Kamaishi Line

The Kamaishi Line (釜石線, Kamaishi-sen) is a 90.2 km (56.0 mi) rural railway line in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It connects Hanamaki Station in the city of Hanamaki with Kamaishi Station in the city of Kamaishi.

Kamaishi Line
A Kamaishi Line train running alongside Route 283
TypeRegional rail
LocaleIwate Prefecture, Japan
Operator(s) JR East
Line length90.2 km (56.0 mi)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Route map


All stations are in Iwate Prefecture.

Name Distance (km) Rapid
Connections Location
Hanamaki 花巻 0.0 Tōhoku Main Line Hanamaki
Nitanai 似内 3.5  
Shin-Hanamaki 新花巻 6.4 Tōhoku Shinkansen
Oyamada 小山田 8.3  
Tsuchizawa 土沢 12.7   Tono
Haruyama 晴山 15.9  
Iwanebashi 岩根橋 21.7  
Miyamori 宮守 25.1  
Kashiwagidaira 柏木平 31.2  
Masuzawa 鱒沢 33.6  
Arayamae 荒谷前 36.4  
Iwate-Futsukamachi 岩手二日町 39.3  
Ayaori 綾織 41.1  
Tōno 遠野 46.0  
Aozasa 青笹 50.3  
Iwate-Kamigō 岩手上郷 53.8  
Hirakura 平倉 56.6  
Ashigase 足ヶ瀬 61.2  
Kami-Arisu 上有住 65.4   Sumita, Kesen District
Rikuchū-Ōhashi 陸中大橋 73.7   Kamaishi
Dōsen 洞泉 79.6  
Matsukura 松倉 83.2  
Kosano 小佐野 86.5  
Kamaishi 釜石 90.2 Yamada Line
Sanriku Railway Rias Line

Closed stations

  • Yasawa Station (矢沢駅), between Nitanai and Oyamada, 2.5 km east of Nitanai, opened 25 October 1913, closed 14 March 1985 when the nearby Shin-Hanamaki Station opened.[1]

Rolling stock

Kamaishi Line services are operated using KiHa 110 series diesel trains.

From 12 April 2014, a newly formed SL Ginga "Joyful Train" (excursion train) began operating on the line at weekends using the restored JNR Class C58 steam locomotive C58 239 together with a train of four modified former KiHa 141 series diesel cars purchased from JR Hokkaido (themselves rebuilt from earlier 50 series passenger coaches and made surplus to requirements following the electrification of the Sasshō Line).[2][3][4] The diesel cars provide additional power to cope with the line's gradients.[3] The coach design work was overseen by industrial designer Ken Okuyama.[3]

Former rolling stock

Following the full opening of the line in 1950, passenger and freight services on the line were hauled by JNR Class D50 2-8-2 steam locomotives, necessary to negotiate the steep gradients on the line of up 25 .[5] A couple of JNR Class 8620 steam locomotives were also used for shunting at Kamaishi Station. JNR Class C58 2-6-2 steam locomotives were also used on both passenger and freight services running to and from the Yamada Line. Six JNR Class D51 2-8-2 steam locomotives were subsequently transferred to the line, displacing some of the earlier D50s, but steam haulage on the line was entirely replaced by diesel haulage from March 1967.[5]


The precursor to the line opened in 1915 as the Iwate Light Railway (岩手軽便鉄道), a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) light railway extending 65.4 km from Hanamaki to Sennintōge Station (仙人峠).[5] The original plan was to link with Kamaishi Mine and Kamaishi Port, but at an altitude of 887m, the mountain pass at Sennintōge prevented immediate expansion eastward to Kamaishi. A ropeway conveyor was used to convey goods onward to Ōhashi, from where a 16 km 762mm (2'6") gauge mining railway (which operated between 1915 and 1965) provided the service to Kamaishi.[5]

The railway was nationalized in August 1936, and the line became the "Kamaishi Line". Motive power for the line was provided by six JNR Class 231 steam locomotives, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in the USA, and numbered 231 to 236.[5] Work started on upgrading and re-gauging the line, and the first section, the 31.2 km from Hanamaki to Kashiwagidaira was regauged to the standard Japanese track gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) and re-opened from September 1943. The mining railway between Rikuchū-Ōhashi and Kamaishi was also upgraded to 1,067 mm gauge by October 1944 to meet the urgent need for increased capacity to transport iron ore during the war period, and was named the Kamaishi East Line (釜石東線, Kamaishi-Higashi-sen). The entire 90.2 km line was finally completed between Hanamaki and Kamaishi in June 1950, opening to traffic on 10 October of that year.


  1. 日本国有鉄道停車場一覧 [JNR Station Directory]. Japan: Japanese National Railways. 1985. p. 555. ISBN 4-533-00503-9.
  2. 東北で復活するSLによる新しい列車「SL銀河」 [New "SL Ginga" train using restored steam locomotive in Tohoku] (PDF). News release (in Japanese). Japan: East Japan Railway Company. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  3. "JR東日本,C58 239を復元" [JR East to restore C58 239]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  4. ""SL銀河"が営業運転を開始" ["SL Ginga" enters revenue service]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  5. Miyata, Hiroyuki (June 2014). 釜石線ショートヒストリー ~路線と蒸気機関車~ [A short history of the Kamaishi Line: The line and steam locomotives]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 54 no. 638. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. pp. 24–25.
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