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Tōkaidō Main Line

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Title: Tōkaidō Main Line  
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Subject: Tōkaidō Shinkansen, Kakegawa Station, Chūō Main Line, Fuji Station, Ōfuna Station
Collection: 1067 Mm Gauge Railways in Japan, Lines of Central Japan Railway Company, Lines of East Japan Railway Company, Lines of West Japan Railway Company, Rail Transport in Aichi Prefecture, Rail Transport in Gifu Prefecture, Rail Transport in Hyōgo Prefecture, Rail Transport in Kanagawa Prefecture, Rail Transport in Kyoto Prefecture, Rail Transport in Osaka Prefecture, Rail Transport in Shiga Prefecture, Rail Transport in Shizuoka Prefecture, Rail Transport in Tokyo, Railway Lines Opened in 1872, Tōkaidō Main Line
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tōkaidō Main Line

Tōkaidō Main Line
An E233 series EMU on the Tōkaidō Main Line, January 2012
Native name 東海道本線
Type Heavy rail
Locale Kantō, Tōkai, Kansai regions
Termini Tokyo
Stations 166 (passenger only)
Opened 1872
Operator(s) JR East
JR Central
JR West
Track length 713.6 km (443.4 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Operating speed 130 km/h (80 mph)
Route map

The Tōkaidō Main Line (東海道本線 Tōkaidō-honsen) is a major Japanese railway line of the Japan Railways Group (JR Group) network, connecting Tokyo and Kōbe stations. It is 589.5 km (366.3 mi) long, not counting its many freight feeder lines around the major cities. The high-speed Tokaido Shinkansen largely parallels the line.

The term "Tōkaidō Main Line" is largely a holdover from pre-Shinkansen days; now various portions of the line have different names which are officially used by JR East, JR Central, and JR West. Today, there are no passenger trains that operate over the entire length of the line (other than certain overnight services; see below), so longer intercity trips require several transfers along the way.

The Tokaido Main Line is owned and operated by three JR companies:


  • Basic data 1
  • Station list 2
    • JR East 2.1
    • JR Central 2.2
      • Branch lines 2.2.1
        • Mino-Akasaka Branch Line
        • Tarui Branch Line
    • JR West 2.3
      • Biwako Line 2.3.1
      • JR Kyoto Line 2.3.2
      • JR Kobe Line 2.3.3
  • Limited express services 3
    • Daytime trains 3.1
    • Overnight trains 3.2
    • Discontinued trains 3.3
  • Rolling stock for local and rapid services 4
    • JR East 4.1
    • JR Central 4.2
    • JR West 4.3
    • Former rolling stock 4.4
  • History 5
    • Former connecting lines 5.1
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Basic data

