Jōban Line

The Jōban Line (常磐線, Jōban-sen) is a railway line in Japan operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It begins at Nippori Station in Arakawa, Tokyo and approximately parallels the Pacific coasts of Chiba, Ibaraki, and Fukushima Prefectures before the line officially ends at Iwanuma Station in Iwanuma, Miyagi. However, northbound trains at Tokyo originate at Ueno (and Shinagawa with the opening of the Ueno-Tokyo Line on March 14, 2015) rather than Nippori; likewise, many trains continue past Iwanuma onto the Tōhoku Main Line tracks to Sendai.

The name “Jōban” is derived from the names of the former provinces of Hitachi (陸) and Iwaki (城), which are connected by the line to reach Tokyo.

The section of the Joban Line between Tomioka and Namie, which extends through the exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, remains closed in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and is expected to reopen in March 2020.

The Jōban Line connects Tokyo and the Tōhoku region. After the opening of the Tōhoku Shinkansen in 1982, the Jōban Line was split into two parts at Iwaki. South of Iwaki is mainly double track (Ayase – Toride is quad track), and north of Iwaki is predominantly single track. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the Jōban Line is further segmented in the Iwaki – Sendai section.

This entire section is served by a variety of services, which will be explained below by the sections where they operate in.

Limited express trains operate across the entire section. See Hitachi and Tokiwa for details.

This section is mainly served by local, rapid, medium distance train services serving the Greater Tokyo area.

Trains that run beyond Toride are distinctly referred to as the Jōban Line 常磐線, without the term “Rapid”. Trains that are called Jōban Line (Rapid) cannot go beyond Toride, as their rolling stock cannot be powered by alternating current, which is the type of electrification that the section uses.

This section is mainly served by local trains.

This section is mainly served by local trains.

Before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, local trains and limited express trains used to run across the entire section. However, due to the damages caused after the disaster, the section between Tomioka to Harunomachi had to be closed down, and services were suspended. The section had to be heavily segmented. Now, services are gradually returning to normal, as explained below.

The section is served by local service trains. Trains cannot continue on beyond Tomioka as they once did, because the section beyond is closed (explained below).

Currently, the section between Tomioka and Namie, which extends through the exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, remains closed, and is expected to reopen in March 2020. All train services are suspended, which are now temporarily replaced by buses operating between Tomioka and Namie / Haranomachi.

This section is served by local service trains, which serves the Greater Sendai area.

The section was once partially closed due to the 2011 disaster, but has reopened in stages. The reconstructed segment between Hamayoshida and Sōma was reopened on 10 December 2016, prior to which services had been provided by an interim bus service. JR East is currently inspecting the segment between Namie and Odaka in preparation for the surrounding areas being cleared for re-settlement. Train services between Namie and Odaka resumed on 1 April 2017. Train services between Tatsuta and Tomioka resumed on 21 October 2017.

快速

特別快速

各駅停車

普通(medium
distance)

Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (H-21)
TS Tobu Skytree Line
Tsukuba Express (05)

Legend

普通

Akita Shinkansen

Tohoku Main Line (for Ichinoseki and Rifu)

Senzan Line

Senseki Line
Sendai Subway Namboku Line

Sendai Subway Tōzai Line

A Joban Line 209–1000 series EMU, November 2011

A Joban Line E233-2000 series EMU, June 2012

A Tokyo Metro 6000 series train for Toride

A Tokyo Metro 16000 series train

An Odakyu 4000 series train

A Joban Line E231 series EMU, July 2008

An E501 series EMU, April 2003

A Joban Line E531 series EMU stopping at Ueno, October 2014

A JR East 701 series train at Kashima Station, May 2014

A JR East E531 series train

A JR East E721 series train at Sendai Station, August 2010

An E657 series EMU on a Super Hitachi service, July 2011

A 485 series EMU on a Hitachi service, August 1998

A Joban Line 103 series EMU, January 2003

A Joban Line 415 series EMU, July 2006

The sole 207-900 series EMU, May 2006

A 203 series EMU, July 2009

A 415-1500 series EMU in September 2007

A 651 series EMU on a Super Hitachi service, July 2008

An E653 series EMU on a Fresh Hitachi service, April 2003

The Mito Railway opened the line in sections between 1889 and 1905. The dates of the individual section openings are given below. After the line was nationalised in 1906, a program of double-tracking commenced in 1910, with the 219 km section between Nippori and Yotsukura completed in 1925. The Hirono – Kido and Ono – Futaba sections were double-tracked in 1976.

The first section electrified was Nippori – Matsudo (at 1,500 V DC) in 1936, and extended to Toride in 1949. The Toride – Kusano section was electrified at 20 kV AC between 1961 and 1963, and extended to Iwanumi in 1967.

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami caused severe disruption to the line, with services to Iwaki (209.4 km from Nippori) re-established by 17 April, to Yotsukura (a further 9.8 km) by 14 May, and to Hirono (another 13.2 km) by 10 October 2011. Services on the 8.5 km Hirono – Tatsuta section returned on 1 June 2014.

At the northern end, services on the isolated 20.1 km Haranomachi – Soma section were restored on 21 December 2011, with services from Iwanuma to Hamayoshida (13.5 km) restored on 16 March 2013. Services resumed on the 9.4 km Haranomachi – Odaka section on 12 July 2016 and the 22.6 km Hamayoshida – Soma section was rebuilt at a higher, tsunami-proof level, and reopened on 10 December 2016, re-establishing the connection to Sendai for stations north of Odaka. The 33.6 km Odaka – Tatsuta section is proposed to reopen in stages by March 2020.

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