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rogerfarnworth

Understanding Japan's Track and Loading Gauges

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rogerfarnworth
Posted (edited)

I hope this is not too naive a question. Please forgive me if it has been raised already, I have searched a little on the forum and hope that I have begun to understand a little already. If I need pointing to an existing thread, please do send me in the right direction.

 

I understand that there are two different track gauges in Japan and I think that both track gauges use the same loading gauge, so that vehicles can run on both track gauges provide they have the capacity to alter the axle spacing. If I have understood correctly, I have seen discussion on the forum about particular points on the network where suitably equipped vehicles could be converted quickly to run from standard gauge to cape gauge and visa-versa.

 

Does the existence of 1:150 and 1:160 scales for N Gauge have anything to do with the differing 1:1 track gauges?

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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katoftw
Posted (edited)

There are multiple loading guages and multiple track guages across Japan. More than 2 of each.

 

Non of the guage change trains have been long term succesful.

 

You need to be more specific with you questioning if you want a percise answer.

 

What JR uses for their cape guage is the most common. But there are varients across multiple type of rail vehicles and guages across multiple rail companies all over Japan.

Edited by katoftw

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Welshbloke

As I understand it the Shinkansen uses a much larger loading gauge, as well as being standard rather than cape gauge. Hence the 1:160 for Shinkansen models, intended to represent standard gauge but of physically larger prototypes (so they look about the same size as the 1:150 cape gauge models).

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cteno4

The majority of the regular track is cape gauge in japan. The shinkansens are standard gauge.

 

I know there are a number of loading and track gauge permutations, no real over all plan. As Kato mentioned the couple of places where gauge changing trains were proposed to be used have not really panned out. 

 

There are dual gauge tracks in some places, like seikan tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido so both shinkansen and cape gauge trains can both be run, but then you have to restrict speeds of high speed trains when running slow speed trains at the same time due to passing pressures. There is research being done on making standard gauge high speed cars that cape gauge cars could be run into.

 

since shinkansens are standard gauge they are in scale and gauge match if 1/160 on n gauge track. Rest of the cape gauge was a tweak to do at 1/150 to make n gauge track look closer to what cape gauge should. since shinkansen and regular trains are not in situations right next to each other you never really see them side by side to potentially notice.one of those modeling trade offs. Would have been closer to use 1/160 and then z gauge track for cape gauges but that requires making all the cape gauge stuff have zgauge wheel spacing. Some out there do this to their trains, converting them to z gauge!

 

jeff

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bill937ca
Posted (edited)

Here are the railway regulations from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation. It is extremely detailed with loading gauge diagrams.

 

Technical Regulatory Standards on Japanese Railways

 

http://www.mlit.go.jp/english/2006/h_railway_bureau/Laws_concerning/14.pdf

 

Structure gauge ordinary railway page 369 (scanned document page number) 1067mm gauge

 

The diagram defines numerous standards:

 

basic structure gauge

. ―・-・-・- structure gauge for the contact line, its tension devise and others excluding insulated stiffeners of the railway fed with direct current through the overhead contact line.

-・・-・・- structure gauge for the contact line, its tension devise and others excluding insulated stiffeners of the railway fed with direct current through the overhead contact line, if necessary in way of tunnel, bridge, overbridge, snowshed, platform-building and in their vicinity.

―――x――― structure gauge for the contact line, its tension devise and others excluding insulated stiffeners of the railway fed with alternate current through the overhead contact line.

―――xx――― structure gauge for the contact line, its tension devise and others excluding insulated stiffeners of the railway fed with alternate current through the overhead contact line, if necessary in way of tunnel, bridge, overbridge, snowshed, platform-building and in their vicinity.

● ● structure gauge for signal, indicator and sign device, as well as for special tunnel and bridge.

○ ○ structure gauge for run-over type turnout

+++++++ structure gauge for the fuel and water stations and the signal post on the main and side tracks, and for the turn table, the weighing station, the washing station, the entrance and inside facility of car shed, and the pillars of cargo handling shed on the side tracks, where only freight train is operated.

 

 

Structure gauge super express railway (excluding magnetic levitation railways)  page 373 (scanned document page number) 1435mm guage

 

Structure gauge for magnetic levitation railways page 375

 

Rolling stock gauge for ordinary railways page 376

 

 

Edited by bill937ca

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EdF

One easy way to think of the difference between Shinkansen and inter urban is that the former can seat 3+2 and the latter 2+2.

