Kitakinki Tango Railway Miyafuku Line (北近畿タンゴ鉄道宮福線)

The Miyafuku Line is a railway operated by Kitakinki Tango Railway (KTR), running from Miyazu Station in Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture, to Fukuchiyama Station in Fukuchiyama City, Kyoto Prefecture.
The line is part of the Kitakinki Big X Network, which takes its name from its X-like shape on the map, the Miyafuku Line constituting the upper right oblique line of the 'X.'

The railway's starting point is Miyazu Station but the timetable shows trains from Fukuchiyama Station to Miyazu Station as odd-numbered 'outbound' ones.

The line covers the distance from Fukuchiyama Station to Miyazu Station in a short time, thereby providing tourists from Kyoto or Osaka with easy access to the sights in Tango Peninsula like Amanohashidate, which is one of three most scenic spots in Japan. From Fukuchiyama Station to Oe Station, the line runs along the Yura-gawa River, and from Oe Station to Miyazu Station, it crosses the mountains through a series of tunnels, including the 3,215-meter Fuko Tunnel.

Though the entire Miyafuku Line is electrified, local trains (including rapid ones) operate with diesel engines, except for three outbound trains and two inbound ones, because KTR owns no electric.

Railway data

Railway length (operating distance): 30.4 km
Track gauge: 1067 mm
Number of stations: fourteen (including the starting station and the final station)
Double-tracked section: nonexistent (the entire line is single-tracked)
Electrified section: the entire line (DC1500V)
Block (railway) system: special automatic block system (track circuit detection system)
Maximum permitted speed: 130 km/h

Services

The limited express services from the direction of Kyoto Station or Shin-Osaka Station directly connect with the KTR Miyazu Line, via the KTR Miyafuku Line. The trains and rolling stock used are as follows.

West Japan Railway Company (JR West)
Limited Express 'Hashidate': Kyoto Station - Amanohashidate Station; JNR/JR Limited Express Series 183
Limited Express 'Monju': Shin-Osaka Station - Amanohashidate Station; JNR/JR Limited Express Series 183
Kitakinki Tango Railway
Limited Express 'Tango Explorer': Shin-Osaka Station - Toyooka Station (Hyogo Prefecture); KTR Limited Express Diesel Cars Series KTR001 (belonging to Nishi-Maizuru Railway Yard)
Limited Express 'Tango Discovery': Kyoto Station - Fukuchiyama Station - Toyooka Station (between Kumihama Station and Toyooka Station, some are rapid trains); KTR Limited Express Diesel Cars Series KTR8000 (from March 15, 2008, via the Miyafuku Line)

Local train services (almost one per hour) basically only run on the Miyafuku Line and use KTR Diesel Cars Series MF100 & 200 (belonging to Fukuchiyama Railway Branch Yard) but some trains, using KTR Diesel Cars Series KTR700 & 800 (belonging to Nishi-Maizuru Railway Yard), directly connect with the KTR Miyazu Line.

For rapid and local train services, JR West rolling stock occasionally shares the track of the KTR Miyafuku Line. At Fukuchiyama Station, they arrive at and depart from the JR platform. Two rapid outbound trains and one rapid inbound train from Fukuchiyama Station to Amanohashidate Station and Miyazu Station, the Limited Expresses 'Hashidate' and 'Monju,' are used to return to the yard and therefore use the JNR/JR Limited Express Series 183.

Rolling stock used

For limited expresses, please refer to the section 'Types of operations.'

Rolling stock owned by KTR
KTR Diesel Cars Series MF 100 & 200
KTR Diesel Cars Type KTR 700 & 800
Rolling stock owned by JR West (belonging to Fukuchiyama Railway Yard)
JNR/JR Suburban Trains Series 113, JNR/JR Suburban Train Series 115 (223M and 224M)
The rolling stock used varies day by day between Series 113 and Series 115. Driver-only operation is possible but the 223M and 224M also carry a conductor.

JNR/JR Limited Express Series 183 (801M, 805M, 832M)
These engines are used for returning to the yard while carrying passengers on a limited express. Only some cars are available for passenger use (Car No.7 on 801M and Car No.2 on 805M and 832M. However, Cars No. 2 and 3 are occasionally available on 805M) and they have no Green Car.

History

Plans for a railway connecting Fukuchiyama with Miyazu had been around for a long time and in 1887, Kansai Railway Company surveyed a route going through Yura, but the project wasn't realized. In 1892, there was a campaign in Miyazu for construction of a railway, but this didn't bear fruit either. Eventually, in 1923, Hokutan Railway opened a line between Fukuchiyama and Komori. However, the company ran out of funds to continue the line north of Komori Station, so Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation (JRCC) took over the project for the laying of the Miyamori Line. Because of financial difficulties, Hokutan Railway suspended operations in 1971, and then ended them in 1974, so construction of the section of the Miyafuku Line between Fukuchiyama Station and Komori Station (today's Oe Station) was also taken over and continued by JRCC but in 1980, construction was suspended again because of the enforcement of the Special Measures Law for the Promotion of Management Reconstruction at Japan National Railways. After that, in 1982, a private-public joint venture, Miyafuku Railway (the present KTR), was established and in 1983 construction was restarted, with the long-wished-for Miyafuku Line finally opening in July, 1988. This line directly connected Kyoto and Osaka Stations with Miyazu and Amanohashidate Stations, thereby greatly improving rail access to Kitakinki region; in the past, for example, trains had to switchback both at Ayabe Station and Nishi-Maizuru Station when going from Kyoto Station to Amanohashidate Station, so the Kitakinki region had seemed far away both timewise and psychologically.

July 16, 1988: Inauguration of service between Fukuchiyama Station and Miyazu Station.

April 16, 1993: Application for permission to change general plan and railway facilities in relation to electrification and increase in speed of section between Miyazu Station and Fukuchiyama Station.

May 13: Permission granted to change general plan in relation to electrification and increase in speed of section between Miyazu and Fukuchiyama Stations.

May 14: Permission granted to change facilities in relation to electrification and increase in speed of section between Miyazu and Fukuchiyama Stations.

June 10: Authorization of practical plan directions and railway development fund for the section between Miyazu and Fukuchiyama Stations.

July 2: Groundbreaking ceremony held.

March 16, 1996: Electrification of section between Miyazu and Fukuchiyama Stations.