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a major Japanese public transport artery.
Runs from Otsuki to Yotsuya, in and near the Tokyo area (maybe further - I cant tell from my map), in the surface train capacity.

Most famous for its "peak hour" (read: sardines in a can) congestion, its inappropriately groping salarymen, and its popularity as the train to end it all in front of.
The later, perhaps, because of the frequent express services running along the line.

a colleague of mine once stated that his train (on the Chuo line) was delayed every day for over a week due "unforeseen circumstances" (read: salarymen ending it all).

中央線

The Chûôsen, or "Central Line," is one of the main intercity rail routes in Japan. It starts at Tokyo Station and ascends through the western suburbs of Tokyo, going up into the Japan Alps and then descending again to terminate in Nagoya, a total distance of 413 km (about 260 miles).

Most of the Chuo line was laid down around the turn of the century: the entire line was completed in 1904, although portions of it in the major cities date back as far as the 1870's. When the line first opened, under the private ownership of Kobu Railway, it offered electric trains from Iidabashi to Nakano, the first electric service in Japanese railway history.

Although trains run frequently in both Tokyo and Aichi, the mountainous portion of the Chuo Line is fairly quiet: between Shiojiri* and Nakatsugawa, trains only pass through every two hours or so. It's also important to note that there are no trains that cover the entire line in one trip: to travel the Chuo line, you have to transfer between trains several times. If you use rapid service trains, the entire trip from Tokyo to Nagoya takes about ten hours, compared to six hours on the Tokaido Line and as little as 100 minutes on the Nozomi Shinkansen.

The portions of the line that pass through the mountains offer some absolutely breathtaking views.

There are some faster limited express trains that run on the Chuo line, but they charge premiums over the normal fare. These include the Azusa from Shinjuku to Matsumoto, the Kaiji from Shinjuku to Kofu, and the Shinano from Nagoya to Nagano.

East of Shiojiri (just south of Matsumoto), the Chuo Line is administered by the East Japan Railway. West of Shiojiri, the Central Japan Railway takes over.

Within Tokyo, the line splits: there is a "rapid line," which only stops three times on its way from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station, and there is also a "local line" which stops at six additional stations. On the chart below, the local stations are denoted with parentheses. The line also splits between Okaya and Shiojiri: the shorter branch travels under a mountain, while the longer branch loops around to the south to serve a few more backwater stations.

Incidentally, the Chuo Line in Tokyo is also the most popular suicide spot in Japan, partly because it's one of the only straight surface-level lines in Tokyo, and partly because JR-East charges less cleanup fees to the family of the departed than other lines do.

Tokyo Side

Station        Distance  Transfers                                       
Tokyo                    Marunouchi Line, Shinkansen, Yamanote Line,
                         Keihin Tohoku Line, Tokaido Line, Yokosuka Line,
                         Sobu Line, Keiyo Line
Kanda             1.3    Ginza Line, Yamanote Line, Keihin Tohoku Line
Ochanomizu        2.6    Marunouchi Line, Chiyoda Line, Sobu Line
(Suidobashi)      3.4    Mita Line
(Iidabashi)       4.3    Tozai Line, Yurakucho Line, Namboku Line,
                         Oedo Line
(Ichigaya)        5.8    Yurakucho Line, Namboku Line, Shinjuku Line
Yotsuya           6.6    Marunouchi Line, Namboku Line
(Shinanomachi)    7.9
(Sendagaya)       8.6    Oedo Line
(Yoyogi)          9.6    Oedo Line, Yamanote Line
Shinjuku         10.3    Marunouchi Line, Oedo Line, Shinjuku Line,
                         Keio Railway, Odakyu, Seibu Railway,
                         Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan Shinjuku Line
Nakano           14.7    Tozai Line
Koenji           16.1
Asagaya          17.3
Ogikubo          18.7    Marunouchi Line
Nishi-Ogikubo    20.6
Kichijoji        22.5    Keio Railway   
Mitaka           24.1
Musashi-Sakai    25.7    Seibu Railway   
Higashi-Koganei  27.4
Musashi-Koganei  29.1
Kokubunji        31.4    Seibu Railway
Nishi-Kokubunji  32.8    Musashino Line
Kunitachi        34.5
Tachikawa        37.5    Tama Monorail, Nambu Line, Ome Line
Hino             40.8
Toyoda           43.1
Hachioji         47.4    Yokohama Line, Hachiko Line
Nishi-Hachioji   49.8
Takao            53.1    Keio Railway

