Sōbu Main Line

The Sōbu Main Line(Japanese: 総武本線, Japanese pronunciation: [Sōbu-honsen]) is a Japanese railway line operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in Japan. It connects Tokyo with the east coast of Chiba Prefecture, passing through the cities of Funabashi, Chiba, and Chōshi. Its name derives from the old provinces of the area which it serves: Musashi (Japanese: 蔵国), Shimōsa (Japanese: ) and Kazusa (Japanese: ). Its official line color is navy.

Sōbu Main Line
Series-E235-1000 J10.jpg
OwnerJR logo (east).svg East Japan Railway Company (JR East)
LocaleTokyo, Chiba prefectures
Operator(s)JR East, JR Freight
Opened20 July 1894 (1894-07-20)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification1,500 V DC
Route map

JR Sōbu Main Line linemap.svg


Formally, the Sōbu Main Line refers to the line from Tokyo to Chōshi.

However, informally, the character of the line changes at Chiba. The more urbanized section west of Chiba is informally, but commonly, called the Sōbu Line(Japanese: 総武線, Japanese pronunciation: [Sōbu sen]) without using "Main". The "Main Line", in popular usage, refers to the more rural section east of Chiba.

Route maps, signs at stations, in trains, and the vocal announcements all maintain this distinction: with Main for the eastern rural section; without Main for the western frequent travel zone.[1]


  • Distances:
  • Electrification: DC 1500 V excluding the non electrified Etchūjima freight line
  • Tracks
    • Quadruple: Kinshichō - Chiba
    • Double: Tokyo - Kinshichō, Kinshichō - Ochanomizu, Chiba - Sakura
    • Single: Sakura - Chōshi, Shin-Koiwa - Etchūjima Freight Line, Shin-Koiwa - Kanamachi Freight Line


Services west of Chiba (Tokyo/Ochanomizu - Chiba)Edit

Local trains run between Ochanomizu and Chiba Station and are called the Chūō-Sōbu Line (Japanese: 中央・総武線, Japanese pronunciation: [tɕɯːoː soːbɯ seɴ]) or Sōbu-Local Line (Japanese: 総武緩行線, Japanese pronunciation: [soːbɯ kaŋkoː seɴ]).

Rapid trains are also operated from Tokyo Station to Chiba Station and use different tracks from the local service trains. These Rapid trains sometimes continue east on the Main Line after reaching Chiba. In reverse, Sobu Main Line trains also sometimes continue west on the Rapid Line after reaching Chiba, some even go on the Yokosuka Line after Tokyo. The rapid trains are called Sōbu Rapid Line (Japanese: 総武快速線, Japanese pronunciation: [soːbɯ kaisokɯ seɴ]).

For the most part, Rapid and Local trains run parallel with each other, except when they reach Kinshicho, where Sōbu Line Local trains continue onto the Chūō Line at Ochanomizu via Akihabara, while Sōbu Line Rapid trains head to Tokyo, with most of them continuing onto the Yokosuka Line.

For more details of services west of Chiba, see the relevant articles for the Local and Rapid Lines.

Services east of Chiba (Chiba - Chōshi)Edit

The section east of Chiba, from Chiba to Chōshi, is commonly known as the Sōbu Main Line (Japanese: 総武本線, Japanese pronunciation: [Sōbu Hon Sen]). The aforementioned Sōbu Rapid Line through service trains would terminate at Sakura or Narutō on the Main Line, or go on the Narita Line after Sakura for Narita Airport or Kashima-Jingu. Aside from that, there are also local trains running along the entire section, from Chiba to Chōshi.

Limited expressEdit

The Narita Express to Narita Airport Station and the Ayame to Chōshi use the Sōbu Main Line for their journey.

Shiosai, also a Limited Express service, which operates from Tokyo Station to Chōshi, also uses this line.


Tokyo / Ochanomizu - Kinshichō - ChibaEdit

Here is a list of stations within this section. ([ ] denotes the Ochanomizu - Kinshicho section.) Tokyo - Shin-Nihombashi - Bakurochō [ Ochanomizu - Akihabara - Asakusabashi - Ryōgoku - Kinshichō ] Kameido - Hirai - Shin-Koiwa - Koiwa - Ichikawa - Moto-Yawata - Shimōsa-Nakayama - Nishi-Funabashi - Funabashi - Higashi-Funabashi - Tsudanuma - Makuharihongō - Makuhari - Shin-Kemigawa - Inage - Nishi-Chiba - Chiba

Chiba - ChōshiEdit

For the connections of the line, see the route diagram.

From Chiba to Sakura, the section is double track; and from Sakura onwards to Choshi, the section is single track.


  • ● : All trains stop
  • ▲ : Only westbound trains (for Chiba, Tokyo) stop
  •  : All trains pass
Station Distance Sōbu Main Line


Sōbu Line (Rapid) through service Transfers Location
No. Name Japanese Between stations From Chiba From Tokyo Rapid Commuter


Through to JO Sōbu Line (Rapid)
JO28 Chiba 千葉 - 0.0 39.2 JO Sōbu Line (Rapid) (JO28) (Occasional through service)

JB Chūō-Sōbu Line (JB39)

Uchibō Line

Sotobō Line

Chiba Urban Monorail Line 1, Line 2

KS Keisei Chiba Line (Keisei Chiba: KS59)