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katoftw

Except lots of shinkansens are 2+2 also. Especially the narrower mini shinkansens. So no not a goodway to judge.

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marknewton

Chapter 6 of the book “A History Of Japanese Railways 1872-1999” discusses the various proposals to convert the 1067mm gauge network to standard gauge. In 1887 the military proposed conversion to standard gauge for more efficient transport. But in 1898 they changed their position, and instead demanded nationalisation. After nationalisation in 1905/06 the railway ministry proposed conversion, and the 1911 budget included funding for conversion, but the opposition voted against the bill. The opposition party won government in 1919, and they rejected any further proposals or planning for conversion to standard gauge.

 

The debate did lead to the adoption of technical standards equivalent to standard gauge, such as structure gauge, loading gauge, track centres and bridge specifications. New rolling stock axle standards used standard gauge axle and bolster dimensions to eliminate the need for replacement if ever converted to standard gauge.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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EdF
38 minutes ago, katoftw said:

Except lots of shinkansens are 2+2 also. Especially the narrower mini shinkansens. So no not a goodway to judge.

Yeah, they essentially have interurban loading gauge on standard gauge track.

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Kamome
7 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Would have been closer to use 1/160 and then z gauge track for cape gauges but that requires making all the cape gauge stuff have zgauge wheel spacing. Some out there do this to their trains, converting them to z gauge!

Saw a few layouts like this at JAM in Tokyo and a few small businesses that make wheel sets for this modification although more for the 1:80 HO market whereby 16mm track is also too wide. It does look more protypical but I think the code 80 rail on unitrack along with the 1:150 scale gives a reasonable impression of the narrower gauge.

 

A very interesting subject and one I need to read up on more. I was under the impression that it was a decision due to costs and possibly terrain challenges with 1067mm gauge being adopted in other Asian and Oceanic countries at a similar time.

 

I know they had been testing a dual gauge bullet train to run to Nagasaki, supposedly for a 2022 launch. Although I read that running costs for this rolling stock would cost considerably more than conventional shinkansen lines, estimated at 3 times the cost due to constant maintenance of the adjustable axles. Now the project has been abandoned. 

 

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marknewton
Posted (edited)

Currently there are 5 track gauges in common use in Japan. The most common gauge is 1067mm/3'6", which forms the bulk of the JR Group network and connecting private railways. 

 

610mm - Tateyama Sabo railway in Toyama prefecture. I think this would be the last non-museum/preserved line using 610mm gauge, which was once common for local and industrial railway operations, known as "keiben", throughout Japan.

 

762mm - The three former Kintetsu lines in Mie prefecture, now operated by Sangi Railway and the Yokkaichi Railway, and the Kurobe Gorge railway. This gauge was also once very commonly used by keiben lines throughout Japan, but in many cases the lines were converted to 1067mm gauge and electrified as traffic increased, such as Kintetsu's Yunoyama line. The famous Kiso Forest Railway was 762mm gauge.

 

1067mm - JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Tokai, JR West, JR Shikoku, JR Kyushu, all JR Freight operations on these lines, and many private railways and tramway, big and small. The reasons for choosing 3'6" gauge for the original Tokyo-Yokohama line in 1872 are not apparent these days, but that choice greatly influenced subsequent government and private railway construction.

 

1372mm - Toei Shinjuku line, Tokyu Setagaya line, Toden Arakawa line, Keio Teito Corporation lines, and the Hakodate city tramway. The once-huge Tokyo municipal tramway sytem was built to this gauge, plus some private railways and tramway in the Tokyo area. Some of these lines have been re-gauged twice, going from 1067mm to 1372mm, then 1372mm to 1435mm!

 

1435mm - Shin Keisei railway, Hokuso Railway, Keihin Express Railway, Keisei Electric Railway, Eidan Ginza and Marunouchi lines, Toei Asakusa line, Yokohama metro, Hakone Tozan Railway, Nagoya metro, Kinki Nippon Railway/Kintetsu main lines, Keifuku Electric Railway, Eizan Electric Railway, Keihan Electric Railway, Kyoto metro, Osaka metro, Hankai Electric Tramway, Hankyu Electric Railway, Nose Electric Railway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kobe metro, San-Yo Electric Railway, Hiroshima Electric Railway, Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railway, Chikuho Electric Railway, Nishi Nippon Railway main lines, Nagasaki Electric Tramway, Kumamoto city tramway, Kagoshima city tramway, and of course the JR Shinkansen network. So there's more standard gauge trackage in Japan than you might think at first.