  • Total distance: 713.6 km (443.4 mi) (including branch lines; Tokyo – Kōbe is 589.5 km (366.3 mi))
    • East Japan Railway Company (JR East) (Services and tracks)
      • Tokyo – Atami: 104.6 km (65.0 mi)
      • Shinagawa – Shin-Kawasaki – Tsurumi: 17.8 km (11.1 mi)
      • Hamamatsuchō – Tokyo Freight Terminal – Kawasaki Freight Terminal – Hama-Kawasaki: 20.6 km (12.8 mi) (Tōkaidō Freight Line)
      • Tsurumi – Hatchō-Nawate: 2.3 km (1.4 mi) (Tōkaidō Freight Line)
      • Tsurumi – Higashi-Takashima – Sakuragichō: 8.5 km (5.3 mi) (Takashima Line)
      • Tsurumi – Yokohama-Hazawa – Higashi-Totsuka: 16.0 km (9.9 mi) (Tōkaidō Freight Line)
    • Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) (Services and tracks)
      • Atami – Maibara: 341.3 km (212.1 mi) (3.3 km (2.1 mi) between Kanayama – Nagoya overlaps with Chuo Main Line)
      • Ōgaki – Mino-Akasaka: 5.0 km (3.1 mi) (Mino-Akasaka branch line)
      • Ōgaki – (Shin-Tarui) – Sekigahara: 13.8 km (8.6 mi) (Shin-Tarui Line)
    • West Japan Railway Company (JR West) (Services and tracks)
      • Maibara – Kōbe: 143.6 km (89.2 mi)
      • Kyōto Freight Terminal – Tambaguchi: 3.3 km (2.1 mi) (not in use by passenger trains)
      • Suita – (Miyahara Rail Yard) – Amagasaki: 10.7 km (6.6 mi) (Hoppō Freight Line)
      • Suita – Umeda – Fukushima: 8.5 km (5.3 mi) (Umeda Freight Line, used by Haruka limited expresses)
    • Japan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight) (Tracks and services)
      • Sannō Signal – Nagoya-Minato: 6.2 km (3.9 mi) (Nagoya-Minato Line)
      • Suita Signal – Osaka Freight Terminal: 8.7 km (5.4 mi) (Osaka Terminal Line)
    • Japan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight) (Services only)
      • Shinagawa – Atami: 97.8 km (60.8 mi)
      • Shinagawa – Shin-Tsurumi Signal: 13.9 km (8.6 mi)
      • Tokyo Freight Terminal – Hama-Kawasaki: 12.9 km (8.0 mi)
      • Tsurumi – Yokohama-Hazawa – Higashi-Totsuka: 16.0 km (9.9 mi)
      • Tsurumi – Hatchō-Nawate: 2.3 km (1.4 mi)
      • Tsurumi – Shinkō – Sakuragichō: 11.2 km (7.0 mi)
      • Atami – Maibara: 341.3 km (212.1 mi)
      • Minami-Arao Signal – Sekigahara: 10.7 km (6.6 mi)
      • Minami-Arao Signal – Mino-Akasaka: 1.9 km (1.2 mi)
      • Maibara – Kōbe: 139.0 km (86.4 mi) (via Hoppō Freight Line)
      • Kyōto Freight Terminal – Tambaguchi: 3.3 km (2.1 mi)
      • Suita – Umeda – Fukushima: 8.5 km (5.3 mi)
  • Gauge: 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Narrow gauge railway
  • Stations:
    • Passenger: 166 (does not include Shinagawa – Shin-Kawasaki – Tsurumi section or branches other than Mino-Akasaka branch line)
      • JR East: 34
      • JR Central: 82
      • JR West: 50
    • Freight only: 14
  • Tracks:
    • Four or more
      • Tokyo – Odawara: 83.9 km (52.1 mi)
      • Nagoya – Inazawa: 11.1 km (6.9 mi)
      • Kusatsu – Kōbe: 98.1 km (61.0 mi)
    • Two
      • Odawara – Nagoya
      • Inazawa – Kusatsu
      • Shinagawa – Shin-Kawasaki – Tsurumi
      • Hamamatsuchō – Tokyo Freight Terminal – Kawasaki Freight Terminal – Hama-Kawasaki
      • Tsurumi – Hatchō-Nawate
      • Tsurumi – Higashi-Takashima
      • Tsurumi – Yokohama-Hazawa – Higashi-Totsuka
      • Suita – Umeda
      • Suita – (Miyahara Rail Yard) – Amagasaki
    • Single-track: All other sections
  • Electrification: 1,500 V DC (except for Sannō Signal – Nagoya-Minato)
  • Railway signalling: Automatic Train Control
  • Maximum speed:
    • Tokyo – Ōfuna, Odawara – Toyohashi: 110 km/h (68 mph)
    • Ōfuna – Odawara, Toyohashi – Maibara: 120 km/h (75 mph)
    • Minami-Arao Signal – Tarui – Sekigahara, Minami-Arao Signal – Mino-Akasaka: 85 km/h (53 mph)
    • Maibara – Kōbe: 130 km/h (81 mph)

Station list

JR East

The Tokaido Main Line shown in orange in this map of the southern approaches to Tokyo

This section is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

The Tokaido Main Line in the Greater Tokyo Area has rapid services called Rapid Acty (快速アクティー Kaisoku akutī) and Commuter Rapid (通勤快速 Tsūkin Kaisoku). It runs on dedicated tracks parallel to the Yamanote Line in central Tokyo, the Keihin-Tōhoku Line between Tokyo and Yokohama, and the Yokosuka Line between Tokyo and Ōfuna. Some Shōnan-Shinjuku Line trains share the segment south of Yokohama to Ōfuna and Odawara.

The Ueno-Tokyo Line, a JR East project, extended the services of the Utsunomiya Line, the Takasaki Line, and the Joban Line to Tokyo Station, allowing for through services to and from the Tokaido Line from March 2015.[1]

Almost all trains along this section of the line have "Green Cars" with forward-facing seats, which can be used after paying an additional fee.

