elevated structure. Due to such complicated circumstances, Yodogawa-bashi (Railway) Bridge spanning the Uji-gawa River between Momoyama Goryo-mae Station and Mukaijima was constructed as the longest simple truss structured bridge in Japan, with a length of 164.6 meters.

Even today, the training grounds of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) remain in the vicinity of the Uji-gawa River. However, due to the extension of residential area in Fushimi Ward the training is mainly undertaken in the JGSDF Camp Okubo in front of Okubo Station (Kyoto Prefecture) or in the vicinity of Kowata Station (Keihan) on the Keihan Uji Line, but nowadays the training is not carried out around Yodo-gawa (Railway) Bridge.

The frustration of Nara Electric Railway's underground terminal project at Kyoto Station

To start operating the Nara Electric Railway, an underground station was projected for construction just below the Karasuma-guchi (Karasuma Exit) (the north-side center entrance/exit) of the then Japan National Railway (JNR) Kyoto Station; however, in addition to the strained construction cost, due to the provision that the construction would not meet the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Showa (Showa-no-Sokui no Rei or Onie no Matsuri) to be held in November 1928 in the Kyoto Imperial Palace, it was decided to construct a provisional station building on the Hachijo-guchi side (Hachijo Exit) (south entrance/exit).

The station building, which was meant to be provisional, had been maintained with its original structure because the underground station project itself was frustrated due to the Showa Depression among other things; and when the Tokaido Shinkansen was constructed the exclusive tracks and platforms for Shinkansen were built right above it, and the station of the Nara Electric Railway was also equipped with three elevated tracks (however, the permission to extend the building to Kita-guchi (north entrance/exit) was withheld until right after the company's merger with Kintetsu Corporation).

Chronology

November 3, 1928: Nara Electric Railway started operations between Momoyama Goryo-mae Station and Saidaiji Station (currently Yamato-Saidaiji Station).

November 15, 1928: Operations started between Kyoto Station and Momoyama Goryo-mae Station.

July 10, 1929, Kizugawa Station was constructed beside the Kizu-gawa River (Kyoto Prefecture).

April 1, 1940: The name Jonangu-mae Station was changed to Takeda Station.

April 5, 1940: Kamitobaguchi Station was opened.

December 21, 1945: The trains of Nara Electric Railway started sharing the track to Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station, and from this station the through-operation to Sanjo Station (Kyoto Prefecture) of Keihan Electric Railway began. The operation between Fushimi, Horiuchi and Momoyama Goryo-mae was discontinued.

April 1, 1947: Keihan Electric Railway started the direct operation to Kyoto Station, using the shared track with Nara Electric Railway from Tanbabashi Station.

July 5, 1954: Kodo Station was inaugurated.

September 1963: Kyoto Station was elevated.

October 1, 1963: Kintetsu Corporation swallowed Nara Electric Railway, and the line became the (Kintetsu) Kyoto Line.

March 29, 1967: Former Horiuchi Station was restored and Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station was placed on the actual site. Operations were restarted between Fushimi Station, Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station and Momoyama Goryo-mae Station. However, two stations--Tanbabashi and Kintetsu-Tanbabashi--were used in parallel for one year (in the case of limited express, express and semi-express trains, they would stop at Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station and local trains and Keihan direct trains stopped at Tanbabashi Station, although at the time the official name of both stations was Tanba Station).

October 10, 1968: The automatic train stop system (ATS) was introduced.

December 20, 1968: The operation between Fushimi, Tanbabashi and Momoyama Goryo-mae was discontinued. At the same time, the mutual direct operation with Hankyu Electric Railway at Tanbabashi Station and the parallel usage of Tanbabashi Station and Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station were also discontinued. The name of Tanbabashi Station, as used by Kintetsu Railway, was changed to Kinki Nihon Tanbabashi Station. From this date, the large-size rolling stock used on the Nara Line began to be introduced on the Kyoto Line.

September 13, 1969: The railway between Kyoto Station and Toji Station was elevated.

September 21, 1969: The voltage of the overhead wires was raised from 600V to 1500V.

March 1, 1970: The name of Kinki Nihon Tanbabashi Station was changed to Kintetsu-Tanbabashi Station.

November 22, 1972: Takanohara Station was inaugurated.

July 20, 1974: The use of Kizugawa Station ceased.

March 30, 1979: Mukaijima Station was inaugurated.

July 1979: Limited express trains began operating with six cars.

December 14, 1987: The elevation of the railway around Okubo Station was completed.

August 28, 1988: Mutual direct operation with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line started.

March 18. 1993: Miyazu Depot was completed.

September 21, 1993: Kintetsu-Miyazu Station was inaugurated.

September 21, 1994: Kizugawadai Station was inaugurated.

March 17, 1998: Rapid express trains began their operation between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station during the daytime on Saturdays and holidays.

November 27, 1999: The railway between Toji Station and Takeda Station was elevated.

March 15, 2000: A new through-express train service started between Kokusaikaikan Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station, extending the shared section with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line to Kintetsu-Nara Station. The number of rapid express trains was increased in order to start their daytime operations.

March 6, 2003: The rapid express train operated between Kyoto Station and Kintetsu-Nara Station was integrated into the express train.

August 6, 2005: The railway around Miyamaki Station was elevated.

Stations that once existed

Hachijo Station (between Kyoto Station and Toji Station, from November 15, 1928 to 1945) -- a station located so that the trains, which started from Kyoto Station toward the direction parallel with the Tokaido Main Line, could change to the southerly direction. Usage ceased, as it was no longer considered necessary.

Kizugawa Station (Kyoto Prefecture) (between Tonosho Station and Shin-Tanabe Station, the service was suspended from July 10, 1929 to October 1, 1946, and from July 1, 1948 to August 23, 1965, and it ceased to be used on July 20, 1974) -- an extra station opened only during the summer months for passengers going for a bathe.