Thursday, 29 November 2012

History Lesson - Japanese National Railways

Japanese National Railways
 (日本国有鉄道 Nihon Kokuyū Tetsudō?), abbreviated Kokutetsu (国鉄?) or "JNR", was the body which operated the national railway network of Japan from 1949 to 1987.

(all this info was gathered from Wikipedia)


As of June 1, 1949, the date of establishment of JNR, it operated 19,756.8 km (12,276.3 mi) of narrow gauge (1,067 mm/3 ft 6 in) railways in all 46 prefectures of Japan (Okinawa, the 47th prefecture, returned to the Japanese administration in 1972 but no JNR line existed in Okinawa). This figure expanded to 21,421.1 km (13,310.5 mi) in 1981 (excluding Shinkansen), but later reduced to 19,633.6 km (12,199.8 mi) as of March 31, 1987, the last day of JNR.
JNR operated both passenger and freight services.
Shinkansen, the world-first high-speed railway was debuted by JNR in 1964. By the end of JNR in 1987, four lines were constructed:
Tōkaidō Shinkansen
515.4 km (320.3 mi), completed in 1964
Sanyō Shinkansen
553.7 km (344.1 mi), completed in 1975
Tōhoku Shinkansen
492.9 km (306.3 mi), as of 1987
Jōetsu Shinkansen
269.5 km (167.5 mi), completed in 1982 


A number of unions represented workers at JNR, including the National Railway Workers' Union (Kokuro), the National Railway Locomotive Engineers' Union (Doro), and Doro-Chiba, a break-away group from doro.


JNR plate seen at the entrance of its headquarters in Tokyo, photo taken circa 1985
The term Kokuyū Tetsudō "state-owned railway" originally referred to a network of railway lines operated by nationalized companies under the control of the Railway Institute following the nationalization in 1906 and 1907. Later, the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications took over control of the network. The ministries used the name Japanese Government Railways (JGR) to refer their network in English. During World War II, many JGR lines were dismantled to supply steel for the war effort.
In 1949, JGR was reorganized into JNR, a state-owned public corporation by a directive of the U.S. General HQ in Tokyo. JNR enjoyed many successes, including the 1964 inauguration of high-speed Shinkansen service. However, JNR was not a state-run corporation; its accounting was independent from the national budget. Rural sections without enough passengers began to press its management, pulling it further and further into debt.[citation needed]
By 1987, JNR's debt was over ¥27 trillion ($280 billion at 2009 exchange rates) and the company was spending ¥147 for every ¥100 earned.  By an act of the Diet of Japan, on April 1, 1987 JNR was privatized and divided into seven (= six passenger and one freight) railroad companies. They have been collectively called the Japan Railways Group (JR Group). Long-term liabilities of JNR were taken over by the JNR Settlement Corporation (disbanded in 1998), and the corporation's remaining debts were transferred to the national budget's general accounting.


  • June 12, 1872: Provisional opening of Tokyo–Yokohama railway (Shinagawa StationYokohama Station)
  • October 1, 1907: Completion of nationalization of 17 private railways under 1906 Railway Nationalization Act
  • June 1, 1949: Japanese National Railways organized
  • October 1, 1964: Inauguration of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen high-speed line
  • April 1, 1987: Privatization of JNR, establishment of seven JR companies
  • October 22, 1998: JNR Settlement Corporation was officially dissolved. All its debts were transferred to the national budget's general accounting. By this time the debt has risen to ¥30 trillion ($310 billion in 2009 dollars). The debt was later incorporated into the national government's general debt.

Accidents and criminal incidents


JNR as a public corporation (from 1949 to 1987) experienced five major accidents (including two shipwrecks of railway ferries) with casualties more than 100:
Sakuragichō train fire
A train fire at Sakuragichō Station in Yokohama on April 24, 1951 killed 106.
Toya Maru disaster
A Seikan ferryboat sank off Hakodate killing 1,155 in a typhoon storm on September 26, 1954.
Shiun Maru disaster
An Ukō ferryboat collided with a fellow boat in a dense fog and sank killing 166 on May 11, 1955.
Mikawashima rail crash
A three-train collision near Mikawashima Station in Tokyo on May 3, 1962 killed 160.
Yokohama rail crash
A three-train collision near Tsurumi Station in Yokohama on November 9, 1963 killed 161.

