Tozai Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway (京都市営地下鉄東西線)

The Tozai Line is a railway line of Kyoto Municipal Subway, which connects Rokujizo Station in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture and Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City.

Railway data

District boundary and railway distance (operation kilometers): Between Rokujizo and Uzumasa-tenjingawa, 17.5 km

Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau (railway business operator):

Between Rokujizo and Misasagi, 8.7 km

Between Sanjo-keihan and Uzumasa-tenjingawa, 5.4 km

Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau (railway business operator) and Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd. (railway business operator):

Between Misasagi and Sanjo-keihan, 3.4 km

Track gauge: 1435 mm

Number of stations: 17 (including the original and terminal stations)

Double-tracked section: The entire line

Electrified section: The entire line (DC1500V, overhead line system)

Block (railway) system: Cab signal (automatic train control device, automatic train operation device)

Maximum speed: 75 km/h

Summary

The Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway started its operations as the second municipal subway line. Used by an average of 120,000 people per day, it's a railway track that acts as a commuter-traffic route connecting the section between the center of Kyoto City and the Yamashina and Fushimi wards, which are located in the southeastern area of Kyoto City; it also serves as a transportation route between Kyoto City and Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.

The section between Daigo Station (Kyoto Prefecture) and Nijo Station was first opened to traffic in 1997, the section between Daigo Station and Rokujizo Station was added in 2004, and the section between Nijo Station and Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station was opened to traffic on January 16, 2008. It is scheduled that the section will be further extended up to near Rakusai in Nishikyo Ward. When Rakusai New Town was constructed on the city's outskirts, many people moved in because they'd heard that the subway line would be extended up to this area in the future, and thus most were very hopeful regarding the extension of the line; however, the plan is nowhere in sight because of the strained state of Kyoto City's public finances (for details, see "The plan for westward extension").

The line between Rokujizo Station and Yamashina Station runs in a north-south direction through the underground of the Kyoto Outer Loop Expressway in eastern Fushimi Ward and Yamashina Ward. It curves around the mountain from Yamashina Station to Keage Station and runs in an east-west direction through the underground of Sanjo-dori Street, Oike-dori Street and Oshikoji-dori Street in the city center from Keage Station to Nijo Station. There are also sharp curves in the section between Karasuma Oike and Nijojo-mae and the section between Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae and Sanjo-keihan. Although the name of the line is derived from the fact that it runs in an east-west (tozai) direction in the center of Kyoto City, the distance of the section that runs in an east-west direction is only about half the entire line.

Platform doors are installed on all station platforms of the Tozai Line. Because two different types of trains--four-car and six-car trains--are used in the section between Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station and Misasagi Station, only the platform doors for four-car trains can be operated on the station platforms in this section, and they are in fact operated in this way. The Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway is the second subway line on which platform doors were adopted, after the Nanboku Line of Tokyo Metro. Moreover, each station has its representative color, called a "station color," and station parts such as the platform door, station name signs, station name panel, external wall of the station attendant's office and elevator doors are colored in the corresponding station color. These station colors are selected gradationally as shown in "List of stations."

Each station employs a platform system and has an elevator and an escalator; moreover, it's made progressively barrier-free by, for example, eliminating difference in level on the bathroom floor and including a space for wheelchairs. Except for Daigo Station and Karasuma Oike Station, all other stations have only one ticket gate. Most stations uniformly adopt hydraulic elevators with room for 11 people, and some of them have Braille signs and a spoken guidance system (the elevator makers vary from station to station).

The escalators may be up only or up-and-down, depending on the station, but all of them are automatic escalators with sensors.

Melody signaling departure and announcement regarding train arrival

The Tozai Line is the only line of Kyoto Municipal Subway that has melodies to signal departure, and all of the four melodies sound quaint, reflecting Kyoto's extensive history.