Station Japanese Distance (km) Rapid
Transfers Location
Tokyo 東京 - 0.0 Tōhoku Shinkansen, Jōetsu Shinkansen, Hokuriku Shinkansen, Yamanote Line, Chūō Main Line, Sōbu Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Keiyō Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line(M-17)
Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line (Ōtemachi Station: T-09)
Chiyoda Tokyo
Shimbashi 新橋 1.9 1.9 Yamanote Line, Yokosuka Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line(G-08)
Toei Asakusa Line(A-10)
Shinagawa 品川 4.7 6.8 Yokosuka Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Yamanote Line
Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Keikyu Main Line
Kawasaki 川崎 11.4 18.2 Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Nambu Line
(Keikyu-Kawasaki) Keikyu Main Line, Keikyu Daishi Line
Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki Kanagawa
Yokohama 横浜 10.6 28.8 Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Negishi Line, Yokosuka Line
Tōkyū Tōyoko Line
Keikyu Main Line
Sagami Railway Main Line
Yokohama City Transportation Bureau: Yokohama municipal subway line 3 (Blue Line)
Minatomirai Line
Nishi-ku, Yokohama
Totsuka 戸塚 12.1 40.9 Yokosuka Line
Yokohama City Transportation Bureau: Yokohama municipal subway line 1 (Blue Line)
Totsuka-ku, Yokohama
Ōfuna 大船 5.6 46.5 Negishi Line, Yokosuka Line
Shonan Monorail
Sakae-ku, Yokohama
Fujisawa 藤沢 4.6 51.1 Odakyū Enoshima Line
Enoshima Electric Railway
Tsujidō 辻堂 3.7 54.8
Chigasaki 茅ヶ崎 3.8 58.6 Sagami Line Chigasaki
Hiratsuka 平塚 5.2 63.8   Hiratsuka
Ōiso 大磯 4.0 67.8   Ōiso, Naka District
Ninomiya 二宮 5.3 73.1   Ninomiya, Naka District
Kōzu 国府津 4.6 77.7 Gotemba Line Odawara
Kamonomiya 鴨宮 3.1 80.8  
Odawara 小田原 3.1 83.9 Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Odakyū Odawara Line
Hakone Tozan Line, Izu-Hakone Railway Daiyūzan Line
Hayakawa 早川 2.1 86.0  
Nebukawa 根府川 4.4 90.4  
Manazuru 真鶴 5.4 95.8     Manazuru, Ashigarashimo District
Yugawara 湯河原 3.3 99.1     Yugawara, Ashigarashimo District
Atami 熱海 5.5 104.6   Itō Line
Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Atami Shizuoka
  • Shōnan Liner services are special, all-reserved commuter express trains with comfortable seating. They operate from Odawara to Tokyo on weekday mornings, with a few services terminating in Shinagawa. Return services run from Tokyo to Odawara on weekday evenings. Like commuter rapid trains, Shōnan Liner services normally make no stops between Shinagawa and Fujisawa. Between Fujisawa and Odawara, varying stops are made. In addition to the standard fare, a reserved seat fee of ¥500 is required to use the Shōnan Liner.
  • Keihin-Tōhoku Line stations between Tokyo and Yokohama officially are a part of the Tōkaidō Main Line. These stations are: Yūrakuchō, Hamamatsuchō, Tamachi, Ōimachi, Ōmori, Kamata, Tsurumi, Shin-Koyasu, and Higashi-Kanagawa.
  • Yokosuka Line stations between Tokyo and Ōfuna officially are a part of the Tōkaidō Main Line. These stations are: Nishi-Ōi, Musashi-Kosugi, Shin-Kawasaki, Hodogaya, and Higashi-Totsuka. The route of the Yokosuka Line between Shinagawa and Tsurumi is separate from the main line and is referred to as the Hinkaku Line, on which Nishi-Ōi, Musashi-Kosugi, and Shin-Kawasaki stations are located.

JR Central

The Tokaido Line between Atami and Maibara is operated by JR Central, and covers the Tōkai region - Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, and Gifu Prefecture.

