|Locale||Tokyo; Saitama, Gunma, Nagano, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui Prefectures|
|Termini|| Takasaki |
|Operator(s)|| JR East (From Takasaki to Jōetsumyōkō)|
JR West (From Jōetsumyōkō to Kanazawa)
|Rolling stock||E7 series, W7 series|
|Opened||1 October 1997|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Minimum radius||4,000 m (13,000 ft)|
|Electrification||25 kV AC, 50/60 Hz, overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||260 km/h (160 mph)|
The Hokuriku Shinkansen (北陸新幹線) is a high-speed Shinkansen railway line jointly operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and West Japan Railway Company (JR West), connecting Tokyo with Kanazawa in the Hokuriku region of Japan. The first section, between Takasaki and Nagano in Nagano Prefecture, opened on 1 October 1997, originally called the Nagano Shinkansen (長野新幹線) (Takasaki is linked to Tokyo by the Jōetsu Shinkansen). The extension to Toyama in Toyama Prefecture and Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture opened on 14 March 2015. Construction of a further section onward to Fukui and Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture commenced in 2012, with scheduled opening in fiscal 2022. The route of the final section to Shin-Osaka was decided on 20 December 2016 as the Osaka–Kyoto route, with construction expected to begin in 2030 and take 15 years.
Since March 2015, services on the line are split into four types, with train names as listed below.Trains operate over the Joetsu and Tohoku Shinkansen tracks between Tokyo and Takasaki.
The original Nagano Shinkansen Asama services, introduced in 1997, replaced the conventional Shin'etsu Main Line limited express services, also named Asama, which previously took 2 hours 50 minutes from Tokyo (Ueno Station) to Nagano. Following the opening of the Shinkansen, part of the conventional line was abandoned between Yokokawa and Karuizawa. This section included the steeply-graded Usui Pass which required the use of bank engines on all trains.
|Station name||Japanese||Distance from Takasaki (km)||Transfers||Location|
|Karuizawa||軽井沢||41.8||Shinano Railway Line||Karuizawa, Kitasaku||Nagano|
|Sakudaira||佐久平||59.4||■ Koumi Line||Saku|
|Iiyama||飯山||147.3||■ Iiyama Line||Iiyama|
|Jōetsumyōkō||上越妙高||176.9||ETR Myōkō Haneuma Line||Jōetsu||Niigata|
|Kurobe-Unazukionsen||黒部宇奈月温泉||253.1||Toyama Chihō Railway Main Line||Kurobe||Toyama|
|Shin-Takaoka||新高岡||305.8||■ Jōhana Line||Takaoka|
|Under construction; scheduled to open in fiscal 2022|
|Komatsu||小松||372.6||■ Hokuriku Main Line||Komatsu||Ishikawa|
|Kagaonsen||加賀温泉||387.2||■ Hokuriku Main Line||Kaga|
|Awaraonsen||芦原温泉||403.4||■ Hokuriku Main Line||Awara||Fukui|
|Environmental impact assessment is underway.|
As of 2012, the maximum line speed is 110 km/h (70 mph) between Tokyo and Omiya, 245 km/h (150 mph) between Omiya and Takasaki, and 260 km/h (160 mph) between Takasaki and Nagano.
With the start of Nagano Shinkansen services, trains were operated by a new fleet of JR East E2 series 8-car sets. A fleet of 17 new E7 series 12-car trainsets were phased in from March 2014, and these were augmented by a fleet of 10 JR West W7 series 12-car sets introduced from March 2015. The fleet of W7 series was purchased at a cost of ¥32.8 billion.The remaining E2 series trainsets were withdrawn from Hokuriku Shinkansen services on 31 March 2017.
In 2019, ten trains, eight from JR East with a book value of ¥11.8 billion and two from JR West, were damaged when a train yard in Nagano was flooded as the Chikuma River overflowed during typhoon Hagibis.As a result, JR West suffered a loss of ¥3 billion.
