Tobu Railway

"Tobu" redirects here. For the producer, see Tobu (producer).
Tobu Railway Co., Ltd.
Native name
kabushiki kaisha
Traded as TYO: 9001
Genre Rail transport
Founded November 1897
Founder Michinari Suenobu
Rokuro Hara
Headquarters 2-18-12 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Area served
Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Tochigi
Key people
Nezu Kaichirō
Services Passenger railway
Total assets ¥1.3 trillion
Owner Yoshizumi Nezu (from 1999)
Number of employees
4,659 (As of March 2010)
Old Tobu Railway logo used until July 2011

Tobu Railway Co., Ltd. (東武鉄道株式会社 Tōbu Tetsudō Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese commuter railway company in the Greater Tokyo Area as well as an intercity and regional operator in the Kantō region. Excluding the Japan Railways Group companies, Tobu's 463.3 km rail system is the second longest in Japan after Kintetsu. It serves large portions of Saitama Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture, as well as northern Tokyo and western Chiba Prefecture.

The Tobu corporate group is also engaged in road transportation (bus/taxi), real estate, and retail. It is the largest investor in the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan. The company is a member of the Mizuho keiretsu.

The name "Tobu" is formed from the kanji for east (東) and Musashi (武蔵), the initial area served.


Tobu is one of the oldest railway companies in Japan. It was established in November 1897 and began operation between Kita-Senju and Kuki in August 1899. The Tojo Railway was founded in 1911 as a separate company, but shared its president and head office with Tobu.[1]

Tobu was the first railway in the Kanto region to adopt quadruple tracks, on the Kita-Senju to Takenotsuka sector in 1974. The Tobu Dobutsu Koen (Tobu Animal Park) opened in 1981.[2]

Railway network

Diagram of the Tobu network, showing main lines to right and Tojo Lines to lower left

Tobu has two isolated networks which are connected by the Chichibu Railway for ferrying of its rolling stock.

The Tobu Main Line network has a tree topology starting at Asakusa Station in Tokyo, with the Isesaki line as the trunk, and the Tobu Kameido Line, Daishi Line, Tobu Urban Park Line, Tobu Sano Line, Koizumi Line, Tōbu Kiryū Line, and Nikkō Line forming the branches, with further branches into the Tobu Utsunomiya Line and Tobu Kinugawa Lines. It offers surcharged, seat-reserved limited express services from Tokyo to Nikkō and Kinugawa.

The Tojo Line runs northwest from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo to central and western Saitama Prefecture. A branch, the Ogose Line, runs to Ogose from Sakado Station.

Tobu's terminals in Tokyo are at Asakusa Station (Main Line express services), Oshiage Station (most other Main Line services) and Ikebukuro Station (Tojo Line). The Skytree and Isesaki Lines interoperate with the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to serve central Tokyo, while the Tojo Line interoperates with the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line and Minatomirai Line to serve central and southwest Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

Main Lines

Name Symbol Stations Length (km)
Skytree Line AsakusaTōbu-Dōbutsu-Kōen 41.0
Kameido Line HikifuneKameido 3.4
Daishi Line NishiaraiDaishimae 1.0
Isesaki Line Tōbu-Dōbutsu-KōenIsesaki 75.1
Sano Line TatebayashiKuzū 22.1
Koizumi Line TatebayashiNishi-Koizumi, ŌtaHigashi-Koizumi 12.0
Kiryū Line ŌtaAkagi 20.3
Nikkō Line Tōbu-Dōbutsu-KōenTōbu Nikkō 94.5
Utsunomiya Line Shin-TochigiTōbu Utsunomiya 24.3
Kinugawa Line Shimo-ImaichiShin-Fujiwara 16.2
Urban Park Line (Formerly Noda Line) ŌmiyaKasukabeFunabashi 62.7

Tobu Tojo Lines

Name Symbol Stations Length (km)
Tojo Line IkebukuroYorii 75.0
Ogose Line SakadoOgose 10.9

Rolling stock

As of 1 April 2016, Tobu Railway operates a fleet of 1,890 electric multiple unit (EMU) vehicles, the third largest fleet for a private railway operator in Japan after Tokyo Metro (2,728 vehicles) and Kintetsu (1,905).[3]

Express EMUs

Eight new three-car 500 series EMU trains are scheduled to be introduced on limited express services on lines from Asakusa from spring 2017.[4]

Commuter EMUs

Steam locomotive

Tobu plans to operate steam-hauled tourist services on the Kinugawa Line from summer 2017 using JNR Class C11 steam locomotive C11 207 loaned from JR Hokkaido together with JNR Class DE10 diesel locomotive DE10 1099 purchased from JR East, a fleet of six 12 and 14 series coaches purchased from JR Shikoku, and two Yo 8000 brake vans purchased from JR Freight and JR East.[6]

Withdrawn types

Express EMUs

Commuter EMUs


Steam locomotives


  • Terada, Hirokazu (July 2002). データブック日本の私鉄 [Databook: Japan's Private Railways]. Japan: Neko Publishing. pp. 56–57. ISBN 4-87366-874-3. 
  1. "明治28年~45年". Tobu Railway. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. "昭和41年~63年". Tobu Railway. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  3. 私鉄車両編成表 2016 [Private Railway Rolling Stock Formations - 2016] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 25 July 2016. p. 213-214. ISBN 978-4-330-70116-5.
  4. Kusamachi, Yoshimasa (22 April 2015). 東武鉄道、新型特急「500系」2017年春導入へ…分割・併合運転に対応 [Tobu Railway to introduce new 500 series limited express trains in spring 2017 - To allow coupling/splitting en route]. Response (in Japanese). Japan: IID Inc. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  5. 東京メトロ13000系・東武70000系"日比谷線直通"新型車両の仕様が明らかに! [Tokyo Metro 13000 series and Tobu 70000 series - Details of new trains for Hibiya Line through services announced]. Mynavi News (in Japanese). Japan: Mynavi Corporation. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  6. 大手民鉄 2016年度の車両の新造・更新予定 [Major private railway fiscal 2016 rolling stock construction and refurbishment plans]. Tetsudo Daiya Joho Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 45 no. 389. Japan: Kotsu Shimbun. September 2016. p. 70.
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