The Ohmi Railway was formed in 1896 to provide railway services to the rural areas not yet served by the JGR Tokaido Main Line. The first section of what would become the Main Line opened in 1898, with additional parts of the network being opened between 1900 and 1914, the year the Taga Line branch began operations. The network was electrified at 600v DC in 1924 and in 1926 the company became a subsidiary of the Ujigawa Electric power company (one of the predecessors of today’s KEPCO – Kansai Electric Power Co.). In 1931 the Main Line was finally completed, extending from Maibara to Hikone. During the war, in 1943, the company changed ownership, becoming a subsidiary of Seibu Railway. One year later, in 1944, the Yokaichi Railway was absorbed by Ohmi Railway, with the rolling stock and trackage of the former being inherited by the latter as it’s “Yokaichi Line”.
After the war, the railway entered a phase of decline, being forced to cut back some of it’s lines and abolish it’s freight services, wich were ceased in 1988. Further attempts to reduce operating expenses were made (including the ill-fated introduction of diesel railbusses for off-peak services on an otherwise fully-electrified network), but substantial improvments couldn’t be made.
Depsite the recent improvement of the company’s financial situation, Ohmi Railway is still struggling, having ran at a loss since 1994. Proposals to close the railway altogheter were put forward by the company quite recently, with a meeting between company officials, and representatives from the five cities and town along the line was held, wich luckily resulted in the definitive decision, in May 2020, to keep the line open depsite the decifit.
Ohmi Railway is still a subsidiary of Seibu Railway, wich has been helping the company in various ways, trough monetary subsidies and assistance. In particular, due to it’s status as part of the Seibu Group, Ohmi Railway is able to purchase second-hand rolling stock withdrawn from Seibu Railway at reduced prices, thus it’s not surprising that Ohmi Railway has been operating an entirely ex-Seibu fleet of trains since the 1980s.
Ohmi Railway is one of only three railway companies whose name has remained unchanged since their establishment in the Meiji Era, the other two being Tobu Railway (the only major private railway company on the list) and Shimbara Railway.
Electric Multiple Units