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JR Saikyo Line linemap.svg
A northbound Saikyō Line train bound for Kawagoe takes on passengers at Shinjuku Station.

The Saikyō Line (埼京線 Saikyō-sen ?, an abbreviation for "Saitama-Tokyo Line") is a railway line between Ōsaki Station in Shinagawa, Tokyo) and Ōmiya Station (Ōmiya Ward, Saitama, Japan).

At the northern end of the line, some trains continue beyond Ōmiya as far as Kawagoe Station on the Kawagoe Line. At Ōsaki, most Saikyō Line trains continue onward to Shin-Kiba on the Rinkai Line operated by Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit.

The line runs parallel to the Yamanote Line between Ōsaki and Ikebukuro, where it is formally called the Yamanote Freight Line (山手貨物線 ?), and to the Tōhoku Main Line between Akabane and Ōmiya, where it is unofficially called the Second Tohoku Line (東北別線 ?). The portion between Ikebukuro and Akabane is officially known as the Akabane Line (赤羽線 ?). For most purposes, JR refers to all of these as part of the "Saikyō Line" when being used for Saikyō Line services.[1]

Contents

History

Before the Saikyō Line, there were several attempts to improve commuter rail service between Saitama and Tokyo. One of the earliest, the Tokyo-Ōmiya Electric Railway (東京大宮電気鉄道 Tōkyō-Ōmiya Denki Tetsudō ?), was founded in 1928 but went bankrupt shortly thereafter due to rising land values in the area. Later, in 1968, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Transportation proposed to run the new Toei Mita Line to central Ōmiya.

Development of the Saikyō Line began as a Japanese National Railways effort to quell unrest in Saitama regarding the expansion of the Tōhoku and Jōetsu Shinkansen. During the mid-1970s, local protesters staged sit-ins, demonstrations and administrative actions to impede the building of the new high-speed lines north of Tokyo. JNR reached a settlement with the activists under which it would build a commuter line to serve these local communities, while being left alone to develop the Shinkansen as well.

The new line, tentatively called the New Commuter Line (通勤新線 Tsūkin Shinsen ?), was built between Ōmiya and Akabane. Through service to Ikebukuro through the existing Akabane Line began on September 30, 1985. The line was initially troubled by inadequate train control systems which could not keep pace with its frequency of service: however, these issues were worked out during the first month of service.

In March 1986, the Saikyō Line began through service to Shinjuku through the Yamanote Freight Line, which had seen less use by freight services since the opening of the Musashino Line in 1973. Service to Shibuya and Ebisu did not begin until 1996, when new platforms were completed to accommodate passenger service. Service to Ōsaki and the Rinkai Line began in 2001.

The Saikyō Line has had a particularly severe problem of overcrowding during rush hour. Some of the traffic was redirected to Shōnan-Shinjuku Line upon completion of line extension construction in 2004. The completion of the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line in 2008, which also serves the Saitama-Yamanote corridor, is expected to bring more relief. Problems of overcrowding have included a higher incidence of groping, as well as delays in train schedule caused by longer time taken at each station to pick up and drop off passengers. The Saikyō Line was notorious for having the highest report of groping-related incidents (known as chikan) in Tokyo.[1] This problem was directly addressed by installments of women-only passenger cars, which are cars that are temporarily off-limits to men during rush hours, and indirectly addressed by reducing overcrowding problems as a whole.

Service

There are three types of trains on the Saikyō Line: Local trains (普通), Rapid trains (快速) and Commuter Rapid trains (通勤快速). Between Ōmiya and Akabane, Rapid trains only stop at Toda-Kōen, Musashi-Urawa and Yono-Hommachi, while Commuter Rapid trains, which run during rush hours, stop only at Musashi-Urawa. South of Akabane, as well as on the Kawagoe and Rinkai lines, all trains make all scheduled station stops.

The equipment used on the Saikyō line consists of 205 series EMU trains owned by JR East, and TWR 70-000 series EMU trains owned by Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit (only used on Rinkai Line through services).

Stations

Line Station name km Stops Location
Yamanote Ōsaki 0.0 L R C Shinagawa Tokyo
Ebisu 3.6 L R C Shibuya
Shibuya 5.2 L R C
Shinjuku 8.6 L R C Shinjuku
Ikebukuro 13.4 L R C Toshima
Akabane
Itabashi 15.2 L R C Itabashi
Jūjō 16.9 L R C Kita
Akabane 18.9 L R C
Tōhoku
Kita-Akabane 20.4 L
Ukima-Funado 22.0 L
Toda-Kōen 24.4 L R Toda Saitama
Toda 25.7 L
Kita-Toda 27.1 L
Musashi-Urawa 29.5 L R C Minami-ku,
Saitama
Naka-Urawa 30.7 L
Minami-Yono 32.4 L Chūō-ku,
Saitama
Yono-Honmachi 34.0 L R
Kita-Yono 35.1 L
Ōmiya 36.9 L R C Ōmiya-ku,
Saitama

Legend

L: Stops of local trains (train numbers end with "K")
R: Stops of Rapid trains (train numbers end with "F")
C: Stops of Commuter Rapid trains (train numbers end with "S")

Rolling stock

References

  1. ^ JR Timetable, December 2008 issue
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