Criminal incidents

In its very early days as a public corporation, JNR experienced a series of mysterious incidents as follows. Although the police at that time treated them as terrorism by the communists, doubts have been raised as to the validity of this conclusion.
Shimoyama incident
The dismembered body of JNR President Sadanori Shimoyama was found on a railway track on July 5, 1949. (The possibility of non-criminal suicide has not been ruled out.)
Mitaka incident
A train running without crew crashed into passengers and killed six people on July 15, 1949.
Matsukawa incident
A train was derailed because of destroyed track and three crew were killed on August 17, 1949.
In later years, JNR was a target of radical leftists. On October 21, 1968, groups of extremist students celebrating "International Antiwar Day" occupied and vandalized Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.[4][5] They criticized JNR's collaboration in the Vietnam War by operating freight trains carrying jet fuel for U.S. military use. On November 29, 1985, militants supporting a radical sect of JNR's labor union objecting to the privatization of JNR damaged signal cables at 33 points around Tokyo and Osaka to halt thousands of commuter trains and then set fire to Asakusabashi Station in Tokyo.
As such, the relationship with labor unions was always a difficult problem for JNR. Since public workers were prohibited to strike, they carried out "work-to-rule protests" that caused trains to be delayed. On March 13, 1973, train delays caused by such protests resulted in a riot of angered passengers at Ageo Station in Saitama Prefecture (Ageo incident). From November 26, 1975 to December 3, 1975, major labor unions of JNR conducted an eight-day-long illegal "strike for the right to strike", which resulted in a total defeat of the unions.


When privatization of JNR was proposed in the mid 1980s, JNR unions were strongly opposed and campaigned against it. The campaign was unsuccessful and JNR was privatized in 1987, and replaced by the Japan Railways Group (JR Group).
Lists of workers to be employed by the new organizations were drawn up by JNR and given to the JR companies. There was substantial pressure on union members to leave their unions, and within a year, the membership of the National Railway Workers' Union (Kokuro) fell from 200,000 to 44,000. Workers who had supported the privatization, or those who left Kokuro, were hired at substantially higher rates than Kokuro members.

History Lesson - Japan Railways Group

Japan Railways Group

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Japan Railways Group is located in Japan
JR logo (hokkaido).svg
JR logo (central).svg
JR logo (shikoku).svg
JR logo (west).svg
JR logo (kyushu).svg
JR logo (east).svg
JR group's main offices and branch offices
Lightgreen pog.svg JR logo (hokkaido).svg Hokkaido Green pog.svg JR logo (east).svg East Orange pog.svg JR logo (central).svg Central Blue pog.svg JR logo (west).svg West
Turquoise pog.svg JR logo (shikoku).svg Shikoku Red pog.svg JR logo (kyushu).svg Kyushu
(JR Freight, JRTT, JR System are omitted)
The Japan Railways Group, more commonly known as JR Group (JRグループ Jeiāru Gurūpu?), consists of seven for-profit companies that took over most of the assets and operations of the government-owned Japanese National Railways on April 1, 1987. Most of the liability of the JNR was assumed by the JNR Settlement Corporation.
The JR Group lies at the heart of Japan's railway network, operating a large proportion of intercity rail service (including the Shinkansen high-speed rail lines) and commuter rail service. A strong distinction is still made between JR and other private railway companies; for instance, the two are generally denoted differently on maps.




The group consists of seven operating companies and two other companies that do not provide rail service. The operating companies are organized into six passenger operators and a nationwide freight operator. Unlike some other groups of companies, the JR Group is made up of independent companies, and it does not have group headquarters or a holding company to set the overall business policy.
The six passenger railways of the JR Group are separated by region. Nearly all their services are within the prescribed geographic area. However, some long-distance operations extend beyond the boundaries. The Shirasagi train service between Nagoya and Toyama, for instance, uses JR West rolling stock but the segment of track between Nagoya and Maibara is owned by JR Central, whose crew manage the train on that section.
Japan Freight Railway Company operates all freight service on the network previously owned by JNR.
In addition, the group includes two non-operating companies. These are the Railway Technical Research Institute and Railway Information Systems Co., Ltd.
To cover various non-railway business areas, each regional operator in the JR Group has its own group of subsidiary companies with names like "JR East Group" and "JR Shikoku Group."
BusinessCompanyLogo / Symbol colorStockRegions of operationNote
PassengerHokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido)JR logo (hokkaido).svg Light greenNot listedHokkaidooperates Kaikyō Line in Tohoku
East Japan Railway Company (JR East)JR logo (east).svg GreenTYO: 9020Tōhoku, Kantō, Kōshin'etsu
Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central)JR logo (central).svg OrangeTYO: 9022Tōkaioperates Tōkaidō Shinkansen in Kantō and Kansai
West Japan Railway Company (JR West)JR logo (west).svg BlueTYO: 9021Hokuriku, Kansai, Chūgokuoperates Sanyō Shinkansen in Kyushu
Shikoku Railway Company (JR Shikoku)JR logo (shikoku).svg Light blueNot listedShikoku
Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyūshū)JR logo (kyushu).svg RedNot listedKyushu
FreightJapan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight)JR logo (freight).svg GreyNot listedNationwide
Research organizationRailway Technical Research Institute (RTRI)JR logo RTRI.svg Light purpleNot listed
IT ServicesRailway Information Systems (JR System)JR logo systems.svg Dark redNot listed