In recognition of their achievement in producing these melodies, Sakurai Music Factory Limited Partnership and Teichiku Entertainment, Inc., were eventually placed in charge of producing melodies for the East Japan Railway Company (JR East).
The titles of the melodies are shown below:

Koto-no-asamoya (common for all stations, for Rokujizo)

Daigo-ji no Uguisu (common for all stations, for Uzumasa-tenjingawa)

Harubiraki (heard only at Misasagi Station, for Uzumasa-tenjingawa and for Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae)

Shisendo Shishi-odoshi (heard only at Misasagi Station, for Hamaotsu)

For details of the melodies signaling departure, refer to ' Hyper Subway Schedule' on the official website of the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. The actual melodies can be heard on these Web pages (but the volume is very low).

At Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station or stations in the section between Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station and Misasagi Station, the number of cars is always announced because six-car trains (Tozai Line trains) and four-car trains (trains coming from the Keihan Keishin Line) are busily operated. When a train coming from the Keihan Line arrives at one of these stations, the platform doors are operated only for four cars from the front of the train, out of doors for six cars.

Types of operations

Trains coming from the Keihan Keishin Line of Keihan Electric Railway are operated from Misasagi Station up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station. Out of 76 round-trip trains coming from the Keihan Keishin Line each weekday, 28 are directly operated to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station at intervals of approximately 30 minutes, while the other trains are operated up to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station--an intervening station--except early in the morning and late at night. Trains using cars of the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau are operated only in the section between Rokujizo Station and Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station on the Tozai Line; they aren't operated onto the Keihan Keishin Line. Because the Keishin Line has some streetcar lines in Otsu City, trains that depart from Hamaotsu and arrive at Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station or Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station tend to be late for one or two minutes on the Tozai Line. This delay can affect trains that depart from Rokujizo Station and arrive at Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station, which run following the delayed train.

Trains used to be operated every ten minutes (six trains per hour) during the day at the beginning of the inauguration throughout the line, except for trains coming from the Keishin Line which runs at a 15-minute interval; however, since March 2000 trains have been operated every 7.5 minutes (eight trains per hour) in order to synchronize the time schedule with trains operated on the Karasuma Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway, which are connected to trains operated on the Tozai Line at Karasuma Oike Station, resulting in a ratio of 2:1 per quarter hour for trains operated on the Tozai Line relative to those operated directly to the Keishin Line. After the line was extended up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa on January 16, 2008, ten trains were operated per hour during daytime hours in the section between Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae and Uzumasa-tenjingawa, including the direct trains from the Keishin Line, which accounted for more trains than those operated on the Karasuma Line.

The required time during the period when trains of the Keihan Keishin Line ran on the ground from Misasagi Station and to the west was, up to 1997, as shown below:

Keishin-Sanjo - Misasagi: Sub-express trains, ten minutes; local trains, 12 minutes

The current required time of the Tozai Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway, is as shown below:

Sanjo-keihan - Misasagi: Six or seven minutes

Utilization of the Tozai Line

The Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway is an important mode of transportation for residents in the Yamashina-Daigo region. This region has a lot of housing estates and new residential areas that form bedroom suburbs of Kyoto and Osaka; however, traffic in this region is chronically heavy due to poor surrounding road conditions. Before the subway was opened to traffic, except for the Keihan Keishin Line, route buses that seldom ran according to schedule were the only means of transportation; however, the inauguration of the subway has drastically improved the traffic convenience.

Incidentally, with the inauguration of the subway the control of all city buses in the region was transferred to Keihan Bus Co., Ltd., in 1997 as a part of the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau's rationalization policy. Keihan Bus Co., Ltd., which had previously operated bus routes in the Yamashina-Daigo region, changed routes drastically in accordance with the transfer of the control and the inauguration of the subway. Keihan Bus Co., Ltd., currently provides bus services on routes where the Tozai Line also provides services, such as a route between Sanjo-keihan Station/Kawaramachi Station (Kyoto Prefecture) and Yamashina Station, a route between Sanjo-keihan/Shijo-Kawaramachi and Nagitsuji Station/Ono Station/Rokujizo Station, and a route between Yamashina Station and Rokujizo Station. Keihan Bus Co., Ltd., has been a big competitor for the Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway, not only because the fare of the three above-mentioned routes of Keihan Bus is less expensive than that of the Tozai Line, but also because Keihan Bus provides bus services to Shijo-Kawaramachi, the downtown area of Kyoto City.