Chūō-ku, Chiba
JO29 Higashi-Chiba 東千葉 0.9 0.9 40.1
JO30 Tsuga 都賀 3.3 4.2 43.4 Chiba Urban Monorail Line 2 Wakaba-ku, Chiba, Chiba
JO31 Yotsukaidō 四街道 3.5 7.7 46.9 Yotsukaidō, Chiba
JO32 Monoi 物井 4.2 11.9 51.1
JO33 Sakura 佐倉 4.2 16.1 55.3 Narita Line Sakura, Chiba
Minami-Shisui 南酒々井 4.0 20.1 59.3 Shisui, Chiba
Enokido 榎戸 2.9 23.0 62.2 Yachimata, Chiba
Yachimata 八街 3.7 26.7 65.9
Hyūga 日向 5.8 32.5 71.7 Sanmu, Chiba
Narutō 成東 5.2 37.7 76.9 Togane Line
Matsuo 松尾 5.6 43.3 82.5
Yokoshiba 横芝 4.3 47.6 86.8 Yokoshiba, Chiba
Iigura 飯倉 3.8 51.4 90.6 Sōsa, Chiba
Yōkaichiba 八日市場 3.1 54.5 93.7
Higata 干潟 5.1 59.6 98.8 Asahi, Chiba
Asahi 4.8 64.4 103.6
Iioka 飯岡 2.7 67.1 106.3
Kurahashi 倉橋 2.9 70.0 109.2
Saruda 猿田 2.6 72.6 111.8 Chōshi, Chiba
Matsugishi 松岸 5.5 78.1 117.3 Narita Line
Chōshi 銚子 3.2 81.3 120.5 Chōshi Electric Railway Line

Rolling stockEdit

Limited expressEdit


Chūō-Sōbu LineEdit

Sōbu Line (Rapid)Edit

Sōbu Main LineEdit


Private constructionEdit

Initially, the line was constructed by a private company, Sōbu Railway(Japanese: 総武鉄道, Japanese pronunciation: [Sōbu Tetsudō]). It opened the first service sections, between Ichikawa and Sakura on July 20, 1894, and extended to Tokyo City. In December of the same year, Honjo(Japanese: 本所, now Kinshichō) was opened, and in 1904, on the east bank of Sumida River, Ryōgokubashi(Japanese: 両国橋, now Ryōgoku) became a terminal of this line. The access routes to the west, to Tokyo City, were tramways for passengers and ships for freight. From Sahara to the east, this line reached another terminus, Chōshi in 1897.


The line was nationalized in 1907 under the Railway Nationalization Act, and was double-tracked from Ryōgokubashi to Chiba the next year. The predecessor of the Japanese National Railways (JNR) planned to connect with other lines inside Tokyo. In 1932, a new passenger line was opened from Ochanomizu to Ryōgoku (with new platform besides the original terminal facility), and a frequent service of EMUs[clarification needed] commenced. Electrification to Chiba was completed in 1935, and local trains have run through from the Chūō line since then. But, except for a few trains, no rapid service was operated on this line, and the passengers had to use the local train, or its rival, Keisei Electric Railway.

Bombing of TokyoEdit

On March 10, 1945, the Bombing of Tokyo caused casualties estimated at 70,000–100,000, and destroyed stations of the line. During the last days of World War II in 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army thought the US Army would attempt a landing operation, "Operation Coronet", on Kujūkuri Beach, and transferred troops on the Sōbu Main Line.

Steam trainsEdit

Between Chiba and Chōshi, in the rural area of Chiba Prefecture, steam traction was used until recently. Fish and soy sauce from Chōshi were major freight items. Because Tokyo was close, JNR did not provide rapid or express trains from Ryōgoku to Chōshi until 1958. JNR operated tourist trains from Ryōgoku to the seaside resorts on the coast from the 1950s.

Five-destination operationEdit

In the 1960s, JNR started the Five-Destination Operation(Japanese: 五方面作戦,Japanese pronunciation: [Go Hōmen Sakusen]) to steeply increase commuter demand, and it determined that a new rapid line would be constructed from Tokyo Station to Chiba. A new underground line from Tokyo to Kinshichō, and a four-tracked section to Tsudanuma were opened in 1972, and the operator began frequent rapid services from Tokyo to Chiba. The line was managed by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) from 1987. The parallel Keiyō Line was opened closer to the coast in 1990. It was first constructed for freight services but later to carry passengers.

Further electrificationEdit

To the east of Chiba, electrification reached Chōshi in 1974, and Limited Express Shiosai has been operated from the underground Tokyo Station since 1975. Freight services from Chōshi ceased in 1986, just before the privatization of JNR, and regular passenger trains stopped using the Ryōgoku terminal platforms in 1988. JR East started a new airport train, the Narita Express in 1991. Rapid urbanization around Chiba Station made this section important for commuter traffic, for the city of Chiba, and for Greater Tokyo.

Former connecting linesEdit

  • Shimosa-Nakayama station (see Chuo-Sobu Line) - A 2 km 610 mm (2 ft) gauge human powered line, built to haul sweet potatoes and firewood, but which also carried passengers from 1911, operated to Kamagaya between 1908 and 1918.
  • Yachimata station - The Narita Railway Co. opened a 14 km, 600 mm (1 ft 11+58 in) gauge line to Sanrizuka in 1917. In 1928 the line was converted to 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge in conjunction with the extension of the Tako Line (see next entry) to Youkaichiba via Sanrizuka. The line closed in 1940.
  • Youkaichiba station - The Narita Railway Co. operated the Tako line, 30 km in length, to Narita between 1928 and 1944.


  • JTB (ed.) (2008). "JTB Jikokuhyō" JTB時刻表 [JTB Timetable]. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (ed.) (2000). Heisei 13 Nendo-ban Tetsudō Yōran 平成13年度版鉄道要覧 [Railway Directory FY2001] (in Japanese). Tokyo: (鉄道図書刊行会, Tetsudōtosho Kankōkai). pp. 34, 60, 279, 292. ISBN 4-88548-099-X.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  1. ^ This custom is also seen in Chūō Main Line and less in Tōkaidō Main Line