JR Group service regions
JR maintains a nation-wide railway network as well as common ticketing rules that it inherited from JNR. Passengers may travel across several JR companies without changing trains and without purchasing separate tickets. However, trains running across the boundaries of JR companies have been reduced.
JR maintains the same ticketing rules based on the JNR rules and has an integrated reservation system known as MARS. Some types of tickets (passes), such as Japan Rail Pass and Seishun 18 Ticket, are issued as "valid for all JR lines" and accepted by all passenger JR companies.


In 1987, the government of Japan took steps to divide and privatize JNR. While division of operations began in April of that year, privatization was not immediate: initially, the government retained ownership of the companies. Privatization of some of the companies began in the early 1990s. By 2006, all of the shares of JR East, JR Central and JR West had been offered to the market and they are now publicly traded. On the other hand, all of the shares of JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku, JR Kyushu and JR Freight are still owned by Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, an independent administrative institution of the state.


The demise of the government-owned system came after charges of serious management inefficiencies, profit losses, and fraud. By the early 1980s, passenger and freight business had declined, and fare increases had failed to keep up with higher labor costs.
What remained of the debt-ridden Japanese National Railways after its 1987 breakup was named the Japanese National Railways Settlement Corporation. Its purpose was to dispose of assets and debts not absorbed by the successor companies and to execute other activities relating to the breakup, such as outplacement of former personnel.
The new companies introduced competition, cut their staffing, and made reform efforts. Initial public reaction to these moves was good: the combined passenger travel on the Japan Railways Group passenger companies in 1987 was 204.7 billion passenger-kilometers, up 3.2% from 1986, while the passenger sector previously had been stagnant since 1975. The growth in passenger transport of private railways in 1987 was 2.6%, which meant that the Japan Railways Group's rate of increase was above that of the private-sector railroads for the first time since 1974. Demand for rail transport improved, although it still accounted for only 28% of passenger transportation and only 5% of cargo transportation in 1990. Rail passenger transportation was superior to automobiles in terms of energy efficiency and of speed in long distance transportation.
The six companies had 18,800 km (11,700 mi) of routes (mostly 1,067 mm/3 ft 6 in gauge) in use in the late 1980s. About 25% of the routes were in double-track and multitrack sections, and the rest were single-track. In 1988 about 51% of the six companies' 1,000 locomotives were diesel, and the rest were electric.
Japan Freight Railway Company owns its locomotives (295 diesel and 569 electric locomotives in 1988), rolling stock and stations, but hires track from the six passenger companies. It runs fewer trains on less track than Japanese National Railways freight service did before its demise, but at increased revenues and higher productivity.
The Shinkansen Property Corporation (新幹線保有機構 Shinkansen Hoyū Kikō?) leased Shinkansen railway facilities, including 2,100 km (1,300 mi) of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge high-speed track, to the passenger companies on Honshū. In 1991, the SPC was reorganized into the Railway Development Fund (鉄道整備基金 Tetsudō Seibi Kikin?) and the three operators bought their lines on 60-year loans.[1] Some of the Shinkansen electric-powered trains operate at speeds up to 300 km/h.
Another nearly 3,400 km (2,100 mi) of routes are operated by major private railways and by what are known in Japan as third sector railroads—new companies, financed with private and local government funds—which absorbed some of Japanese National Railways' rural lines. There were twenty-seven private and third-sector companies in 1989.


Various unions represent workers at the different JR Group companies, such as the National Railway Workers' Union, All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers' Union, Doro-Chiba, and the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers' Unions.