Sagano Line (嵯峨野線)
The Sagano Line (Sagano-sen) is the nickname for the portion of the San-in main line (JR West Japan Railway) between Kyoto Station and Sonobe Station. This nickname has been in use since March 13, 1988. It is also referred to in some tourist information as the Sagano San-in Line or the San-in Sagano Line, names derived from its original name, the San-in Line. This is said to be because both Shimane Prefecture and Tottori Prefecture in the Sanin region demanded that the name "San-in" be included in the tourist information.
The line color is purple (), chosen with 'the image of the elegance of the old capital' in mind.
As a rule, there is one rapid train and approximately three local trains per hour (two of which run between Kyoto Station and Kameoka Station), with some direct trains going as far as Goma Station or Fukuchiyama Station. In addition, it is the only line in the Urban Network (JR West) with no direct regular local trains from other lines.
As it is frequently used to access popular sightseeing spots in the direction of Sagano-Arashiyama, additional trains are run between Kyoto and Saga-Arashiyama stations during the red maple season. Additionally, regular trains are run more frequently.
During the Japanese National Railways age, the San-in main line was used almost exclusively by long-distance limited express trains or long-distance local trains, and the demand created by those commuting to school or work from the outskirts of Kyoto was hardly considered. Then, in 1987, the Japan National Railway was broken up by privatization and JR West was created. In 1989, this section of the railway was switched to a new line passing through the double-track line (and the accompanying tunnel) between Saga (present Saga Arashiyama) and Umahori Station. In 1990, the trains between Kyoto and Sonobe were converted to electric trains. It can be said that branch-off railway tracks were expanded with the route modernization and completion in stages, including the elevation of the portion between Nijo Station and Sonobe Station (Kyoto Prefecture) in 1996, and it has undergone a drastic transformation from its appearance in the Japanese National Railways age. Within Kyoto City, Uzumasa Station was built in 1989, followed by Emmachi Station in 2000, and demand is being created.
However, the train schedule is very unbalanced; because a lot of single-track regions still remain, while there are 3 to 4 trains per hour, excluding the limited express trains, there are time slots during which people have to wait more than thirty minutes for trains, not only during the day but also during the evening rush hours. Therefore, it is undeniable that the operating pattern is far from fulfilling metropolitan area urban traffic functions in a satisfactory manner. Moreover, with the decrease in trains north of Sonobe Station, the gap between regular trains and limited express trains is growing every year, too.
All sections of the Sagano Line are scheduled to be converted to double-track lines by the spring of 2010. The construction is currently underway, but it was originally planned to be completed by the spring of 2009, and is now a year behind schedule. As an additional task accompanying this work, the elevation of the track between Sonobe and Uzumasa was completed in late March 2008. Saga Arashiyama Station and Kameoka Station are both currently being reconstructed on bridges, and pedestrian passages are being installed. The reconstructed bridge-top stations are set to be completed on schedule in spring 2008. In addition, the introduction of an automatic train stopping system is planned.
Moreover, the Council for Kinki Regional Transport is examining a proposal for a bilateral direct train service with the Osaka Station direction of the JR Kyoto Line, which utilizes the shunt track between Tambaguchi Station and Umekoji Station for additional trains.
With the increase in trains, noise problems have begun to surface, especially in the elevated region between Kyoto and the vicinity of Nijo; however, there have been no sweeping countermeasures as yet.
The J Thru ICOCA card, the Suica card of East Japan Railway (JR East Japan Railway), the TOICA card of Central Japan Railway Company (JR Tokai) and the PiTaPa (Postpay IC for Touch and Pay) card of Surutto KANSAI Pass can be used at all stations on the Sagano Line.
Shuttle buses run by the Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Corporation (formerly Kyoto Kotsu (Kameoka)) which utilize National Highway 9 to connect Kyoto City (Kyoto Station and Hankyu Kyoto Line Katsura Station) and Kameoka and parts west exist as competition for this railway.
JR stations usually have the first platform next to the main station building as Platform 1. However, each station along the Sagano Line (except for Kyoto Station) has its first Kyoto-bound platform as Platform 1, regardless of the position of the main station building. At some stations, however, a train may pass through the station without stopping, so sometimes trains that run on the tracks that pass by Platform 1 are traveling away from Kyoto.