Kobe Kosoku Railway (also called Kobe Rapid Transit Railway) is a railway network in central Kobe that connects the lines of four private railway companies. The Kobe Kosoku Railway Company maintains the stations and lines on this network, but it does not run its own trains. Instead the network is used by trains from the Sanyo, Hankyu, Hanshin, and Shintetsu railway companies. These four railway companies and Kobe City all own shares in the Kobe Kosoku Railway Company.
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Officially, Kobe Kosoku Railway has two lines called the “Tozai Line” and the “Namboku Line.” The Tozai Line (literally “East-West Line”) consists of a main line and two branches that connect with the Hanshin and Hankyu railway networks. The Namboku Line (literally “South-North Line”) connects the Kobe Kosoku network with the Shintetsu railway network.
However, the official names “Tozai Line” and “Namboku Line” are not actually used in any railway stations. On station maps, fare charts, and on ticket machines the whole network is simply called the Kobe Kosoku Line.
The Tozai Line
The Tozai Line is the main line of the Kobe Kosoku network. It runs eastward from Nishidai Station in the west of the city to Kosoku Kobe Station in central Kobe. Here the Tozai Line splits into two branch lines: one bound for the Hankyu network and one bound for the Hanshin network. At Nishidai Station the Main Line connects with the Sanyo Dentetsu Main Line. Running west-to-east the stations are:
Nishidai – Kosoku Nagata – Daikai – Shinkaichi – Kosoku Kobe
The Tozai Hankyu Branch Line
The Tozai Hankyu Branch Line runs from Kosoku Kobe Station to Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya Station where it connects with the Hankyu Kobe Line. Running west-to-east the stations are:
Kosku Kobe – Hanakuma – Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya
The Tozai Hanshin Branch Line
The Tozai Hanshin Branch Line runs from Kosoku Kobe Station to Motomachi Station where it connects with the Hanshin Main Line. Running west-to-east the stations are:
Kosoku Kobe – Nishi-Motomachi – Motomachi
The Namboku Line
The Namboku Line has just two stations. It runs north from Shinkaichi Station on the Tozai Line and joins the Shintetsu Arima Line at Minatogawa Station. Only Shintetsu trains run on this line. Running south-to-north the stations are:
Shinkaichi – Minatogawa
Hanshin Railway and Sanyo Dentetsu both run through services between Hanshin Osaka-Umeda Station in Osaka and Sanyo-Himeiji Station in Himeiji. These through services run along the Hanshin Main Line, the Kobe Kosoku Tozai Line, and the Sanyo Dentetsu Main Line.
Sanyo Dentetsu also runs through services from Sanyo Himeiji Station to Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya Station via the Sanyo Dentetsu Main Line and the Kobe Kosoku Tozai Line.
Hankyu Railway runs through services on the Hankyu Kobe Line from Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station as far as Shinkaichi Station on the Kobe Kosoku Tozai Line.
Shintetsu (also called Kobe Electric Railway or Kobe Dentetsu) run through services on the Shintetsu Arima Line and the Kobe Kosoku Namboku Line. These services connect Shinkaichi Station with Arima Onsen Station on the Shintetsu Arima Line and Sanda Station on the Shintetsu Sanda Line.
This station connects the Tozai Line with the Sanyo Dentetsu Main Line.
Kosoku Nagata Station
This station is a 1-minute walk from Nagata Station on the Seishin-Yamate Subway Line.
Shinkaichi is an important station as the Tozai and Namboku lines meet here. Shinkaichi is also the terminal station for services on the Shintetsu Arima Line and for Hankyu services from Osaka-Umeda. Passengers can transfer here to Sanyo Dentetsu and Hanshin services bound for Himeiji, Sanyo Dentetsu, Hanshin, and Hankyu services bound for Kobe-Sannomiya and Osaka-Umeda, and Shintetsu services bound for Arima Onsen and Sanda.
Kosoku Kobe Station
This station is an 11-minute walk from the Kobe Harborland commercial district. Kobe Harborland features many shops and restaurants, a Ferris Wheel, and the Anpanman Children’s Museum.
This station is also 4 minutes from Kobe Station on the JR Kobe Line and 5 minutes from Harborland Station on the Kaigan Subway Line.
This station on the Hankyu Branch Line is a 10-minute walk from Kobe’s Meriken Park. This pleasant waterfront park has two main attractions: Kobe Port Tower and Kobe Maritime Musuem. Kobe Port Tower is 108 meters high and has observation decks offering panoramic views over the city and its harbor. There is also a rotating café on the 3rd floor. The tower is open from 9.00 to 21.00 between March and November and until 19.00 between December and February.
Kobe Maritime Museum has models and exhibits showing the history of the international port of Kobe. The museum is open between 10.00 and 18.00 and closed on Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday) and during the New Year holidays (December 29th to January 3rd). Last entry to both the tower and the museum is 30 minutes before closing.
This station is also a 3-minute walk from Minato Motomachi Station on the Kaigan Subway Line.
This station on the Hanshin Branch Line is very convenient for the Motomachi Shopping Arcade and for Kobe’s Chinatown (also called Nankinmachi).
Hankyu & Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Stations
These two stations are a 5-minute walk away from each other in the Sannomiya district, which is Kobe’s main transportation hub. Nearby attractions include Ikuta Jinja Shrine, which is one of the oldest shrines in the country, and Kobe City Museum, which displays historical and archaeological exhibits as well as art. The shrine is free to enter. Kobe City Museum is open from 9.30 – 17.30. Admission to the ground floor historical exhibition is free and costs 300 yen for the 2nd floor art collection.
Transfers can be made here to the JR Kobe Line at JR Sannomiya Station, the Hanshin Main Line at Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Station, the Hankyu Kobe Line at Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya Station, the Seishin-Yamate Subway Line at Sannomiya Subway Station, and the Portliner at Kobe New Transit’s Sannomiya Station.
When buying tickets on Kobe’s private railway networks, first check the fare chart above the ticket machines. The fare chart will show you the railway company for your destination and the fare.
On the ticket machine choose the railway company first and then choose your fare.
To plan your journey on the Kobe Kosoku Railway network and on other private railways use English language online route finders like the Japan Transit Planner or Hyperdia.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.