|Tsurumi Terminus well retains the ambiance of an old private railway end terminal.||Trains in use on the Tsurumi line are all 3-car Type 103 EMU sets.|
One of the more unusual EMU services among JR commuter lines in the Tokyo metropolitan area is the Tsurumi line. It is a short commuter line that runs in a heavy industrial area located just south of Tokyo on the seacoast of Tokyo Bay. The uniqueness of the line is: first; the patrons are mostly commuters who are involved in the area's heavy industries, such as chemical plants, steel mills, ship yards, heavy machine works, electric works, etc.: second; it is associated with a lot of freight sidings with a number of tracks leading to industrial facilities: third; none of the passenger stations are staffed, except Tsurumi terminus.
Under this situation, the railway was taken over by the national
railway in 1943 who turned it into its Tsurumi line. Its prosperity
continued even after the war for twenty years until around 1965. After
this period, both commuter and freight transportation demands begun to
decline as modernization in the industries it served resulted in a
reduction of workers and a modal shift of freight away from rail
towards trucks. As a result of measures having taken place to reduce
the line's operation costs in 1971, all stations became unattended, and
some sidings and tracks leading to industrial facilities were removed.
However, even these days, the line busily carries industrial commuters,
as a matter of course only at peak time in the morning and evening. JR
Freight Co. still serves rail freight by the line for the area's
industries. Commodities transported by the line seem to be mostly
petroleum products, cement and metal.
Take a look at the rail map of the line. The line originates from Tsurumi on the Tokaido main line, but its terminus is located on elevated tracks, with no direct rail links between the lines. This is the remnant of an old feature that a private EMU line was extended to a station on the national railway.
The main route of the Tsurumi line is between Tsurumi and Ogimachi, a
distance of 7.0km. Its branch lines are a 1.7km segment between Asano
and Umi-Shibaura, and the Musashi-Shiraishi to Okawa section, 1.6km.
The line meets the Nambu-branch line at Hama-Kawasaki, but passenger
facilities of both lines are separated. The entire trackage is fully
signaled with automatic blocking, and all the stations and yards are
protected by a concentrated solid state interlocking, which controls
all the crossovers and turnouts from one location.
The EMUs in service for the line's fleet are all 3-car Type 103s in
their yellow livery, which used to be dominant all over the national
railway's commuter lines in the Tokyo area, including the Yamanote
circle line, Chuo line, etc. They are fitted with three types of ATS
equipment, ATS-P, ATS-Sn and ATS-B, which allow them to run by
themselves along other JR main lines when they are sent to a
maintenance work shop.
The line's service pattern is a little bit complicated. During rush hours, the traffic is fairly busy with Ogimach-bound trains running every 10 to 15 minutes, and through services to Umi-Shibaura and Okawa operated about every 15 minutes. The frequency on the busiest segment between Tsurumi and Asano is every 3 to 5 minutes in the morning from 7:00 to 9:00. After the morning peak time, the traffic drops to every 20 minutes at Tsurumi terminus with one out of three going on to Umi-Shibaura. No trains are operated to Okawa during off-peak periods. In the evening rush hour, the line resumes busy operations, but is not so frequent as in the morning. Trains depart from Tsurumi terminus with about 5-minute dispatch intervals during the evening peak.
The Tsurumi line crosses over the Tokaido main line just after leaving Tsurumi terminus.|
Let's ride a train on the Tsurumi line. The Tsurumi line terminus in JR Tsurumi station is on the elevated structure just adjacent to the main line on the ground level. Automated ticket gates are at the boundary between the station's main concourse and the terminus checking passengers for the possession of tickets, which have to be purchased from ticket vending machines placed at unattended stations on the line. The double track terminus looks obsolete with its old structure, but well retains the ambience of an old private railway's end terminal with the arched ceiling. A three-car train rolled in. The train was bound for Umi-Shibaura. The number of passengers aboard, according to my rough calculation, was about 120. It was a fairly good loading rate as in mid-afternoon on a Saturday. The train soon departed just on time.
An Ogimachi-bound train rolling into Kokudo station.|
|The monument of the Namamugi incident.|
Under the elevated track of Kokudo station is a dim arcade
which well conveys the feeling of the days of old Tsurumi Port Railway.
The entrance of the station was illuminated in the dim lights.
|A train pulls out Bentembashi station.|
At Asano, a branch line to Umi-Shibaura diverges.|
The next station was Bentenbashi, named after a small shrine deified by
fishermen who used to inhabit the seacoast around this area. From
Tsurumi-Ono, a single track in use for freight traffic runs parallel to
the double track EMU line as far as Hama-Kawasaki, with many branches
to industrial facilities.
|A Umi-Shibaura-bound train rolls along the bank of a canel.|
|The platform of Umi-Shibaura station is just above the sea.|
Running along the bank for a while, the train arrived in Shin-Shibaura.
Although beyond this station is inside the territory of Toshiba's
Tsurumi factory, the line further leads to Umi-Shibaura, the end
terminal of the branch line. A JR passenger line running inside a
company's private site is very unusual. Slowly rolling for a while
along the track that now has changed to single, the train took a sharp
curve again to the right, then pulled into Umi-Shibaura. The station
platform is located just above the sea. On the island across the sea
are some large industrial complexes and the Waterfront Expressway
connecting Chiba-Tokyo-Yokohama can be seen far away. Since the station
is situated within Toshiba territory, general passengers cannot walk
out of the platform.
A Tsurumi-bound train rolling into Anzen station.|
The Okawa branch line diverges from the point just in front of this
station. A vintage Kumoha 12, a single unit EMU built in 1929, shuttled
during rush hours between this station and Okawa until quite recently.
The unit was displaced earlier in this year when through service from
Tsurumi was introduced using the usual Type 103 EMUs. Around the branch
line are a number of complex industrial facilities including Tsurimi
thermal power plant of Tokyo Electric Co. Okawa was also named after
Okawa Heizaburo, the founder of the Okawa financial conglomerate. The
track further stretches beyond Okawa for freight traffic.
Ogimachi terminus, the far end of the line.|
After leaving Showa, rolling along the edge of another freight yard,
the train finally arrived in Ogimachi. The area used to be a good
seaside resort for sea bathing and gathering shellfishes before the
war, known as Ogi island. Now, the station is surrounded with some oil
complexes, warehouses and other industrial facilities. In the yard were
a number of tank cars. The freight track extends further from the yard
beyond the station.
Hama-Kawasaki terminus of the Nambu branch line.|
|Type 101 on the Nambu-branch line.|
I like the Tsurumi line because of its special features, such as having a lot of sidings and industrial tracks with a number of turnouts protected by position light dwarf signals, with which the ambience of real railways has been well retained. Also few big changes have ever occurred in the line's station facilities and in the industrial scenery outside the window, although some sidings and industrial tracks have disappeared. I had the experience of commuting to one of the stations on the line for a couple of months when I was very young, more than 30 years ago. When I travel along the line sometimes, I feel everything on the line is almost the same as at that time, except the modern rolling stock that displaced the old EMUs.
Tsurumi Line Photos