 

Historically there were a number of other gauges used. There were once a number of man-powered tramways, known as "jinsha kido", some of which used 737mm gauge. Kaimaishi Iron Works and the Hankai Railway used 838mm. In northern Kyushu there were a number of local lines that used 914mm/3' gauge. In total there have been 16 different track gauges used in Japan in the railway era. I've not gone into the various monorails and guideway lines there, as I'm not sure how you'd even measure their gauges!

 

All the best

 

Mark.

 

 

Edited by marknewton
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Space Beaver
Posted (edited)

762mm was informally the standard gauge for Okinawa's railways until all rail infrastructure on the island was destroyed by American bombardment in 1945. Okinawa was then the only major island to have no railways until a monorail line was opened in (I think) 2013.

 

As for loading gauge, it can vary a lot even on the same network. For instance, JRF container trains carrying ISO containers are not able to use many of the older main lines.

Edited by Space Beaver

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rogerfarnworth
Posted (edited)

I really appreciate all the responses here. I had no idea that things were as complex as this. Particular thanks to Mark Newton for pulling together all the lists of the different gauges.

 

I presume that the majority of these lines were in private ownership before any nationalisation took place.

 

Was there an amalgamation of companies prior to nationalisation (as in the 1920s in the UK)?

Edited by rogerfarnworth
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Space Beaver

More or less the opposite to the UK situation regarding ownership.

 

The first railway was built under the direct control of the Emperor with many key personnel directly employed by the Emperor himself.

 

Early railway construction was tightly controlled by the government with an overall strategy of connecting all regions and major cities together, not just for economic benefit and millitary mobility but to tie all Japan politically and ideologically together as one under the Emperor.

 

Later liberalization of business laws allowed private companies to build railways, but these were built piecemeal in response to local needs and considered by the government to be only accessories to the national railway.

 

Only the national railway has ever possessed long distance main lines linking the various parts of Japan, with overnight sleeper expresses and the like.

 

Private railways are mostly regional networks centred on a specific city, group of towns or industrial zone, and practically none are more than a couple of hundred kilometres long (in terms of a single route or main line, many are dense commuter networks with a huge collective mileage), while many are tiny operations with a single shortish line and a few second hand trains.

 

Over time, the private railways became

very serious competition for the national railway on commuter and regional routes but the national railway always had a monopoly on long distance.

 

The national railway continued under various names and management styles until broken up into seven private companies in the 1980s due to very serious financial issues. Six regional passenger companies and one nationwide freight company. The long distance main lines are now split ownership wise and operationally across the six companies.

 

Shinkansen lines were all part of the national railway too, but since privatization have been shared between the passenger companies on an arrangement I do not understand at all. Despite being private sector in principle, every Shinkansen line except the Tokaido is unprofitable and recieves a guranteed subsidy from the government.

 

Until recently unprofitable conventional railways received no government support. However new laws encourage unprofitable lines to become not for profit third sector organisations supported by the local authority as a public service.

 

Unlike the UK, the train owner, train operator and infrastructure owner are almost always the same company on todays railways. There are two exceptions:

 

Adjoining passenger railways with compatible gauge, electrification and signalling often operate through running regional trains. There are even through trains between conventional, underground and overhead railways, going into and under a city centre and up and out the other side!

 

Japan Railfreight, the only long distance rail cargo company, owns no track except freight yards and a few small freight diversions and branches. It relies on running powers over the other six national companies in order to use the old national network. Private railways only act as freight branches off the national network, or transport minerals and industrial products over short distances between facilities.

 

One more thing to note is that practically every railway company is highly diversified and owns all sorts of enterprises in the area it serves. Railways build the suburbs their passengers live in, and the malls they shop in. In this way they protect their income and future and ensure that all the non-railway companies want to set up shop next to the station.

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rogerfarnworth

It all seems to be very complicated. No doubt the British system would seem similarly complicated to someone from outside.

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railsquid
22 hours ago, katoftw said:

Except lots of shinkansens are 2+2 also. Especially the narrower mini shinkansens. So no not a goodway to judge.

 

And some Shinkansen are even 3+3 😉

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rogerfarnworth
On 1/4/2019 at 11:33 AM, marknewton said:

762mm - The three former Kintetsu lines in Mie prefecture, now operated by Sangi Railway and the Yokkaichi Railway, and the Kurobe Gorge railway. This gauge was also once very commonly used by keiben lines throughout Japan, but in many cases the lines were converted to 1067mm gauge and electrified as traffic increased, such as Kintetsu's Yunoyama line. The famous Kiso Forest Railway was 762mm gauge.