Station Japanese Distance (km) Rapid Services Home Liner Transfers Location
Rapid New
Atami 熱海 104.6           Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Itō Line
Atami Shizuoka
Kannami 函南 9.9 114.5             Kannami, Tagata District
Mishima 三島 6.2 120.7           Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Izuhakone Railway Sunzu Line (some morning/evening through services)
Numazu 沼津 5.5 126.2         Gotemba Line Numazu
Katahama 片浜 4.1 130.3          
Hara 2.5 132.8          
Higashi-Tagonoura 東田子の浦 4.6 137.4           Fuji
Yoshiwara 吉原 3.9 141.3         Gakunan Railway Line
Fuji 富士 4.9 146.2         Minobu Line
Fujikawa 富士川 3.5 149.7          
Shin-Kambara 新蒲原 2.8 152.5           Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka
Kambara 蒲原 2.4 154.9          
Yui 由比 3.5 158.4          
Okitsu 興津 5.9 164.3          
Shimizu 清水 4.7 169.0          
Kusanagi 草薙 5.2 174.2         Shizuoka Railway Shizuoka-Shimizu Line
Higashi-Shizuoka 東静岡 3.5 177.7           Aoi-ku, Shizuoka
Shizuoka 静岡 2.5 180.2         Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Shizuoka Railway Shizuoka-Shimizu Line (Shin-Shizuoka)
Abekawa 安倍川 4.3 184.5           Suruga-ku, Shizuoka
Mochimune 用宗 2.1 186.6          
Yaizu 焼津 7.1 193.7           Yaizu
Nishi-Yaizu 西焼津 3.3 197.0          
Fujieda 藤枝 3.3 200.3           Fujieda
Rokugo 六合 4.6 204.9           Shimada
Shimada 島田 2.9 207.8          
Kanaya 金谷 5.1 212.9         Oigawa Railway Oigawa Main Line
Kikugawa 菊川 9.3 222.2           Kikugawa
Kakegawa 掛川 7.1 229.3         Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Tenryū Hamanako Railroad
Aino 愛野 5.3 234.6           Fukuroi
Fukuroi 袋井 3.5 238.1          
Iwata 磐田 7.8 245.9           Iwata
Toyodachō 豊田町 2.9 248.8          
Tenryūgawa 天竜川 3.9 252.7           Higashi-ku, Hamamatsu
Hamamatsu 浜松 4.4 257.1     Tokaido Shinkansen
Enshū Railway Line (Shin-Hamamatsu)
Naka-ku, Hamamatsu
Takatsuka 高塚 5.3 262.4         Minami-ku, Hamamatsu
Maisaka 舞阪 5.1 267.5         Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu
Bentenjima 弁天島 2.3 269.8        
Araimachi 新居町 3.1 272.9         Kosai
Washizu 鷲津 3.7 276.6        
Shinjohara 新所原 5.8 282.4       Tenryū Hamanako Railroad
Futagawa 二川 4.3 286.7         Toyohashi Aichi
Toyohashi 豊橋 6.9 293.6 Tōkaidō Shinkansen, Iida Line
Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line
Toyohashi Railway Atsumi Line (Shin-Toyohashi), Toyohashi Railroad Azumada Main Line (Ekimae)
Nishi-Kozakai 西小坂井 4.8 298.4   Toyokawa
Aichi-Mito 愛知御津 3.7 302.1  
Mikawa-Ōtsuka 三河大塚 3.1 305.2   Gamagori
Mikawa-Miya 三河三谷 3.1 308.3  
Gamagori 蒲郡 2.3 310.6 Meitetsu Gamagōri Line
Mikawa-Shiotsu 三河塩津 2.3 312.9 Meitetsu Gamagōri Line (Gamagōri-Kyōteijō-Mae)
Sangane 三ヶ根 2.6 315.5   Kōta, Nukata District
Kōda 幸田 3.0 318.5  
Aimi 相見 3.1 321.6  
Okazaki 岡崎 7.4 325.9 Aichi Loop Line Okazaki
Nishi-Okazaki 西岡崎 4.2 330.1  
Anjō 安城 3.6 333.7   Anjō
Mikawa-Anjō 三河安城 2.6 336.3 Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Higashi-Kariya 東刈谷 1.8 338.1   Kariya
Noda-Shinmachi 野田新町 1.6 339.7  
Kariya 刈谷 1.9 341.6 Meitetsu Mikawa Line
Aizuma 逢妻 1.9 343.5  
Ōbu 大府 3.0 346.5 Taketoyo Line Ōbu
Kyōwa 共和 3.0 349.5  
Minami-Ōdaka 南大高 2.3 351.8   Midori-ku, Nagoya
Ōdaka 大高 1.8 353.6  
Kasadera 笠寺 3.2 356.8   Minami-ku, Nagoya
Atsuta 熱田 4.0 360.8   Atsuta-ku, Nagoya
Kanayama 金山 1.9 362.7 Chūō Main Line
Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line
Nagoya Municipal Subway: Meijō Line (M01), Meikō Line (E01)
Naka-ku, Nagoya
Otōbashi 尾頭橋 0.9 363.6   Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya
Nagoya 名古屋 2.4 366.0 Tōkaidō Shinkansen, Kansai Main Line, Chūō Main Line
Kintetsu Nagoya Line (Kintetsu-Nagoya)
Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line (Meitetsu-Nagoya)
Higashiyama Line (H08), Sakura-dōri Line (S02)
Aonami Line (AN01)
Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
Biwajima 枇杷島 4.0 370.0 Tōkai Transport Service Jōhoku Line Kiyosu
Kiyosu 清洲 3.8 373.8   Inazawa
Inazawa 稲沢 3.3 377.1  
Owari-Ichinomiya 尾張一宮 6.0 383.1 Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line, Meitetsu Bisai Line (Meitetsu-Ichinomiya) Ichinomiya
Kisogawa 木曽川 3.5 388.6  
Gifu 岐阜 7.7 396.3 Takayama Main Line
Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line, Meitetsu Kagamihara Line (Meitetsu Gifu)
Gifu Gifu
Nishi-Gifu 西岐阜 3.2 399.5
Hozumi 穂積 1.0 400.5   Mizuho
Ōgaki 大垣 9.5 410.0 Tōkaidō Main Line (Mino-Akasaka, Shin-Tarui branch lines)
Kintetsu Yoro Line
Tarumi Railway Tarumi Line
Tarui 垂井 8.1 418.1   Tarui, Fuwa District
Sekigahara 関ヶ原 5.7 423.8 Tōkaidō Main Line (Shin-Tarui branch line) Sekigahara, Fuwa District
Kashiwabara 柏原 7.1 430.9     Maibara Shiga
Ōmi-Nagoka 近江長岡 4.3 435.2    
Samegai 醒ヶ井 4.6 439.8    
Maibara 米原 6.1 445.9   Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Hokuriku Main Line, Biwako Line (Tōkaidō Main Line)
Ohmi Railway Main Line

