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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ueno Tokyo Train Line Opens

A couple of years ago we blogged about a new railway line being built through Tokyo, from Ueno station to Tokyo station, that was at that time referred to as the Tohoku Jukan Line.

Ueno Tokyo Line track over Yasukuni-dori, Tokyo.
Ueno Tokyo Line track - at very top, piggybacked on shinkansen line - over Yasukuni-dori, Tokyo, Japan.
The tentatively named Tohoku Jukan Line has now been completed, and opened last Saturday, March 14, as the newly named Ueno Tokyo Line. Basically, until now Ueno has been the terminal station for the three lines that serve Tokyo from the north-east: the Utsunomiya Line (which is actually a section of the Tohoku Main Line), the Joban Line and the Takasaki Line.

Until last Saturday, if riding any of these lines in the Tokyo direction to go further west in Japan, you had to get off at Ueno and change to the Keihin Tohoku line or Yamanote line bound for Tokyo Station. You could then change to the eastbound Tokaido Line from there. However, the Ueno Tokyo Line now joins the three northern lines to the Tokaido Line. This has been done by extending the Tohoku Main Line (AKA the Utsunomiya Line) down to Tokyo. Trains from all four lines run right through Ueno, Tokyo and Shinagawa station by way of this extension.

In other words the Ueno Tokyo line now allows direct access to Tokyo and Shinagawa stations and beyond on the Utsunomiya, Takasaki and Joban lines, and direct access to Ueno Station and beyond on the Tokaido line.

Between 8am and 9am every day: 5 Utsunomiya Line trains and 5 Takasaki line trains go via Ueno, Tokyo and Shinagawa stations and continue on down the Tokaido line as far as Shinagawa, Hiratsuka, Atami, Kokubunji, or Odawara. 3 Joban Line trains from Toride and 2 from Narita go through to Shinagawa via Ueno and Tokyo stations.

Between 10am and 5pm every day: 21 Utsunomiya Line trains and 21 Takasaki line trains go via Ueno, Tokyo and Shinagawa stations and continue on down the Tokaido line.
28 Joban Line trains (14 tokkyu special expresses, 6 kaisoku expresses and 8 local trains) from Toride go through to Shinagawa via Ueno and Tokyo stations.

Between 5pm and 11pm every day: 39 Tokaido Line trains go through Shinagawa, Tokyo and Ueno stations, 19 of them to the Utsunomiya Line and 20 of them to the Takasaki Line.
26 Joban Line trains (6 tokkyu special expresses, 19 kaisoku expresses and 1 local train) go from Shinagawa station through Tokyo and Ueno Stations and through to Narita or Toride.

On the Utsunomiya Line it now takes 36 minutes between Omiya and Tokyo (a saving of 9 minutes), 46 minutes between Omiya and Shinagawa (saving 10 minutes), and about an hour between Yokohama and Omiya (saving about 10-15 minutes).

On the Joban Line, it now takes 39 minutes between Kashiwa and Tokyo (saving 7 minutes) and 49 minutes between Kashiwa and Shinagawa (saving 8 minutes). With the advent of the Ueno Tokyo Line opening, the Joban Line also now offers two new kinds of the train, the express Hitachi, and the local Tokiwa.

Another new train service launching at this time is the Local Green Car, an upscale option for those traveling on a local train. The Local Green Car is available on all four lines that the Ueno Tokyo Line connects: the Utsunomiya Line, the Takasaki Line, the Tokaido Line and the Joban Line. The price of an upgrade to a Local Green Car depends on whether you book ahead or buy the ticket from the conductor on the train, whether it is a weekday or a holiday, and on the total length of your trip.

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