The Yamanote Line (山手線)is a central train line in the heart of Tokyo. The circular line connects many of Tokyo’s most visited and popular districts, making it a core transportation resource within the city. Owned and operated by the East Japan Railway Company, this commuter train connects many of the biggest urban locations in the Yurakucho area, including Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro and 27 of 29 of its stations connecting to other subway lines.
The Yamanote Line was originally built in 1885 when the Shinagawa Line was created between Shinagawa and Akabane. The loop itself was completed over the course of the next 40 years, with the upper half finished between Ikebukuro and Tabata in 1903 and the completion of track between Kanda and Ueno in 1925.
Because the Ministry of Transport did not provide permits for new lines from private companies to cross the Yamanote line from their own stations, many new centers of urban activity developed on the Yamanote Line itself to take advantage of its location. The size of Shinjuku and Ikebukuro are both attributed to this early adaptation by private companies.
The Yamanote Line that exists today was separated from the Keihin-Tohoku Line in 1956 and given its own set of tracks. The two were not completely separated for use (Yamanote trains occasionally used the Keihin-Tohoku tracks during holidays and slow hours) until 1988 when high speed trains were installed.
Today, the Yamanote Line is home to the two busiest passenger train stations in the world and carries more than 3.5 million passengers a day. The New York Subway system, with 26 lines of its own carries a little over 5 million passengers a day.
The Yamanote Line runs between 4:30 am and 1:20 am with trains arriving every 2 and a half minutes during peak hours. The entire loop takes about 1 hour to complete and every train stops at every station. The technical start and stop location is Osaki, where trains are taken out of service, or put into service. The same service is offered occasionally in Ikebukuro and Shinagawa during peak hours.
There are currently 29 stations on the Yamanote Line with a 30th scheduled to be opened in 2010. The stations include the following: