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The Hokusō Line (北総線, Hokusō-sen) is a commuter rail line operated by the third-sector Hokusō Railway in Japan. It runs between Keisei-Takasago Station in Katsushika, Tokyo and Inba-Nihon-Idai Station in Inzai, Chiba. It is part of the primary Keisei route between central Tokyo and Narita International Airport through the Narita Sky Access Line. It uses the ATS Type 1 system.
A Hokusō Line 7500 series EMU in May 2014
|Locale||Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture|
|Opened||March 9, 1979|
|Owner||Hokusō Railway (between Keisei-Takasago and Komuro; Category 1)|
Chiba New Town Railway (between Komuro and Inba-Nihon-Idai; Category 3)
|Line length||32.3 km (20.1 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||1,500 V DC overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||105 kilometres per hour (65 mph), upgrading to 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) for Narita Rapid|
Most trains are all-station "Local" services, but some limited-stop "Rapid" express trains have operated in morning and evening hours.
- Local (普通 Futsū) (L)
- Stops at all stations, all day. Through to Keisei Main Line, Keisei Oshiage Line, Toei Asakusa Line, Keikyū Main Line, Keikyū Airport Line and Keikyū Kurihama Line.
- Express (急行, Kyūkō) (Ex)
- Runs only in the evening on weekdays, down from Keisei line.
- Limited Express (特急, Tokkyū) (LE)
- Runs only on weekdays.
|No.||Station||Japanese||L||Ex||LE||Sky Access Line||Transfers||Location|
|Chiba New Town Chūō||千葉ニュータウン中央||●||●||●||●||Inzai|
|Inba-Nihon-Idai||印旛日本医大||●||●||●||●||Narita Sky Access Line (Through service to Narita Airport Terminal 1)|
Chiba New Town RailwayEdit
- Chiba New Town Railway 9100 series (since 1994, branded "C-Flyer")
- Chiba New Town Railway 9200 series (since March 2013)
- Chiba New Town Railway 9800 series (since 21 March 2017)
Keisei Electric RailwayEdit
- Keisei 3000 series (since 2003)
- Keisei 3050 series (since 2010)
- Keisei 3400 series (since 1993)
- Keisei 3500 series (refurbished sets only)
- Keisei 3700 series (since 1991)
- Keisei AE series (since 2010)
- Toei 5300 series (since 1991, through service with Toei Asakusa Line)
- Toei 5500 series (since 2018, through service with Toei Asakusa Line)
Former rolling stockEdit
Chiba New Town RailwayEdit
- 7000 series (from 1979 until 2007)
- 7050 series (rebadged Keisei 3150 series cars leased from Keisei)
- 7150 series (from 1991 until 1998, converted from former Keikyu 1000 series EMUs)
- 7250 series (from 2003 until 2006, converted from former Keisei 3150 series EMUs)
- Hokuso 7260 series (from 2006 until March 2015, converted from Keisei 3300 series EMUs)
Shin-Keisei Electric RailwayEdit
- 800 series (also leased to Hokuso Railway)
- 8800 series
- 8900 series
- Keisei 200 series
Keisei Electric RailwayEdit
- 3050 series (original) (until 1995)
- 3100 series (until 1998)
- 3150 series
- 3200 series (until 2007)
- 3300 series (unrefurbished sets)
- 3500 series (unrefurbished sets)
- 3600 series
- 5000 series
- 5200 series
- Keikyu 1000 series (until 2010)
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The first section of the line, from Komuro to Shin-Kamagaya, opened in March 1979, including a temporary connection to the Shin-Keisei Line at Kita-Hatsutomi. As other tracks were connected, it changed name to "Hokusō Kōdan Line" in April 1987. Over 17 years later, the railway properties of the HDC corporation transferred to Chiba New Town Railway (千葉ニュータウン鉄道, Chiba Nyūtaun Tetsudō), on July 1, 2004, and the whole line was renamed as the Hokusō Line.
This section was planned as a railway access to Chiba New Town. Initially proposed by a committee of the then Ministry of Transport, the route was numbered "Line 1", as the northern extension of Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (Toei) Line 1 (present Asakusa Line) to Komuro area of Chiba New Town. In 1979 the first phase of this section between Kita-Hatsutomi and Komuro opened. The through-operation via Shin-Keisei Line to Matsudo began, on a temporary basis until the second phase of this section could connect the town directly to the Keisei and Asakusa Line network.
The second phase section to Keisei-Takasago on the Keisei Main Line opened in 1991, and through-operation began. In the following year, Shin-Keisei included Shin-Kamagaya Station as a transfer station, and abandoned the temporary route.
The section east of Komuro was initially the eastern part of a once-planned Chiba Prefectural Railway (千葉県営鉄道, Chiba Ken'ei Tetsudō) (II, apart from the first which opened the Tōbu Noda Line and the Kururi Line) as an extension of Line 10 (Shinjuku Line). The line was to be built from Moto-Yawata via Komuro to parallel to the line above, then to terminate at present Inba-Nihon-Idai. The first section between Komuro and Chiba New Town Chūō was opened in 1984, and the operations were commissioned to the present Hokusō Railway.
- March 9, 1979: Hokusō Line (first phase) of Hokusō Development Railway (北総開発鉄道, Hokusō Kaihatsu Tetsudō) Kita-Hatsutomi – Komuro. Through-operation via Shin-Keisei Line to Matsudo on temporary basis.
- March 19, 1984: Chiba New Town Line (千葉ニュータウン線, Chiba Nyūtaun sen) of Housing and Urban Development Corporation (住宅・都市整備公団, Jūtaku Toshi Seibi Kōdan) (HUDC onwards) Komuro – Chiba New Town Chūō
- April 1, 1987: On the section of Komuro – Chiba New Town Chūō, Hokusō Development Railway became the Category-2 Railway Business operator, while HUDC became Category-3 Railway Business. On the commencement of the Railway Business Act (鉄道事業法, Tetsudō Jigyō Hō), Act No. 92 of 1986) for the privatization of the Japan National Railways. Simultaneously, the entire stretch was renamed to Hokusō Kōdan Line (北総・公団線, lit. Hokusō and the Corporation Line)
- March 31, 1991: Hokusō Line (phase 2) Keisei-Takasago – Shin-Kamagaya. Through-operations by four parties (Hokusō, Keisei Electric Railway, Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (Toei), Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyū)) began.
- July 4, 1992: Shin-Keisei opened Shin-Kamagaya Station. Through-operation to Shin-Keisei terminated. The section of Kita-Hatsutomi – Shin-Kamagaya was abandoned.
- April 1, 1995: Chiba New Town Chūō – Inzai-Makinohara, as Hokusō Cat-2, HUDC Cat-3
- 1999: HUDC reorganized to the Urban Development Corporation (都市基盤整備公団, Toshi Kiban Seibi Kōdan) (HDC onwards), continued state of Cat-3 of the line.
- July 22, 2000: Inzai-Makinohara – Inba-Nihon-Idai, as Hokusō Cat-2, HDC Cat-3. Present stretch completed.
- July 1, 2004: Railway properties of HDC transferred to Chiba New Town Railway (千葉ニュータウン鉄道, Chiba Nyūtaun Tetsudō), and the whole line was renamed as the Hokusō Line.
Extension to Narita AirportEdit
After the abandonment of the planned Narita Shinkansen, routes of rapid transit to Narita Airport had long been discussed. For a utilization of partially completed tracks of the Shinkansen, JR East and Keisei lines to Narita Airport were realized. A much faster line had long been needed, and for that purpose the first priority was the Keisei – Hokusō route. In 2001, a new Cat-3 entity, Narita Rapid Rail Access (成田高速鉄道アクセス, Narita Kōsoku Tetsudō Access) commenced building a new line connecting Inba-Nihon-Idai to the junction to Narita Airport Rapid Railway (成田空港高速鉄道, Narita Kūkō Kōsoku Tetsudō) which is a Cat-3 company of existing access railways, the tracks of the formerly planned Narita Shinkansen. The express trains are operated by Keisei as a Cat-2 operator with maximum speed at 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), the fastest in Japanese private railway together with Hokuetsu Express, which enables a 34-minute journey from Nippori to Narita Airport. The line opened in July 2010.
Hokuso Railway fares are significantly higher than those of other private railways in the region. A journey of 12.7 km on the Hokuso Line costs 540 yen, while a 23.8 km journey costs 720 yen. Equivalent journeys on the Keisei Main Line cost 250 yen and 360 yen respectively; equivalent journeys on JR cost 210 yen and 380 yen respectively. The difference in fares is largely due to the debt burden remaining from the portion of the line built and owned by Hokuso Railway itself; this is also the case for the Tōyō Rapid Railway Line and the Saitama Rapid Railway Line, which are also known for having comparatively high fares.
In 2009, Chiba Prefecture and several municipalities along the line agreed with Hokuso Railway for an average fare reduction of 4.6% (25% for student commuter passes), in exchange for which they agreed to subsidize half of the estimated revenue loss of 600 million yen. The fare reduction was implemented in July 2010 at the time of the opening of the Narita Sky Access Line. In 2011 and 2012, the cities of Shiroi and Inzai elected new mayors on platforms of negotiating for further fare reductions and stopping public subsidies respectively; a third-party study commissioned by the two city governments concluded in August 2013 that the Hokusō Line would break at even more discounted fare levels without local subsidies. Hokuso, on the other hand, has argued that increased consumption tax rates and capital expenditures related to upgrading the Pasmo system will force them to raise fares in 2015.
- 千葉ニュータウン鉄道9800形が営業運転を開始 [Chiba New Town Railway 9800 series enters revenue service]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 22 March 2017. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- 杉山, 淳一 (5 April 2013). "なぜ北総線の運賃は高いのか "円満解決"の方法を考える". IT Media. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "北総線、補助金打ち切りへ 千葉県内沿線２市". Nikkei Inc. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "北総線、値下げ継続できるか 補助金切れ「2015年」迫る". Nikkei Inc. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- Official website (in Japanese)