Branch lines

Both the Mino-Akasaka and Tarui branch lines separate from the Main Line at Minami-Arao junction (南荒尾信号場), located 3.1 km west of Ōgaki Station.

Mino-Akasaka Branch Line
Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
Total (from Ōgaki)
Ōgaki 大垣 - 0.0 Tōkaidō Main Line Ōgaki Gifu
Arao 荒尾 3.4 3.4  
Mino-Akasaka 美濃赤坂 1.6 5.0  
Tarui Branch Line

Between Ōgaki and Sekigahara, there is a 25 per mil grade. In 1944, a single track bypass was built to avoid this steep slope of the main line and the old westbound track was removed.

Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
Total (from Ōgaki)
Ōgaki 大垣 - 0.0 Tōkaidō Main Line Ōgaki Gifu
Tarui 垂井 8.1 8.1 Tarui, Fuwa District
Sekigahara 関ヶ原 5.7 13.8 JR Central: Tōkaidō Main Line Sekigahara

JR West

The western part of the Tōkaidō Main Line from Maibara to Kōbe is operated by JR West and forms the main trunk of the company's Urban Network in the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area. Although the line is divided into three segments, known as the Biwako Line, JR Kyoto Line, and JR Kobe Line, they are part of a single contiguous network, with many services traversing multiple sections. The Biwako Line includes a segment of the Hokuriku Main Line. Some services on the Kosei, JR Takarazuka and Gakkentoshi lines run through onto the Tōkaidō Main Line.

Biwako Line

The section between Maibara and Kyoto is known as the Biwako Line. The line also includes the section of the Hokuriku Main Line between Maibara and Nagahama, where some Kyoto-bound trains originate.

