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An 115 series EMU at Ōmae Station, November 2006
|Line length||55.6 km (34.5 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)|
|Electrification||1,500 V DC overhead catenary|
The Agatsuma Line (吾妻線, Agatsuma-sen) is a local rail line in Gunma, Japan, and is part of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) network. Approximately following the Agatsuma River, it is 55.6 km between Shibukawa and Ōmae stations.
|Shibukawa||渋川||0.0||Jōetsu Line (all trains through to Takasaki)||Shibukawa||Gunma|
|Ichishiro||市城||2.3||16.4||Nakanojō, Agatsuma District|
|Gunma-Haramachi||群馬原町||3.1||22.9||Higashiagatsuma, Agatsuma District|
|Kawarayu-Onsen||川原湯温泉||5.9||36.4||Naganohara, Agatsuma District|
|Fukurogura||袋倉||2.9||49.6||Tsumagoi, Agatsuma District|
The line opened on 2 January 1945 as the freight-only Naganohara Line (長野原線) operating between Shibukawa and Naganohara Station (長野原駅) (present-day Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station). Passenger services were introduced as far as Nakanojō from 5 August 1945, to Iwashima from 20 November 1945, and to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi from 20 April 1946.
On 1 October 1952, the line was extended to Ōshi Station (太子駅), initially for freight only, but passengers services were also introduced from 21 June 1954. Freight services between Shibukawa and Ōshi ceased as of 1 October 1966.
Services on the section between Naganohara and Ōshi were suspended as of 1 November 1970, and on 7 March 1971, a new line was opened beyond Naganohara to Ōmae, with the entire line renamed Agatsuma Line at the same time. The Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi to Ōshi line was formally closed as of 1 May 1971. CTC signalling on the entire line was also commissioned at the same time.
It had been proposed[when?] to extend the line to Nagano, but geological exploratory drilling revealed extensive faulting beyond Ōmae, and as any extension would have required extensive tunnelling, this was considered impractical.
Yanba Dam construction
The Yanba Dam was proposed for construction, and required the realignment of the line between Iwashima and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. Construction of the diversion was well advanced when a change of government in 2009 resulted in the project being halted. Another change of government in 2012 revived the project. Services on the old section of the line were suspended following the last scheduled service on 24 September 2014 to allow commissioning of the new alignment. The new alignment opened for passenger services on 1 October 2014. The new route was be 0.3 km shorter, and resulted in the shortest tunnel in Japan, the 7m Tarusawa Tunnel, being abandoned, although it will not be inundated by the new dam.
Points of interest
The Agatsuma Line is noted for numerous onsen hot springs along the route. The famous hot springs at Kusatsu are some distance north of the line, but several rural onsen such as those at Shima, Sawatari, Kawarayu, and Shiriyaki are more accessible.
- 上越線・吾妻線で211系の営業運転開始 [211 series enter service on Joetsu Line and Agatsuma Line]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Ishino, Tetsu, ed. (1998). 停車場変遷大辞典 国鉄・JR編 [Station Transition Directory - JNR/JR]. I. Japan: JTB. p. 105. ISBN 4-533-02980-9.
- 吾妻線新線で試運転 [Test-running starts on new Agatsuma Line section]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "Japan’s shortest railway tunnel sees its last days", AsiaOne, September 19, 2014.
- "Farewell to Japan’s shortest rail tunnel", Nippon TV, September 25, 2014 (video).