Joshin Electric Railway



The current Joshin Electric Railway originally opened in 1897 as a 762mm gauge steam light railway connecting Takasaki to Shimonita. In 1924 the company was restructured as the present-day Joshin Electric Railway and the line was regauged to 1067mm and electrified at 1500v DC. Plans were made to extend the line further westwards, to Haguroshita Station on the Koumi Line, however they were never carried out.


After the second world war, the Joshin Railway’s situation was not as dire as other rural railways as the line was an important mean of commuter transportation to and from Takasaki, where passengers could quickly and easily transfer to trains bound for Tokyo. However, the railway’s equipment was ageing, and expenses were raising, thus the company was forced to resort to subsidies granted from the Gunma Prefectural Governmet.

Thanks to these subsidies, Joshin Railway was able to modernize itself early on, installing automatic block signals in 1973 and an ATS saftey system in 1985. Also thanks to the subsidies, by the early 1980s Joshin Railway was able to replace the entirety of it’s inadequate pre-war era rolling stock with both newer second-hand stock (purchased from Seibu Railway) and with newly-built stock, a rarity for rural local railways, especially at the time.


As of today, the Joshin Railway remains an important commuter railway, altough it’s ridership has been dwindling for sometime due to depopulation of the areas it serves. The company used to operate both freight services (with JNR and later JR Freight wagons, carrying cement and fertilizer hauled by 1920s-vintage electric locomotives dating to the line’s electrification) and skip-stop passenger services. Both services have been discontinued, in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

Currently only all-stop local services are operated on the line, run by a variegated fleet of one-man operated 2-car electric multiple units, either purchased second-hand (from Seibu Railway mainly and from JR East as well in recent times) or by newly-built stock, wich is purchased once in a while by the company.



Electric Multiple Units