KANAGAWA PREFECTURE
Sagamiko         62.6
Fujino           66.3

YAMANASHI PREFECTURE
Uenohara         69.8
Shiotsu          74.0
Yanagawa         77.6
Torisawa         81.2
Saruhashi        85.3
Otsuki           87.8    Fuji Kyuko Railway
Hatsukari        93.9
Sasago          100.4
Kai-Yamato      106.5
Katsunuma-
        Budokyo 112.5 
Enzan           116.9
Higashi-
      Yamanashi 120.1
Yamanashishi    122.2
Kasugaicho      125.0
Isawa Onsen     127.8
Sakaori         131.2
Kofu            134.1    Minobu Line
Ryuo            138.6
Shiozaki        142.7
Nirasaki        147.0
Shimpu          151.2
Anayama         154.7
Hinoharu        160.1
Nagasaka        166.3
Kobuchizawa     173.7    Koumi Line

NAGANO PREFECTURE
Shinano-Sakai   178.2
Fujimi          182.9
Suzuran-no-Sato 186.1
Aoyagi          188.0
Chino           195.2
Kamisuwa        201.9
Shimosuwa       206.3
Okaya           210.4
 Branch 1:
- Midoriko      218.2
 Branch 2:
- Kawagishi     213.9
- Tatsuno       219.9    Iida Line
- Shinano-
      Kawashima 224.2
- Ono           228.2
Shiojiri   222.1 or 238.1  Shinonoi Line

Nagoya Side

Station        Distance  Transfers                                       
Nagoya                   Higashiyama Line, Sakuradori Line, Shinkansen,
                         Meitetsu, Kintetsu, Tokaido Line, Kansai Line
Kanayama          3.3    Meijo Line, Meitetsu, Tokaido Line
Tsurumai          5.6    Tsurumai Line
Chikusa           7.1    Higashiyama Line
Ozone             9.8    Meijo Line, Meitetsu, Yutorito Line
Shin-Moriyama    12.3
Kachigawa        15.0    Tokai Kotsu Jigyo Johoku Line
Kasugai          18.1
Jinryo           20.8
Kozoji           24.0    Aichi Kanjo Railway
Jokoji           28.1

GIFU PREFECTURE
Kokokei          31.6
Tajimi           36.2    Taita Line
Tokishi          43.2
Mizunami         50.1
Kamado           57.5
Takenami         62.9
Ena              68.3    Akechi Railway
Mino-Sakamoto    73.5
Nakatsugawa      79.9
Ochiaigawa       83.7
Sakashita        89.8

NAGANO PREFECTURE
Tadachi          92.6
Nagiso           98.9
Junikane        104.4
Nojiri          108.1
Okuwa           111.1
Suhara          114.4
Kuramoto        119.2 
Agematsu        125.8
Kisofukushima   133.1
Harano          138.6
Miyanokoshi     141.4 
Yabuhara        147.1 
Narai           153.7
Kisohirasawa    155.5
Niekawa         160.7 
Hideshio        165.9
Seba            170.6
Shiojiri        174.8     Shinonoi Line

* As gn0sis kindly pointed out, Shiojiri literally means "salt ass."


Another Chûô line is part of the Osaka City Subway. It first opened in 1961 to connect the Osaka Loop Line to the Port of Osaka (Osakako): it was extended to the Midosuji Line in 1964, to the other side of the loop in 1967, to Fukaebashi in 1968, and to its current length in 1985. Some Chuo Line trains continue past Nagata to the Kintetsu network, going as far as Higashi-Osaka.

On maps, the Chuo Line is the green line (dark, not light; the yellowish-green line is the Nagahori Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line).

Station        Distance  Transfers                                       
Osakako                  OTS Technoport Line
Asashiobashi      1.5    
Bentencho         3.1    Osaka Loop Line
Kujo              4.4
Awaza             5.9    Sennichimae Line
Hommachi          7.0    Midosuji Line, Yotsubashi Line
Sakaisuji-H'machi 7.7    Sakaisuji Line
Tanimachi 4-chome 8.7    Tanimachi Line
Morinomiya       10.0    Nagahori Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line, Osaka Loop Line
Midoribashi      11.2
Fukaebashi       12.3
Takaida          13.7
Nagata           15.5

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