The following is information i have collected from different webpages and put in one place. I will do abit on each group and Private Railway in later posts.
Rail transport in Japan is a major means of passenger transport, especially for mass and high-speed travel between major cities and for commuter transport in metropolitan areas.
Six Japan Railways Group (JR) companies, state owned until 1987, provide passenger service to most parts of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu; the seventh JR company carries freight. Many private rail companies rank among the top corporations in the country. Regional governments, and companies funded jointly by regional governments and private companies, also provide rail service.
There are 27,268 km of rail crisscrossing the country. JR (a group of companies formed after privatization of JNR) controlled 20,135 km of these lines as of March 31, 1996, with the remaining 7,133 km in the hands of private enterprise local railway companies. Japan's railways carried 22.24 billion passengers (395.9 billion passenger-kilometres) in fiscal 2006. In comparison, Germany has over 40,000 km of railways, but carries only 2.2 billion passengers per year.
Fukuoka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo and Yokohama have subway systems. However, unlike Europe, the vast majority of passenger traffic is on suburban commuter trains that criss-cross metropolitan areas. In addition, many cities have streetcar and monorail networks.
Japan pioneered the high-speed "bullet train" or "shinkansen", which now links Japan's largest cities at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph). However, other trains running on the conventional line or "zairaisen" remain relatively slow, operating at fastest 160 km/h and mostly under 130 km/h.
Japan's railways carried 51.9 million tons (23.2 billion tonne-kilometres) of goods in fiscal 2006. The share of railways in the national logistics is as small as 0.84% (2005).
Railroads were long the most important means of passenger and freight transportation in Japan, ever since they were established in the late nineteenth century. Government policy promoted railways due to lack of fossil fuels and nearly complete dependence on imports. Rural land near large cities was acquired cheaply by private railways companies as early as the late nineteenth century, and then became the backbone for urban transport, suburban cities formed around train stations radiating out from metropolitan areas, similar to suburban growth around highways in other nations. Despite this planning, growing affluence made road transportation usage rival rail since the 1960s. The relative share of railroads in total passenger kilometers fell from 66.7 percent in 1965 to 42 percent in 1978, and to 29.8 percent in 1990. By contrast, automobiles and domestic airlines were carrying ever-larger shares of the passenger traffic in 1990, however railways still accounted for the largest percentage by far in the OECD. However, in the largest metropolitan areas in Japan: Tokyo (including Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefectures), Osaka (including Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyōgo Prefectures), and Nagoya, railroad passenger share is much higher at 43.5% [as of 2001]. Private automobiles in Greater Tokyo still account for less than 20% of daily trips as walking, bicycling and buses remain extremely popular as well.
- 1872 - Opening of Japan's first railway between Shimbashi (Tokyo) and Yokohama
- 1881 - Foundation of Nippon Railway, Japan's first private railway company
- 1882 - Opening of Horonai Railway, first railway in Hokkaido
- 1888 - Opening of Iyo Railway, first railway in Shikoku
- 1889 - Opening of Kyushu Railway, first railway in Kyushu
- 1889 - Completion of the Tōkaidō Main Line
- 1893 - Class 860 steam locomotive, first locomotive built in Japan
- 1895 - Opening of Japan's first streetcar in Kyoto
- 1895 - Japan's acquisition of railway in Taiwan
- 1899 - Opening of Keijin Railway, first railway in Korea
- 1906 - Opening of first railway in Karafuto
- 1906 - Foundation of South Manchuria Railway
- 1906-1907 - Nationalization of 17 private railways
- 1914 - Opening of Tokyo Station
- 1925 - Inauguration of the Yamanote Line
- 1927 - Opening of Tokyo subway, the first subway in the East
- 1942 - Opening of Kanmon Tunnel connecting Honshu and Kyushu
- 1945 - End of World War II; railways were severely damaged
- 1949 - Foundation of Japanese National Railways as public corporation
- 1956 - Completion of electrification of the Tōkaidō Main Line
- 1958 - Kodama, the first EMU express between Tokyo and Osaka
- 1960 - Hatsukari, the first DMU express between Ueno (Tokyo) and Aomori
- 1964 - Opening of the first Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka
- 1975 - Retirement of steam locomotives from all JNR services (switchers remained until 1976)
- 1980 - Enactment of JNR Reconstruction Act; low-profit lines were to be abandoned
- 1987 - Privatization of the JNR; the Japan Railways Group companies succeeded the former JNR.
- 1988 - Opening of Seikan Tunnel connecting Honshu and Hokkaido
- 1988 - Opening of Great Seto Bridge connecting Honshu and Shikoku
Types of Operators
The Japan Railways Group, more commonly known as JR Group, is a group of successors of the government-owned Japanese National Railways (JNR). The JR Group lies at the heart of Japan's railway network, operating almost all intercity rail service and a large proportion of commuter rail service.
The six passenger operating companies of the JR Group are separated by region, but many operate long-distance train service beyond their regional boundaries. The six companies are: Hokkaido Railway Company, East Japan Railway Company, Central Japan Railway Company, West Japan Railway Company, Shikoku Railway Company, and Kyushu Railway Company.
Freight service belongs to Japan Freight Railway Company or JR Freight which operates all freight network previously owned by JNR.
Major Private Railways
The following 16 companies are classified as the major private railways and are operating 2,870.1 kilometers of railways. In one year period from April 2009, a total of 9.46 billion passengers (118 billion passenger kilometers) traveled on these major railways.
- Tobu Railway
- Seibu Railway
- Keisei Electric Railway
- Keio Corporation
- Odakyu Electric Railway
- Tokyu Corporation
- Keikyu Corporation
- Tokyo Metro
- Sagami Railway
- Nagoya Railroad
- Kintetsu Corporation
- Nankai Electric Railway
- Keihan Electric Railway
- Hankyu Corporation
- Hanshin Electric Railway
- Nishi-Nippon Railroad