The original E2 series 8-car "J" sets, primarily used on Tohoku Shinkansen services were also used on some Asama services until they were subsequently lengthened to 10 cars. One specially-modified 200 series set, numbered F80, was used on additional Asama services in February 1998 during the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano. The train was modified to operate on both 25 kV AC 50 Hz and 60 Hz overhead power supplies, incorporated weight-saving measures to comply with the 16 tonne axle load restriction, and included additional control equipment to cope with the 30‰ gradient of the Nagano Shinkansen. Its maximum speed was limited to 210 km/h (130 mph). The last services operated using eight-car E2 series trainsets ran on 31 March 2017, from which date all Asama services were formed of E7 and W7 series trainsets.
The initial section between Takasaki and Nagano opened on 1 October 1997, in time for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.
Between May 2012 and March 2014, station platforms on the Nagano Shinkansen had their platform roofs extended to handle the E7 series 12-car trains which entered service in March 2014 ahead of the March 2015 opening of the extension beyond Nagano.The Hokuriku Shinkansen extension from Nagano to Kanazawa opened in March 2015. The 113-km extension from Kanazawa to Tsuruga was approved for construction in June 2012.
From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, E7 series trainsets were introduced on Asama services.Initially used on seven return services daily, this number was increased to eleven return services daily from 19 April 2014.
The line's legal name has always been Hokuriku Shinkansen. However, just before the opening of the Nagano section, JR East has decided that using this name in passenger service is to be avoided. From March 22, 1997 until the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa, the primary route for Hokuriku customers (from the Tokyo area) is to use the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa Station, then transfer to Hakutaka via the Hokuetsu Express, rendering using the Takasaki–Nagano section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen meaningless for them. Therefore, JR East sought other names.
On the other hand, local governments in Hokuriku, fearing construction west of Nagano may be halted, petitioned that the name "Hokuriku" should remain in use for operational purposes.。
JR East announced the following solution at July 25, 1997:
Soon, "Nagano-bound Shinkansen" fell out of use, and timetables by various publishers use "Nagano Shinkansen" only.Construction to Kanazawa was officially decided, thereby reducing the opposition to the name.
Construction of the extension from Nagano to Kanazawa was completed on 24 May 2014.When services commenced in March 2015, the travel time from Tokyo to Toyama was reduced to about 2 hours, with Kanazawa an additional 30 minutes away. Final permission to start construction to Fukui was granted in December 2011, with modification works to Fukui Station already in progress for several years in anticipation of the extension. The extension to Tsuruga was approved for construction on 30 June 2012, and is scheduled to open in fiscal 2022. Beyond Jōetsumyōkō Station, the line is operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) instead of East Japan Railway Company (JR East).
Many people speculated about and discussed what the line's operational name should be after Nagano–Kanazawa section is completed.
Nagano economic associations argued a sudden change in name will confuse customers, propose "Nagano–Hokuriku Shinkansen" to be used.In contrast government officials and economic associations in Hokuriku region defended the legal name, including statements such as "a just result should come after 3 prefectures striving for 40 years".
Section west of Jōetsumyōkō belongs to JR West, which did not state an opinion and used "Hokuriku Shinkansen" only.
On October 2, 2013, JR East announced formal line name will be Hokuriku Shinkansen (consistent with National Shinkansen Railway Development Act) and depicted as Hokuriku Shinkansen (via Nagano), resolving the naming issue.
Test-running on the JR East section of the line between Nagano and Kurobe-Unazukionsen commenced on 1 December 2013, initially at low speeds using the "East i" test train. 260 km/h (160 mph). Test-running continued until the end of March 2014. Test-running on the entire line between Nagano and Kanazawa (Hakusan Depot) started on 1 August 2014, using the "East i" test train. Test-running using W7 series trains commenced on 5 August 2014, initially at low speed, on the JR West section between Kanazawa and Jōetsumyōkō.From 6 December, test-running commenced using 10-car E2 series trainsets, with running speeds gradually increased to the full line speed of
The route of the final section from Tsuruga to Ōsaka was finalized on 20 December 2016 as the 'Obama–Kyoto' route.The following four options were under consideration, with a fifth unofficial option suggested by a local politician.
