Kintetsu Railway



Kintetsu Railway (also known by it’s full name of “Kinki Nippon Railway”) is Japan’s largest private railway company, operating a network formed of both 1067mm and 1435mm-gauge lines connecting Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Yoshino, Ise and Nagoya for a total combined trackage of 501Km.

The current-day Kintetsu Railway is the result of an amalagamae of several different electric interurban railway companies dating back from the turn of the century. The most direct “ancestor” of Kintetsu is considered the Nara Tramway Co. (later the “Osaka Electric Tramway Co.”) wich opened today’s Kintetsu Nara Line, between Osaka and Nara via the Ikoma tunnel in 1910, with more lines being added to the network thruought the 1920s. At the same time, several subsidiaries of the Osaka Electric Tramway Co. started building “complementary” lines, with the Sankyu Railway (and later the Ise Electric Railway) opening lines to the Ise peninsula, and the Yoro Railway opening the Yoro Line.


During the 2nd world war, by order of the Japanese Government, in 1941 all the subsidiaries of the Osaka Electric Tramway Co. were consolidated into the “mother company”, wich was then renamed the “Kansai Kyuko Railway” (or “Kankyu”).

In 1944, also by order of the government, the Nankai Electric Railway was merged into Kankyu, with the company being renamed the “Kinki Nippon Railway” in the same year. After the war, the Nankai Railway split off from Kinki Nippon Railway, returning to be an independent railway.

During the post-war years, Kintetsu began to rebuild it’s network, converting some of it’s 1067mm lines to 1435mm gauge. In 1947, Kintetsu started operating the first limited express reservation-only train for a Japanese private railway, connecting Osaka-Uehonmachi with Kintetsu Nagoya, in direct competition with the obsolescent and inadequate JGR (and soon after JNR) Tokaido Main Line.


As of today, Kintetsu Railway is the main company of the Kintetsu Group, a financial conglomerate that has evolved from the railway itself and now includes also Kintetsu World Express (a mail/parcel freight forwarding company), Kinki Nippon Tourist (one of the world’s largest tourist agencies), Kinki Sharyo (one of Japan’s major rolling stock manufacturers) and the Kintetsu Liners rugby team.

Network-wise, Kintetsu Railway is subdivided in two “main” networks, both fully electrified at 1500v DC via catenary: the 1435mm-gauge one, formed of the Osaka, Nagoya, Nara, Kyoto, Yamada and Shima Lines and relate branchlines (aptly named after their terminuses) and the 1067mm gauge one, formed by the Minami-Osaka Line, the Yoshino Line and related branchlines.

Complementing the two main networks, there are also several smaller “special lines”, such as the Kintetsu Keihanna Line, wich is electrified with a 750v DC third rail (the last non-subway line in Japan to do so) for trough-services with the Chuo Line of the Osaka Municipal subway, and several cable car lines.

Kintetsu also used to own and operate two 762mm-gauge lines, the Utsube and Hachioji Lines, wich were separated from the “mother company” and handed over to the Yokkaichi Asunarou Railway (wich operates as a subsidiary of Kintetsu) in 2015. Similarily, the Yoro and Iga lines were also handed over to subsidiary companies, the Yoro Railway and Iga Railway, both formed in 2007.


Trivia #1

Kintetsu uses a rather complex and intricated classification system for it’s rolling stock: First of all, six-digit series numbers are for limited express rolling stock, four-digit numbers are for commuter trains, three-digit series numbers are for rolling stock of isolated branch lines (such as the former 762mm gauge network) and two-digit numbers are for maintainance or other non-revenue-earning rolling stock.

Then, within a series number the thousands-digit denotes the main “operational area”: 1XXX or 2XXX-series trains are 1435mm-gauge commuter trains intended mainly for the Nagoya and Osaka Lines, 3XXX-series trains are commuter trains intended for trough-services with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line, 5XXX-series trains are “convertible seating” (able to change between longitudinal and cross-seating) for longer distances, known as “L/C” Cars within Kintetsu; 6XXX-series trains are 1067mm-gauge commuter trains for the Minami-Osaka Line and related branchlines, 7XXX-series trains are for the 750v DC third-rail-electrified Keihanna Line and the 8XXX and 9XXX-series trains are 1435mm-gauge commuter trains intended mainly for the Nara, Kyoto and Kashihara Lines and related branches.

The hundreds-digit is to differentiate between different trains within the afromentioned “series ranges”: “base” serieses use even-numbers (000, 200, 400, 600 and 800) and are applied to powered trailer cars (or powered cab cars in case of a 2-car set). Non-powered cab cars use odd numbers, obtained by adding 100 to the base series number for “main line” rolling stock, or subtracting 100 for “branch line” rolling stock.

The tenths-digit denotes design variations over a previous series: medium variations result in the addition of 10 to the base series number and an additional batch is denoted by adding 50 to it’s series number. “Series21”-family rolling stock (built from 2000 onwards) is denoted by adding 20 to it’s series number.

Finally, the unit number denotes light variations over the base series – adding 1 each time the set undergoes some modifications.



Nara Line




Ikoma Line




Kyoto, Kashihara and Tenri Lines

trough-services with the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line