The Keifuku Electric Railway, nicknamed “Randen”, operates a small 11Km-long network composed by the main 7.2Km-long Arashiyama line from Shijo-Omiya to Arashiyama and the 3.8Km-long secondary Kitano line, wich branches off the Arashiyama line at Katabiranotsuji station and runs to Kitano-Hakubaicho.
While legally classified as a tramway, the Randen network can be considered more of a “Light railway” (but not a “Light rail”) as it operates on a mostly reserved right-of-way with protected level crossings (only with a few street-running sections), runs using an automatic block signalling system (as opposed to tramways’ on-sight running) and it uses proper platform-level boarding truought all of it’s network (again, opposed to tramways’ street-level boarding).
Depsite all the differences, the Randen network still shares many traits with conventional tramways, such as the simplified overhead lines carrying the 600v DC traction current. Furthemore, all of Randen’s railcars are directly and strictly derived from conventional trams (and in some cases, they actually re-use equipment such as pantographs and bogeys salvaged from withdrawn Kyoto trams).
The Arashiyama line was opened in 1910 by the Arashiyama Electric Tramway. Later the line was transferred to the Kyoto Dento comapny (“Kyoto Electric” – whose main businnes was electric power generation), wich opened the Kitano line in 1925. In 1942, the whole network was transferred to the ad-hoc founded Keifuku Electric Railway.
The Keifuku Electric Railway is the “core” company of the Keifuku group, itself part (and a direct subsidiary) of the Keihan group of the Keihan Electric Railway. The Keifuku Electric Railway also used to own today’s Eizan network until 1985, when the two lines were handed over to the Eizan Electric Railway company (itself too a Keihan subsidiary) and the current Echizen Railway network in Fukui prefecture until 2002, before they were taken over by the prefectural-government-managed, ad-hoc founded Eichizen Railway.