A government committee deliberating the proposals decided in April 2016 to narrow the proposed route to three alignments between Tsuruga and Kyōto and two alignments between Kyoto and Shin-Ōsaka (a northern route through Minoh and a southern route through the Kansai Science City). On 6 March 2017 the government committee announced the chosen route from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka is to be via Kyotanabe, with a station at Matsuiyamate on the Katamachi Line.There had previously been discussion of routing the line to Tennōji, a major terminal in southeast Osaka, which would allow an extension of the line to Kansai Airport.
In an attempt to extend the benefits of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to stations west of Tsuruga before the section to Shin-Osaka is completed, JR West was working in partnership with Talgo on the development of a Gauge Change Train (GCT), which was proposed to be capable of operating under both the 25 kV AC electrification used on the Shinkansen and the 1.5 kV DC system employed on conventional lines. The six-car train was due to start trials on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and the 1067 mm-gauge Hokuriku and Kosei lines in 2017. As part of the project JR West had begun trials with a purpose-built 180 m-long gauge-changer at Tsuruga. However, as a result of the abandonment of the proposed use of a GCT on the West Kyushu Shinkansen to Nagasaki by JR Kyushu, in August 2018 JR West announced that the proposed GCT between Tsuruga and Osaka had been abandoned.
With the opening of the initial Nagano Shinkansen section in October 1997, the section of the conventional (narrow gauge) Shinetsu Main Line running along approximately the same route between Karuizawa and Shinonoi was transferred from the control of JR East to a newly established third-sector railway operating company, Shinano Railway, becoming the Shinano Railway Line.
With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension north of Nagano on 14 March 2015, the conventional lines running along approximately the same route were transferred from the control of their respective JR owning companies to newly established third-sector railway operating companies funded primarily by the prefectural and municipal governments through which the lines pass. A total of 252.2 km (156.7 mi) of route between Nagano and Kanazawa was transferred to four separate operating companies, including 75.0 km (46.6 mi) of the Shinetsu Main Line between Nagano and Naoetsu, and 177.2 km (110.1 mi) of the Hokuriku Main Line between Naoetsu and Kanazawa. Details of the four third-sector operating companies and their respective lines are as shown below.
|Section||Length (km)||Former line name||Former operating company||Date transferred||New line name||Operating company|
|Karuizawa–Shinonoi||65.1||Shinetsu Main Line||JR East||1 October 1997||Shinano Railway Line||Shinano Railway|
|Nagano–Myōkō-Kōgen||37.3||14 March 2015||Shinano Railway Kita-Shinano Line|
|Myōkō-Kōgen–Naoetsu||37.7||Myōkō Haneuma Line||Echigo Tokimeki Railway|
|Naoetsu–Ichiburi||59.3||Hokuriku Main Line||JR West||Nihonkai Hisui Line|
|Ichiburi–Kurikara||100.1||Ainokaze Toyama Railway Line||Ainokaze Toyama Railway|
|Kurikara–Kanazawa||17.8||IR Ishikawa Railway Line||IR Ishikawa Railway|
The Shinkansen, colloquially known in English as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. Initially, it was built to connect distant Japanese regions with Tokyo, the capital, to aid economic growth and development. Beyond long-distance travel, some sections around the largest metropolitan areas are used as a commuter rail network. It is operated by five Japan Railways Group companies.
The Asama (あさま) is a high-speed Shinkansen train service operated by East Japan Railway Company on the Hokuriku Shinkansen in Japan. The shinkansen service was introduced in October 1997, but the name was first used for a semi-express service operated by Japanese National Railways (JNR) in 1961. "Asama" is the name of an active volcano near Karuizawa, on the boundary between Gunma and Nagano Prefecture.