Additionally, there are many people who transfer from a route bus to a train for Shiga Prefecture (JR Tokaido Main Line (Biwako Line)/Kosei Line and Keihan Keishin Line) at Yamashina Station or who transfer from a train to a route bus at Nijo Station in order to go from Nantan, Kyoto City (JR Sanin Main Line (Sagano Line)) to the center of Kyoto City; other people will transfer from a route bus to a train connecting to the Keihan Uji Line or the JR Nara Line in order to go to the direction of Uji and Nara at Rokujizo Station.

Although there are several tourist spots along the Tozai Line, such as Heian Jingu Shrine, Nanzen-ji Temple and Nijo-jo Castle, so far the Tozai Line hasn't become popular with tourists. On March 28, 2008, once the section extended up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station was open to traffic, Randan-Tenjingawa Station was opened as a transferring station on the Arashiyama Main Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., which formed a connection route to the direction of Arashiyama after Nijo Station connecting to the JR Sagano Line; therefore, it is expected to increase the number of passengers.

Construction process

After the war, Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau considered a line (even an overhead line) that would run longitudinally along the Oike-dori Street from Rokujizo to Keage through Daigo and Yamashina, as a blueprint for the construction of a new railway line of Kyoto Municipal Streetcar; however, the project was overwhelmed and derailed by the wave of motorization. Later, the project was restudied as a plan for a new subway line.

The project for the Tozai Line started in or around 1965 as a means of public transportation that would connect the eastern region of Kyoto City (Yamashina Ward and eastern Fushimi Ward)--where the construction of surrounding roads along the Tozai Line couldn't keep up with the rapid population growth in those areas, resulting in serious traffic jams--with the large cities, and was officially carried at a city council meeting held in 1969. In about 1975, it was decided that the construction of the line in the section between Daigo and Nijo would begin.

However, the section between Misasagi and Sanjo-keihan, out of the entire section of the project, became controversial because the Keihan Keishin Line had been operated on the ground in this section. The idea of the parallel establishment of the Tozai Line and the Keihan Keishin Line was regarded as inappropriate, partly because it would result in excessive competition between these two lines and partly because the establishment of a subway line in a public subway system in this section for the Keihan Line would be the same as improving the Keihan Line, a private railway line, in a public system.

The discussions concluded that Kyoto City and Keihan Electric Railway would first establish a joint public-private venture in order to obtain qualification as a Type Ⅲ Railway Business Operator, and then Kyoto City would obtain qualification as a Type II Railway Business Operator in order to operate trains on the relevant section. The joint public-private venture is Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd. Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., was founded in 1988 and Masahiko IMAGAWA, who was then Kyoto's mayor, assumed the presidency. Consequently, Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., would establish the subway line in the system of the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation, and accordingly the aboveground section of the Keihan Keishin Line would be discontinued.

The inauguration was originally scheduled for 1994 to commemorate the twelve-hundredth anniversary of the ancient capital of Heian-Kyo. However, a reasonable cost and time period for conducting research on the land prior to constructing a subway line, as required by the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, must be scheduled when a subway is constructed in an open-cut method, since buried cultural properties exist under the ground in many areas of urban Kyoto. If the shield method is used, this issue doesn't arise; however, Kyoto City gave the reduction of direct expense for construction the first priority and decided to employ an open-cut method for a substantial portion of the construction site (particularly that of Oshikoji-dori Street, which was included in the district of Nijo-jo Castle which was a national historic site). Accordingly, the decision required a certain amount of cost and time for the research of buried cultural properties. Additionally, it would be a difficult task to burrow under the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system). Through these processes, the section between Daigo and Nijo was opened to traffic in 1997. The Keihan Keishin Line started its operation in the section between Misasagi and Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae.

The reason the Keihan Keishin Line was extended to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae instead of Sanjo-keihan, the station up to which the line was originally extended, when the subway line began operation up to Nijo Station, was because a sharp curve exists right on the western side of Sanjo-keihan Station, and because the Kamo-gawa River runs right above that point; therefore, under such unfavorable conditions it would be impossible to ensure the space needed to set up a return track line near Sanjo-keihan Station.

