|Owner||Harmony Rail Transit (Joban)|
|Termini||Central South Lamtsu|
|Operator(s)||Harmony Rail Transit (Joban)|
|Depot(s)||Fung Yuen Depot|
|Opened||7th June 2006|
|Track gauge||1435 mm|
The Seiyo Shinkansen (西予新幹線) is a line of the Joban Shinkansen network, connecting Central South in Fuka, Joban with Lamtsu in Sorano, the two biggest cities in the area. The line is jointly operated by Harmony Rail Transit (Joban) and Kowloon-Canton Railway Company. Harmony Rail Transit (Joban) operates the line far into the borders of Harmony Rail Transit (Lamtsu). it is a southward continuation of the Tohoku Shinkansen and serves other major cities such as Fung Yuen. The Shinkansen route is one of the shortest in the world, with the distance between some stations being comparable to the North-South Line. The Sakura completes the trip from Central South to Lamtsu in 20 minutes, reaching a maximum speed of 300km/h. The Nagano and Shima Shinkansens continue the route eastwards towards Joetsu Prefecture.
Despite the name, the Seiyo Shinkansen does not pass through the Seiyo region, being located entirely within Central Joban and Lamtsu. The Shinkansen gets its name from the Seiyo River.
As of June 2022, the following rolling stock operates on the Seiyo Shinkansen:
Former Rolling Stock
All stations on the Seiyo Shinkansen are operated by Shintetsu, with the exception of Central South which is operated by KCR. Kage services stop at all stations, while Sakura services operate an express from Central South to Lamtsu.
|●||All trains stop|
|｜||All trains pass|
|Central South||中環南||●||●||0.0||Tohoku Shinkansen||Central||Joban|
|Fung Yuen|||||●||13.6||Fung Yuen Line||Fung Yuen|
|Shin-Haebaru|||||●||31.3||Haebaru Railway Haebaru Main Line||Iwate Prefecture||Sorano|
|Tai Hing|||||●||47.5||Hakone Line||Lamtsu|
The Seiyo Shinkansen was constructed to take traffic off the Fung Yuen and Ome Lines, and also provide competition to the Ome Railway Company's limited express services. The line was entirely funded by the Harmony Rail Group, and there were several different alignments proposed.
The first proposal was a half-shinkansen line, with the section from Central South from Fung Yuen being newly built for a Shinkansen. After which it would switch to a mini-shinkansen line using the Fung Yuen Main Line and continue using a similar alignment to the current day Ojika. This would have been called the "Fung Yuen Shinkansen" and would have been operated by Harmony Rail Transit (Joban) instead of Harmony Rail Transit (Lamtsu). HRT Lamtsu rejected the idea, as it would not receive any extra money from the project, and would even lose money from the reduction of Aotetsu services which had to pay to use the tracks into Misato.
The second proposal was a full Shinkansen line, with new tracks being built from Misato all the way to Central South paralleling the Ome Line, with the line to be called the "Lamtsu Shinkansen" or "Lamtsu Railway". The Ome Railway Company protested hotly against this, and bought huge swathes of land to prevent construction of this service, and therefore this proposal was dropped.
The third proposal was also a full Shinkansen line from Misato to Central South, but skirting to Fung Yuen via Ojika. The line would follow the Mihara Line from Misato to Mihara, then continue north-west to Ojika. This time, Nantetsu objected to this, as they had a very lucrative business model that revolved around the development of the Haebaru region due to the traffic passing through. Furthermore, there was no space at Misato for any new station developments.
The time between the third and fourth proposals was 10 years, for some unknown reason. In 1995 Harmony Rail Transit (Lamtsu) put forward the most complete proposal so far, yet which was also very ambitious. This alignment would first skirt to Tai Hing, avoiding all the more populated northern areas, before heading north to Ojika Junction (now Shin-Haebaru). The line then would run parallel to the Fung Yuen Main Line until Fung Yuen, allowing Harmony Rail Transit (Joban) to demolish the massively unprofitable portion of the Fung Yuen Main Line, and then cutting eastwards to Central South, using the right-of-way that had been reserved for the Tohoku Shinkansen 15 years prior. This plan however, had support from Nantetsu, who had by then diversified from railway operations and was mostly a real estate company. They would fund 40% of construction costs on the condition that all serviced stopped at Ojika Junction. The line would be operated by Harmony Rail Transit (Joban), who were filling to foot 20% more, and the remaining 40% would be funded by a loan from the Lamtsu Development Bank.
This proposal was eventually passed and the Shinkansen was opened from Fung Yuen to Tai Hing in 2000, on the 1st of January. The last Limited Expresses to run on the Fung Yuen Main Line ran the day before. There were construction challenges and NIMBY rights that prevented the Fung Yuen-Central South and Tai Hing-Lamtsu sections from being opened that year, and the line was then moved underground, massively inflating the cost.
The Shinkansen was completed on the 7th of July 2012, and originally only had 1 service: a local, all-stations service from Lamtsu to Central South, taking 35 minutes. This was not competitive with the Ome Railway Company's Tokiwa service, which made the same trip in 20 minutes with an additional stop at Ome. The line was not built with passing loops, so the Shinkansen saw a massive loss for profit until 2019.
In 2019, the Joban Border Control act cut the Ome Line off at Ome, and all Limited Express services ended from Misato to Central South. However, the Seiyo Shinkansen was not affected due to intense lobbying from Harmony Rail Transit, and the line profits skyrocketed, with this line becoming known as the "Lamtsu Railway" in Central Joban.
In 2020, two new services were introduced: The Twilight and the Galaxy. These services reduced the travel time significantly, although frequency on the line was also reduced from 20m to 30m. This however did not affect capacity, as the Twilight and Twinkle services had standing space, given that the ride was only 30m.
During the Harmony Rail Group pullout from Joban, the Seiyo Shinkansen was left unclear as to the ownership. While the majority of the Shinkansen passed through the newly formed Shintetsu's territory, it had historically been operated by Harmony Rail Transit (Joban).
While the newly formed Shintetsu now had control over the services, it was unclear whether New Harmony Railways owned the track past Shin-Haebaru. Therefore, when Shintetsu upgraded the Shinkansen between Lamtsu and Shin-Haebaru, the section between Shin-Haebaru and Central South was left significantly slower.
In January 2023 , The Tai Hing tunnels flooded due to a massive engineering oversight, and Shinkansen service were suspended for the next 6 months. All the tunnels were moved to a deeper level to run under the seabed, and Tai Hing station became the deepest station on the Shintetsu network, being 60m below ground level.
Lobbying for additional stations
The Seiyo Shinkansen faced intense lobbying from certain groups to add several stations on the network. Lamtsu (Not the Capital City, officially Shuto prefecture) and Fung Yuen prefectures have asked for Shinkansen stops to be added to the network, as there is no rail transport in those areas. Fung Yuen province argues that it lost all it's rail transport in Lamtsu when the Fung Yuen Main Line was cut back to Fung Yuen, and thus deserves a station more than Haebaru, with a similar population and existing rail links. Shintetsu is currently engaged in discussions with the governors if additional stations can be added.