The Thunderbird is a limited express train service operated by the West Japan Railway Company between Osaka and Kanazawa or Wakuraonsen in Japan, using portions of the Tokaido Main Line, Kosei Line, Hokuriku Main Line, IR Ishikawa Railway Line, and Nanao Line.
Kanazawa Station is a major railway station in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company, the private railway operator Hokuriku Railroad, and the third-sector operator IR Ishikawa Railway.
Toyama Station is a railway station in Toyama, Toyama Prefecture, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company. It is the largest and busiest railway terminal in Toyama.
The Hokuetsu (北越) was a limited express train service in Japan formerly operated by Japanese National Railways (JNR) and later by East Japan Railway Company between Kanazawa and Niigata from 1970 until March 2015.
Kita-Nagano Station is a railway station on the Shinano Railway Kita-Shinano Line in Nakagoe, in the city of Nagano, Japan, operated by the third-sector railway operating company Shinano Railway. It is also a freight terminal for the Japan Freight Railway Company.
Iiyama Station is a railway station on the Iiyama Line in the city of Iiyama, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company. Since 14 March 2015, it is also a stop on the high-speed Hokuriku Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Kanazawa.
Itoigawa Station is a railway station in Itoigawa, Niigata, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company and the third-sector railway operator Echigo Tokimeki Railway. It is also a freight terminal for the Japan Freight Railway Company.
Tomari Station is a railway station on the Ainokaze Toyama Railway Line in Asahi, Toyama, Japan, operated by the third-sector railway operator Ainokaze Toyama Railway.
Arimagawa Station is a railway station on the Echigo Tokimeki Railway Nihonkai Hisui Line in the city of Jōetsu, Niigata, Japan, operated by the third-sector railway operator Echigo Tokimeki Railway.
Kurobe-Unazukionsen Station is a railway station on the high-speed Hokuriku Shinkansen line in Kurobe, Toyama, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company. It opened on 14 March 2015. Shin-Kurobe Station on the Toyama Chihō Railway Main Line is connected to the station by a walkway.
Shin-Takaoka Station is an interchange railway station on the high-speed Hokuriku Shinkansen line and Jōhana Line in Takaoka, Toyama, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company. It opened on 14 March 2015, coinciding with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension from Nagano to Kanazawa.
Kita-Arai Station is a railway station on the Myōkō Haneuma Line in the city of Myōkō, Niigata, Japan, operated by the third-sector operator Echigo Tokimeki Railway.
The Hakutaka (はくたか) is a high-speed shinkansen train service jointly operated by East Japan Railway Company and West Japan Railway Company between Tokyo and Kanazawa on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line in Japan. The shinkansen service was introduced on 14 March 2015, but the name was first used for a limited express service operated by Japanese National Railways (JNR) from 1965 until 1982, and later by JR West and Hokuetsu Express between 1997 and March 2015.
The E7 series (E7系) and W7 series Shinkansen are Japanese high-speed train types operated by East Japan Railway Company and West Japan Railway Company (JR-West), respectively. They were jointly developed.
Jōetsumyōkō Station is an interchange railway station in Jōetsu, Niigata, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company, West Japan Railway Company and the third-sector railway operator Echigo Tokimeki Railway. It opened in March 2015.
The IR Ishikawa Railway is a Japanese third-sector railway company established in 2012 to operate passenger railway services on the section of the JR West Hokuriku Main Line within Ishikawa Prefecture. The main line was separated from the JR West network on 14 March 2015, coinciding with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension from Nagano to Kanazawa. The company was founded on 28 August 2012 and has its headquarters in Kanazawa, Ishikawa.
The Noto Kagaribi (能登かがり火) is a limited express train service operated by West Japan Railway Company between Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, via the IR Ishikawa Railway Line and Nanao Line since 14 March 2015.
The Dinostar is a limited express train service operated by the West Japan Railway Company between Fukui and Kanazawa in Japan via the Hokuriku Main Line since 14 March 2015.
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