Keihan Railway runs a 91.1Km-long network connecting Osaka to Kyoto, fomed essentially by the mostly-quad-tracked Keihan Main Line and several smaller branchlines such as the Katano and Uji Lines, and the separated “Otsu Line” network, an interurban-like light railway system made up of two lines (the Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line and the Keishin Line) running along the western shore of Lake Biwa.
Depsite operating both within Osaka and Kyoto, Keihan Railway has become synonimous with the latter as it is the main focus of it’s operations.
Keihan railway started operations in 1910, with the opening of today’s Keihan Main Line, the first electric railway connecting Osaka to Kyoto (the parallel JGR Tokaido Line was still operated with steam locomotives). Later, in 1929, Keihan Railway also acquired what is today’s Otsu Lines network, purchasing the two lines from the Biwako Railway & Steamship company.
In the 1920s Keihan railway started the construction of another Osaka-Kyoto Line trough it’s subsidiary company “Shin-Keihan Railway”, wich was eventually merged into the “proper” Keihan in 1930, two years after the Shinkeihan line had opened.
During the second world war, the Japanese Government, to rationalize railway operations in the face of wartime austerity, forced Keihan Railway to merge with it’s competitor Hankyu Railway, togheter with all the other private railway operating in the Keihanshin (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe) region. The new conglomerate, the “Keihanshin Kyuko” railway, began operations in 1943, and was eventually disbanded after the war in 1949, with the constituent companies becoming independent again and re-acquiring their pre-war networks with a few exceptions, such as the Shin-Keihan Line, wich remained under Hankyu’s ownership and is today the Hankyu Kyoto Line.
Similar mergers were also made in several other parts of Japan, both on a large scale (such as in Toyko with the Dai-Tokyu era) and a smaller scale (such as the cases of the Toyama Chiho Railway or the Hokuriku Railway).
After the war, Keihan Railway began to modernize it’s network and rolling stock, by putting the Osaka and Kyoto terminuses underground and by introducing cutting-edge technology and unique fetaures on it’s rolling stock, such as fitting TVs on limited express trains starting in 1954, something that became an iconic fetaure of Keihan railway ever since.
Keihan Railway has also several subsidiaries, wich are managed trough the Keihan Holdings company, such as the Keifuku and Eizan light railways in Kyoto, smaller bus companies and the Sakamoto funicular railway, wich operates on Mount Hiei.
Due to due to it’s uniqueness, the Otsu Line network is particularily famous among enthusiasts, and easily overshadows Keihan’s “Main” network in terms of popularity.
With half of the rolling stock in service older than 35 years, Keihan Railway fleet’s average age is one of the highest among major Japanses private railways.
Katano and Uji Lines (trough-services with the Keihan Main Line)
“Otsu Lines” Network
Keishin Line (trough-services with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line)
Train icons made by Curoka