681 series

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681 series
Limited express hakutaka 681kei.JPG
A JR West 681 series train on a Hakutaka service, September 2014
In service 1992–Present
Manufacturer Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Niigata Tekkō
Family name Thunderbird (JR West)
Hakutaka White Wing (JR West)
Snow Rabbit Express (Hokuetsu Express)
Constructed 1992–1997
Number built 102 vehicles
Number in service 102 vehicles
Formation 3/6 cars per trainset
Operator(s) JR West (1992–)
Hokuetsu Express (1997–2015)
Depot(s) Kyōto, Kanazawa
Line(s) served Tokaido Main Line, Kosei Line, Hokuriku Main Line, Nanao Line, Shinetsu Main Line, Joetsu Line, Hokuetsu Express Hokuhoku Line
Car body construction Steel
Maximum speed 160 km/h (100 mph) (Hokuhoku Line)[1]
130 km/h (80 mph) (JR lines)
Traction system Thyristor drive + Variable frequency (GTO)
Electric system(s) 20 kV AC 60 Hz / 1,500 V DC overhead
Current collection method WPS27C scissors-type pantograph
Braking system(s) Regenerative brake, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, snow-resistant brake
Safety system(s) ATS-SW, ATS-P
Multiple working 683 series
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)

The 681 series (681系?) is a dual-voltage electric multiple unit (EMU) train type operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Hokuetsu Express on limited express services in Japan.


681-0 series[edit]

Four 6-car sets (T01–T03, T06) and five 3-car sets (T11–T13, T15, T17) are used on Thunderbird services. These trains feature "Thunderbird" branding. Also four 6-car sets (W01–W04) and four 3-car sets (W11–W14) are used on Hakutaka services. These trains feature "White Wing" logos.[2]

From February 2015, Hakutaka W sets began being repainted into the same livery as 683 series trainsets used on Shirasagi services, with thin blue and orange lines below the window band.[3]

681-1000 series[edit]

The prototype 6-car set (T18) and one 3-car set (T07) are used on Thunderbird services.[2]

681-2000 series[edit]

Two 6-car sets (N01–N02) and two 3-car sets (N11–N12) are used on Hokuetsu Express Hakutaka services. These trains feature "Snow Rabbit Express" logos.[2]


Future developments[edit]

All of the 681 series trainsets used on Thunderbird limited express services are scheduled to undergo a programme of refurbishment from autumn 2015 until the end of fiscal 2018.[4]


  1. ^ JR全車輌ハンドブック2006 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 2006] (in Japanese). Japan: Neko Publishing. 2006. ISBN 4-7770-0453-8. 
  2. ^ a b c JR電車編成表 2009夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2009] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. June 2009. p. 132. ISBN 978-4-330-06909-8. 
  3. ^ 特急〈はくたか〉681系に〈しらさぎ〉色編成現る [Hakutaka 681 series trainsets appear in Shirasagi livery]. RM News (in Japanese). Japan: Neko Publishing Co., Ltd. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  4. ^ より快適に!北陸~近畿を結ぶ特急「サンダーバード」、車両リニューアルへ [Rolling stock to be refurbished for Thunderbird limited express trains linking Hokuriku and Kinki] (in Japanese). Japan: Tetsudo Shimbun. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • オールガイド 681・683系 [Full Guide: 681/683 Series]. Japan Railfan Magazine (Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd.) 49 (577): 56–65. May 2009. 
  • 北越急行681・683系 [Hokuetsu Express 681/683 Series]. Japan Railfan Magazine (Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd.) 49 (577): 46–55. May 2009.