 

Hello MarkNewton,

 

I have started looking at the railway lines to which you have referred. I thought that I would start with the 762mm lines. 

 

I have found a wikipedia link to the Kurobe Gorge Railway

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurobe_Gorge_Railway

 

and also to the Kiso Forest Railway

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiso_Forest_Railway

 

but I have been struggling to identify the lines in/at Kintetsu, is this one of them?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokkaichi_Asunarou_Railway_Utsube_Line

 

Best wishes

 

Roger

 

 

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bill937ca
4 hours ago, rogerfarnworth said:

but I have been struggling to identify the lines in/at Kintetsu, is this one of them?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokkaichi_Asunarou_Railway_Utsube_Line

 

Kinetetsu no longer operates either of its 762mm lines.  The Sangi Railway opeattes the Hokusei line and the Yokkaichi Asunarou is a third sector railway.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_ft_6_in_gauge_railways_in_Japan

 

There is a separate thread with videos of the Kurobe Gorge Railway

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marknewton
Posted (edited)

Yes, Roger, that's one of the former Kintetstu lines. The line to Nishihino used to continue to Ise-Hachioji, but was damaged by flooding and the line was cut back to its current terminus.

 

The backstory of these 762mm gauge lines is complex, as they were all originally independent steam tramways that were later electrified, and in the case of the Yunoyama line, regauged. The'yre the reason I became interested in Japanese railways in the first place. When I get home I'll post some links to some Japanese language websites that have historic photos of these lines.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

Edited by marknewton
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marknewton
Posted (edited)

These websites show the line to Ise-Hachioji pre-1974, plus some modern views for comparison. As you can see the line was very photogenic. It was also interesting operationally, with MU cars hauling trailers, and locos hauling passengers as well as freight.

 

https://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/hideki_kobayakawa/folder/1793496.html

 

https://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/hideki_kobayakawa/folder/1793496.html?m=lc&p=2

 

http://tsushima-keibendo.a.la9.jp/kintetsu/utsube1.html

 

http://tsushima-keibendo.a.la9.jp/kintetsu/utsube2.html

 

http://tsushima-keibendo.a.la9.jp/kintetsu/utsube3.html

 

All the best,

 

 Mark.

 

Edited by marknewton
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rogerfarnworth

Thank you, Mark.

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ben_issacs

Folks

When the railway first came to Japan, the 3'-6" (1067mm) gauge was the only gauge allowed to be used, but I think in 1888, official permission was given to build lines to smaller gauges than the 3'-6".

The first company to do so was the Iyo Rly in Matsuyama, Shikoku, they built to 762mm (2'-6") gauge.using little 0-4-0 well tank engines provided by Herren Orenstein und Koppel, and Herr Krauss.

The Iyo Co's system was both a city tramway and a couple of local lines

Soon, other companies built similar narrow gauge lines, sometimes steam worked, sometimes horse.

Most of their locos and rolling stock came from the German companies.

After a while the Iyo Company converted their 2'-6" lines to 3'-6, re-gauging the steam locos and rolling stock to the wider gauge.

Outside the Iyo company's head office, adjacent to their Matsuyama Shi station, is what is said to be the original No.1 0-4-0 well tank, in dark green livery with much lining, and much polished brass and copper piping and decorations.

This loco sits on the footpath, without any protective fence, and without any graffiti!

In a park on the outskirts of the city is another similar loco, which also claims to be No.1.

So, you pays your money and you takes your choice!

Which is right, it doesn't matter, it's great to see these historic engines lovingly restored.

Both are, I think, back to their original 762 mm gauge.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

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marknewton

Bill, where did you hear about “official permission” being given in 1888 to build railways of less than 3’6” gauge? I ask because I have three reliable English language publications that discuss that period in detail, but none mention any legislative or regulatory changes of that nature. Also, Kamaishi Ironworks in Iwate opened a 2’9”/838mm gauge line in 1880. And the Hankai Railway in Osaka opened their 2’9” gauge line in 1885.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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ben_issacs

Mark,

Thanks for your comment. 

I'd picked up  this date somewhere early on, but cant remember the source.

Will have to look through my stuff.

Would an ironworks railway be subject to Govt. approval?

Regards, 

Bill.

 

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