Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line

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     Hokuhoku Line
HK681 Hakutaka13 Mushikawaosugi 20140909.jpg
A 681 series Hakutaka limited express train at Mushigawa-Ōsugi Station, September 2014
Locale Niigata Prefecture
Termini Muikamachi
Stations 12
Owner Hokuetsu Express
Line length 59.5 km (37.0 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Operating speed 160 km/h (100 mph)
Route map
Hokuhoku Line linemap.svg

The Hokuhoku Line (ほくほく線 Hokuhoku-sen?) is a Japanese railway line in Niigata Prefecture, between Muikamachi in Minamiuonuma and Saigata in Jōetsu. This is the only railway line Hokuetsu Express (北越急行 Hokuetsu Kyūkō?) operates. Construction began in 1968 was begun by the Japanese National Railways (JNR), and was finally completed as a third sector line in 1997, including the 10,472m Akakura Tunnel, the longest on a non-JR line.

Unlike most other third sector company lines, the line is steadily making profits. This is because the shortest rail link between Kantō and Hokuriku is to use Jōetsu Shinkansen, stop at Echigo-Yuzawa, and transfer to the Hakutaka express service on the Hokuhoku Line. However, most of these users are expected to use the Hokuriku Shinkansen when it is extended to Kanazawa in 2014. The maximum line speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) is the fastest non shinkansen JR service in the country, matched only by the Keisei Skyliner services to Narita Airport (also at 160 km/h).


On 14th March 2015, with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, the thirteen Express services in each direction[1] were cancelled[2] and replaced by a daily Cho-rapid service in each direction. The express service ran from 1997 with an average of 6,900 people per day by providing a convenient link for travellers from the Kanto region to Kanazawa. Since then the services are:[3]

  • 14 local services each day
  • An early morning and evening rapid service from Naoetsu to Echigo-Yuzawa with a lunchtime service in the reverse direction
  • A single Cho-rapid service, from Echigo-Yuzawa to Naoetsu in the morning returning in the evening
  • Two additional or extended "Yumezora" local services on the weekends and public holidays

Passing loops[edit]

There are three passing loops on the Hokuhoku Line. Each has one bi-directional through road with straight track to allow full line speed.


Between Uonumakyūryō and Misashima in Tōkamachi, Niigata. It is in the 10472m Akakura tunnel.


Between Tōkamachi and Matsudai in Tōkamachi, Niigata. It is in the 6199m Yakushitōge tunnel.


Between Matsudai and Hokuhoku-Ōshima in Tōkamachi, Niigata. It is in the 9130m Nabetachiyama tunnel.


The Hokuhoku line is entirely in Niigata Prefecture.

  • Stopping patterns:
● Stop
  • Track:
∥: Double-track section
◇: Passing track in single-track section
|: Single-track section
∨: Double-track section ends
∧: Double-track section begins
Line name Station Japanese Distance from
Muikamachi Station
Rapid Transfers   Location
Jōetsu Line
Echigo-Yuzawa 越後湯沢 17.6 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Jōetsu Line (for Takasaki, Gala-Yuzawa) Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District
(Ishiuchi)[Note 1] (石打) 11.2 |   Minamiuonuma
(Ōsawa)[Note 1] (大沢) 7.2 |  
Jōetsu-Kokusai-Ski-jō-mae[Note 2] 上越国際スキー場前 6.2 |  
Shiozawa[Note 3] 塩沢 3.9 |  
Muikamachi 六日町 0.0 Jōetsu Line (for Miyauchi)
Hokuhoku Line
Uonuma-Kyūryō 魚沼丘陵 3.6 |   Tōkamachi
Misashima 美佐島 12.2 |  
Shinza しんざ 14.4 |  
Tōkamachi 十日町 15.9 Iiyama Line
Matsudai まつだい 29.2  
Hokuhoku-Ōshima ほくほく大島 38.6   Jōetsu
Mushigawa-Ōsugi 虫川大杉 44.8  
Uragawara うらがわら 46.8  
Ōike-Ikoi-no-mori[Note 3] 大池いこいの森 51.7 |  
Kubiki くびき 53.6  
Saigata 犀潟 59.5 Shinetsu Main Line (for Niigata)
Shinetsu Main Line
(Kuroi)[Note 1] (黒井) 63.9 |  
Naoetsu 直江津 66.6 Shinetsu Main Line (for Nagano)
Hokuriku Main Line
  1. ^ a b c Not served by Hokuhoku Line services.
  2. ^ Open during the winter skiing season only.
  3. ^ a b Some services do not stop.

See also[edit]


This article also incorporates material from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

External links[edit]