On the other hand, the reason it wasn't extended up to Nijo Station was because the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau would need to pay an extra fee for use of railway cars (the fee is required because only Keihan trains use the Tozai Line instead of providing mutual usage between the two organizations, so the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau must pay the fee to Keihan Electric Railway one-sidedly, depending on the total travel distance), the enhancement of the electric power system on the ground would be needed, and the carrying capacity would be too much (there was little need to increase the number of trains for the section between Nijo and Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae). This caused a problem in connecting to the Karasuma Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway at Karasuma Oike Station, the next station to the west of Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station, and some passengers complained about being stuck by nothing more than a station.

In 1999, the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry requested permission to extend the section for the Keishin Line up to Nijo Station, and as the types of operations indicated, a substation was newly set up in Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station to extend the section for trains of the Keihan Keishin Line, in accordance with the extension of the Tozai Line up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station, which started on January 16, 2008. However, due to many circumstances the number of trains traveling all the way to Uzumasa-tenjingawa Station is still approximately one-third of all trains coming from the Keishin Line (one-half in the daytime).

When the Tozai Line was opened to traffic (when the aboveground section of the Keihan Keishin Line was discontinued) in 1997, the Kujoyama and Hinooka stations were discontinued. Unlike the case where Hinooka Station remained although it was integrated into Misasagi Station, there had been no plan to set up an alternative station of Kujoyama Station since the early planning stages because it was expected to be a killer construction project and no prospect of many users was seen, despite the fact that residents near Kujoyama Station had been requesting the establishment of an alternative subway station. In response to the request, the authorities gave an unrealistic answer, stating, 'We will deal with this issue by increasing the bus services' (the major purpose of the subway construction was to reduce traffic jams, so increasing the bus services represented a paradox), which was a temporizing reply and thus a fictitious story. As of October 2007, bus services have been provided from Kujoyama Bus Stop (located nearly at the same place where Kujoyama Station is located) to the directions of Sanjo-keihan and Yamashina Station; however, only one or two services for Sanjo-keihan are available an hour during the daytime hours, indicating that the number of services is much less compared to the Keihan Keishin Line period in which four train services per hour were available.

Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway; Keishin Line of Keihan Electric Railway

The construction of the Tozai Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway was fleshed out by a report of the Metropolitan Transportation Council in 1971; however, Kyoto City and Keihan Electric Railway needed to take counsel together because the route between Yamashina and Sanjo was competing with the route between Keihan-yamashina and Sanjo of the Keihan Keishin Line. In the counsel, Kyoto City suggested an idea of passing the area to the north of the existing route with a mountain tunnel from Yamashina and connecting the line directly to downtown Kyoto; however, Keihan Electric Railway disagreed with the idea, insisting that the passenger transportation volume wasn't sufficient for the two lines to compete with each other, so eventually both sides agreed to discontinue the section between Keihan-yamashina and Sanjo on the Keishin Line of Keihan Electric Railway and allow Keihan Electric Railway to use the Tozai Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway. Subsequently, due to problems concerning the route of the Tozai Line near Yamashina, it became physically impossible for trains of the Keishin Line coming from the direction of Hamaotsu to connect to the Tozai Line at Yamashina, and thus the related parties decided to adopt the idea of newly establishing the subway Misasagi Station as a connection station of the Keishin Line and the Tozai Line, doing so in the section between Hinooka and Misasagi, which was running along Sanjo-dori Street, and thus to move Misasagi Station of the Keishin Line underground.

The construction of the Tozai Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway, was divided between Kyoto City, which would undertake the section between Daigo and Misasagi (6.3 km) and the section between Sanjo-keihan and Nijo (3.3km), accounting for a total of 9.4 km, and the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation with the establishment of Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., a joint public-private venture of Kyoto City, Keihan Electric Railway and certain other enterprises that would undertake the section between Misasagi and Sanjo-keihan (3.3 km), which would be replaced by the Keihan Keishin Line.