JR Kyoto Line

The section between Kyoto and Osaka is known as the JR Kyoto Line. Trains from the Biwako and Kosei lines travel through onto the JR Kyoto Line and continue west towards the JR Kobe Line at Osaka.

JR Kobe Line

The westernmost section between Osaka and Kōbe is part of the JR Kobe Line, which continues west to Himeji on the Sanyō Main Line. Although Kōbe is the official terminus of the Tōkaidō Main Line, most trains continue to Nishi-Akashi, Himeji and beyond.

Limited express services

In addition to standard local, rapid, and special rapid service trains, the Tōkaidō Main Line also hosts a number of limited express services.

Daytime trains

Overnight trains

Overnight trains on the Tōkaidō Line go from Tokyo to western Honshū and Shikoku.

  • Sunrise Izumo (Tokyo – Izumo via Okayama) (Operates daily)
  • Sunrise Seto (Tokyo – Takamatsu) (Operates daily)
  • Sunrise Yume (Tokyo – Hiroshima) (Operates seasonally)
  • Moonlight Nagara (Tokyo – Ōgaki) (Operates seasonally - rapid service with reserved seats)

Discontinued trains

  • Overnight limited express Sakura (Tokyo – Nagasaki (discontinued March 2005), Tokyo – Sasebo (discontinued 1999))
  • Overnight limited express Izumo (Tokyo – Izumo via Tottori), discontinued March 2006
  • Limited express Wide View Tōkai (Tokyo – Shizuoka), discontinued March 2007
  • Overnight express Ginga (Tokyo – Osaka), discontinued March 2008
  • Overnight limited express Fuji (Tokyo – Ōita), discontinued March 2009
  • Overnight limited express Hayabusa (Tokyo – Kumamoto), discontinued March 2009

Rolling stock for local and rapid services

JR East

JR Central

JR West

Former rolling stock

  • E217 series (Tokyo – Atami, March 2006 - March 2015)[2]
  • 211 series (Tokyo – Atami – Numazu, through services onto the Itō Line, 1985 - April 2012)


Chigasaki Station, circa 1898

The Tōkaidō route takes its name from the ancient road connecting the Kansai region (Kyoto, Osaka) with the Kantō region (Tokyo, then Edo) through the Tōkai region (including Nagoya). Literally, it was the Tōkai road, or Road through Tōkai. The Tōkaidō Line does not follow the old road exactly, since the latter diverges at Nagoya toward the Mie Prefecture coastline; to follow it by train, the Kansai Main Line and Kusatsu Line would have to be followed from Nagoya to Kusatsu. The largest population centers in Japan are along this route - Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. These centers have grown to occupy an ever more dominant role in the country's government, financial, manufacturing and cultural life.[3]

Historically, one of the first priorities of Japanese railway planners was to build a line from Tokyo to the Kansai region, either following the Tokaido route or the northern Nakasendō route. This decision remained unresolved as regional needs were addressed. The first railway in Japan was the line from Shinbashi to Sakuragicho in Yokohama, which opened in 1872; another segment of today's Tokaido Main Line, between Kyoto and Kobe, opened in 1877.

In 1883, the government decided to use the Nakasendo route, and construction of several segments commenced (including the modern-day Takasaki Line). Railways were opened between Ogaki and Nagahama (1884) and between Nagoya and Kisogawa (1886) in line with the Nakasendo plan. However, by 1886, it was clear that the Tokaido route would be more practical, and so the Nakasendo plan was abandoned.

The lines between Kisogawa and Ogaki, Yokohama and Kozu, and Hamamatsu and Obu were completed in 1887, and the first line from Tokyo to Kobe was completed in 1889, when Kozu and Hamamatsu were connected through the present-day Gotemba Line corridor, and the final segments were completed between Kasumigahara and Otsu. At the time, there was one Tokyo-Kobe train in each direction per day, taking over 20 hours each way.

The "Tokaido Line" name was formally adopted in 1895. In October 1895, following the Sino-Japanese War, through service to the Sanyo Railway (now Sanyo Main Line) began. Express service between Tokyo and Kobe began in 1896, sleeper service in 1900, and dining car service in 1901.