After the subway facilities were completed, Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., bought the subway facilities from the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation using a 25-year installment plan in order to lend them to the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau, which would in turn operate the section between Daigo and Nijo integrally, and accordingly the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau became a Type I Railway Business Operator for the sections between Daigo and Misasagi and between Sanjo-keihan and Nijo, as well as a Type II Railway Business Operator for the section between Misasagi and Sanjo-keihan, while Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., became a Type Ⅲ Railway Business Operator for the section between Misasagi and Sanjo-keihan based on the Railway Business Act, which had taken effect after the abolishment of the old local railway law when Japanese National Railways was split and privatized on April 1, 1987, whereby Keihan Electric Railway was also positioned as a Type II Railway Business Operator; therefore, the idea of continuing passenger services in the section between Misasagi and Sanjo on the Keishin Line, borrowing the subway facilities from Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., in cooperation with Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau to underground and change the route of the relevant section was re-examined; however, the parties involved decided to follow the established policy due to overhead expenses.

Given the fact that Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau has been chronically mired in red ink and Keihan Electric Railway has been in a business depression with regard to the Otsu Line, some people are still advocating an improvement in which Keihan Electric Railway would obtain qualification as a Type II Railway Business Operator and take over the subway facilities in a business-trust agreement in order to operate the Tozai Line integrally with the Keishin Line.

Chronology

October 12, 1997: The section between Daigo and Nijo was opened to traffic. The Keihan Keishin Line started to be extended from Hamaotsu up to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae through Misasagi.

March 15, 2000: The number of trains operated in the section between Daigo and Nijo during daytime hours was increased from six to eight.

November 26, 2004: The section between Rokujizo and Daigo was extended and opened to traffic.

January 7, 2008: The timetable was revised prior to the opening of the line after being extended up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa. However, the trains coming from the Keihan Keishin Line were operated up to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae until the 15th.

January 16, 2008: The section between Nijo and Uzumasa-tenjingawa was extended and opened to traffic. The Keihan Keishin Line was also extended up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa.

The plan for westward extension

Although there is an idea of extending the Tozai Line up to the direction of Rakusai in Nishikyo Ward and Nagaokakyo City, the project was put on ice when the line was extended up to Uzumasa-tenjingawa without making any substantial progress in regard to the future plan.

The factors associated with the above-mentioned situation are as follows:

The cost of constructing a subway is very high.

Kyoto City is in serious fiscal shape.

Not only does the area along the Tozai Line up to Rakusai New Town, including Umezu and Kamikatsura areas, lack a large population, but this area would also compete against the Hankyu Kyoto Main Line.

The population of Rakusai New Town has leveled off or even decreased.

Because Rakusaiguchi Station has already been completed other than Katsura Station of Hankyu Railway and another new JR station (tentatively JR Katsura Station) is scheduled to be established, it will lead to the gradual resolution of traffic inconvenience. Thus there are some opinions saying that the construction of a new track line to Rakusai New Town should be separated from the existing plan and that another independent short-distance line should be established up to Rakusaiguchi Station and JR Katsura Station so that access to central Kyoto and central Osaka can be improved by transferring trains to the Hankyu Kyoto Line or the JR Kyoto Line at these stations.

In the groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of Subway Tenjingawa (then the tentative name) held in 2002, Mr. Yorikane MASUMOTO, then the president and mayor of Kyoto City, characterized the expansion of the subway line up to Rakusai as his 'ardent wish.'
Incidentally, the official website of Kyoto City states, 'We shall aim to complete the subway line up to Rakusai New Town; however, given our financial condition we should establish the section between Nijo and Tenjingawa as the first step in this direction.'

Dissolution of Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd.

As mentioned above, the Tozai Line has chronically operated in the red. Therefore, on May 12, 2008, the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau announced that it would dissolve Kyoto Kosoku Railway Co., Ltd., by the end of fiscal year 2008, and that the entire Tozai Line would be under the direct control of Kyoto City in fiscal year 2009.

This announcement was made based on the fact that the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau has been paying the track line-usage fee of 5.5 billion yen per year as a financial resource for repayment of the construction cost, but a high interest rate was set for the first loan and company expenses such as labor cost began to pile up; these are becoming factors in the subway's worsening business condition.

List of stations

(1) Including passengers who directly go to the Keihan Keishin Line

(2) Including users of the Karasuma Line but not including passengers who transfer mutually between the Tozai Line and the Karasuma Line (that is, indicating the number of people who pass through the ticket gate at Karasuma Oike Station)