In 1906, all privately run main lines were nationalized under the newly created Japan Imperial Railway, which, at the time had a network of just over 7000 km. Automatic couplers were introduced on all freight wagons in 1926. In 1930, the first Tsubame ("swallow") express was introduced, reducing the Tokyo - Kobe travel-time to nine hours - a significant reduction from the twenty hours required in 1889 and fifteen in 1903.[3]

Infrastructure improvements included the completion of double track on this route in 1913, and the opening of the 7.8 km long Tanna Tunnel, which shortened the route by omitting a detour round the mountains between Atami and Numazu. This was the last major change to the alignment of the route.

By the early 1950s the Tōkaidō Line had become the main transportation artery of Japan. Although it was only 3 percent of the railway system by length, it carried 24 percent of JNR's passenger traffic and 23 percent of its freight, and the rate of growth was higher than any other line in the country. By 1956 electrification was completed along the Tokyo-Osaka section and with the introduction of new Kodama trains, travel time was reduced to six and a half hours. The line became so popular that tickets regularly sold out within ten minutes of being put on sale, one month in advance of the travel date.[3]

The capacity constraints on the Tokaido Main Line had been clear prior to World War II, and work started on a new 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge "bullet train" line in 1940. Intercity passenger traffic between Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka largely transferred to the Tōkaidō Shinkansen after it was completed in 1964. Since then, the Tokaido Main Line has been used as a commuter and freight line, serving a very small number of long-distance passenger trains (mainly overnight and sleeper services).

Following the Hanshin earthquake on January 17, 1995, the line was shut down between Takatsuki and Kobe, with certain segments remaining impassable until April 1.

Former connecting lines

The handcar line near Yoshihama (see Atami Station)
The Yoshihama line after conversion to steam power, circa 1920
Mishima-Tamachi Station circa 1914 (see Numazu Station)
Mokogawa Station in 1944, note the dual-gauge track (see Nishinomiya Station)
  • Ninomiya Station: The Shonan Horse-drawn Tramway opened a 10 km line to Hatano in 1906 to haul tobacco. Steam locomotion was introduced in 1913. Passenger services ceased in 1933, and the line closed in 1935.
  • Odawara Station: The Japanese Tobacco Company operated an approximately 1 km line to its factory, electrified at 1,500 V DC, between 1950 and 1984. The line was also serviced by the adjoining Odakyu Odawara Line from its Ashigara station.
  • Atami Station: In 1895, a 10 km 610 mm (2 ft) gauge handcar line opened to Yoshihama, and was extended 4 km to Odawara the following year. In 1907, the line was converted to 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge and steam locomotives were introduced. The line closed in 1923 as a result of the Great Kanto earthquake.
  • Numazu Station: The Shuname Railway opened a 7 km line to Mishima-Tamachi on the Izuhakone Railway Sunzu Line in 1906. In 1915, the line was truncated 1 km to connect at Mishima-Hirokoji, and the line was electrified at 600 V DC in 1919. The line closed in 1961 following the destruction of the Kisegawa bridge during a flood.
  • Yoshiwara Station: The Fuji Horse Tramway (富士馬車鉄道 Fuji Basha Tetsudō) opened a 610 mm (2 ft) gauge line to Ōmiya (presentday Fujinomiya) in 1890. The Fuji Minobu Railway (富士身延鉄道 Fuji Minobu Tetsudō) purchased the tramway in 1912, converted it to a 1,067 mm gauge steam railway the following year and gradually extended it (eventually becoming the Minobu Line). In 1924, the company built a new alignment which connected to Fuji station on the Tokaido main line, at which time the original section from Omiya to Yoshiwara closed.
  • Shimizu Station: The JGR opened a 2 km freight-only line to Shimizu wharf in 1916. In 1944, the line was extended 6 km to Miha and passenger services were introduced. The line closed in 1984.
  • Shizuoka Station: The Abe Railway opened a 9 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line from Inomiya (approximately 2 km from Shizuoka) to Ushizuma in 1914 to haul timber. Plans to extend the line to Shizuoka did not eventuate and the line closed in 1934.

The Shizuoka Electric Railway opened a 2 km line to Anzai, connecting to its Shimizu Line, electrified at 600 V DC, between 1922 and 1926. The line closed in 1962.

  • Yaizu Station: A 5 km 610 mm (2 ft) handcar line operated to Fujieda between 1891 and 1900.
  • Fujieda Station: The Fuji-sho Railway opened a 4 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Ote in 1913, and by 1926 had extended the line progressively in both directions for a length of 38 km from Jitogata to Suruga-Okabe, although in 1936 the 5 km section from Suruga-Okabe to Ote was closed. In 1943, the company merged with the Shizuoka Railway (see Fujiroi Station below), and in 1948, a 7 km line between Mitsumata and Jitogata opened, linking the two sections. This section of the combined line closed between 1964 and 1970.
  • Shimada Station: The Fuji Prefectural Government opened a 3 km 610 mm (2 ft) gauge handcar line in 1898 to haul timber. In 1944, following the destruction of the nearby Tokaido Line bridge over the Oigawa, it was proposed to use the alignment of this line as a replacement, including a 930 m wooden bridge over the river. The bridge was about 25% completed when the end of the war resulted in the termination of the proposal. A diesel locomotive was introduced in 1955 to haul construction material for the construction of the adjacent national highway, and the line closed in 1959.
  • Kikukawa Station: The Joto horse-drawn tramway opened a 15 km 2 ft (610 mm) gauge line to Ikeshinden in 1899. In 1923, the line was converted to 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge, and a single-cylinder diesel locomotive introduced. The line closed in 1935.
  • Fukuroi Station: The Akiba horse-drawn tramway opened a 12 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Enshumori-Cho in 1902. In 1926, the company renamed itself the Shizuoka Electric Railway, converted the line to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge and electrified it at 600 V DC. The line closed in 1962.

The Shizuoka Railway opened a 10 km 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Yokosuka in 1914, extending it 7 km to Mitsumata in 1927. The company merged with the Fuji-sho Railway in 1943 (see Fujieda Station above), and in 1948, a 7 km line between Mitsumata and Jitogata opened, linking the two sections. This section of the combined line closed between 1964 and 1967.

  • Hamamatsu Station: The Dainippon Railway opened a 7 km, 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Kuniyoshi in 1909. In 1919, the line was acquired by the Enshu Railway Line, which closed the first 1 km of the line in 1925, so the new connecting station became Enshu-Magome. The line closed in 1937.
  • Okazaki Station: The Nishio Railway opened a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge line to Nishio in 1911, and extended it to Kira-Yoshida on the Meitetsu Gamagōri Line between 1915 and 1916. In 1926, the company merged with the Aichi Electric Railway, which between 1928 and 1929 converted the line to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge, electrified it at 600 V DC, and connected it to the line from Shin-Anjō on the Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line at Nishioguchi. The line to Nishio closed in 1962.

A 6 km tram line connected to the Meitetsu Koromo line at Okazaki-Ida Station, which between 1929 and 1962 connected to the Meitetsu Mikawa Line at Uwagoromo, the tramway also closing in 1962.

  • Owari-Ichinomiya Station: The 6 km Meitetsu line to Okoshi, electrified at 600 V DC, opened in 1924. When the voltage on the Meitetsu main line was increased to 1,500 V DC in 1952, services were suspended on this line. The substitute bus service proved so popular the line was closed rather than upgraded.
  • Ogaki Station: The Seino Railway opened a 3 km line from Mino-Akasaka to Ichihashi in 1928, and operated a passenger service from 1930 to 1945.
  • Nishinomiya Station: A 2 km freight-only line was opened in 1944 to connect to Mukogawa Station on the Hanshin Main Line. As the former was 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge, and the latter 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge, some tracks at Mukogawa were dual gauge. Service on the line ceased in 1958, but it was not formally closed until 1970.
  • Rokkomichi Station: A 5 km line to Kobe Port opened in 1907, electrified at 1,500 V DC. Passenger services ceased in 1974, and the line closed in 2003.
  • Arao Station (on the Mino Akasaka branch): A 2 km freight-only line to the Mino Okubo limestone quarry operated between 1928 and 1990.


This article incorporates material from the corresponding article in the Japanese WorldHeritage.

  1. ^ An Interview with the President on JR East website, retrieved 2009-05-13
  2. ^ JR東日本、東海道線E217系の営業運転終了 - 「湘南色」の帯で活躍した車両 [JR East E217 series withdrawn from Tokaido Line]. Mynavi News (in Japanese). Japan: Mynavi Corporation. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Roderick A. (2003). "The Japanese Shinkansen". The Journal of Transport History (Imperial College, London) 24/2: 22–236. 

External links

  • Stations of the Tōkaidō Main Line (JR East) (Japanese)
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