781 series

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781 series
781 Lilac Asahikawa 20061103.jpg
781 series on a Lilac service, November 2006
In service 1980–2007
Replaced 485-1000 series
Constructed 1978–1980
Scrapped 2006–2007
Number built 48 vehicles (12 sets)
Number in service None
Number preserved 4 vehicles
Number scrapped 44 vehicles
Formation 4/6 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers L1–L7, L101–L104, L901
Operator(s) JNR (1980–1987)
JR Hokkaido (1987–2007)
Depot(s) Sapporo
Car body construction Steel
Car length 21,250 mm (69 ft 9 in) (end cars)
20,500 mm (67 ft 3 in) (intermediate cars)
Width 2,949 mm (9 ft 8 in)
Height 3,945 mm (12 ft 11 in)
Doors 2 per side
Maximum speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
Traction system Thyristor drive
Electric system(s) 20 kV AC (50 Hz)
Current collection method Overhead line
Bogies DT38A (motored), T208A (trailer)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)

The 781 series (781系?) was an AC electric multiple unit (EMU) train type formerly operated by Japanese National Railways (JNR) and later Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) on limited express services in Hokkaido, Japan, between 1980 and 2007.[1]


781 series 4-car set in JNR livery on a White Arrow service, 1990
  • Ishikari (1980)
  • Lilac (1 October 1980 – 30 September 2007)
  • White Arrow (3 March 1986 – August 1990)
  • Suzuran (1 July 1992 – 30 September 2007)
  • Airport Rapid (1992 – 15 March 2002)


4-car sets (1986–2007)[edit]

Car No. 1 2 3 4
Designation TAc' M TA Mc
Numbering KuHa 780 MoHa 781 SaHa 780 KuMoHa 781
Weight (t) 45.2-45.4 46.2 43.1 48.5-48.8
Capacity 60-64 68 64 56

Cars 1 and 3 were each fitted with one N-PS785 single-arm pantograph (from 2004 onward).[2]

6-car sets (1980–1986)[edit]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Designation TAc' M TA M TA Mc
Numbering KuHa 780 MoHa 781 SaHa 780 MoHa 781 SaHa 780 KuMoHa 781

Cars 1, 3, and 5 were each fitted with one PS102B scissors-type pantograph.[1]

6-car Doraemon Undersea Train set L7 (2003–2006)[edit]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Designation TAc' M TA M TA Mc
Numbering KuHa 780 MoHa 781 SaHa 780 MoHa 781 SaHa 780 KuMoHa 781
Colour Blue Light green Yellow Vermillion Pink Red

Cars 1, 3, and 5 were each fitted with one N-PS785 single-arm pantograph.[2]


The 781 series trainsets did not include Green class (first class) accommodation, but from March to June 2001, improved "u-Seat" seating was added to half of car 4 for reserved seat passengers. All other cars were normally designated as non-reserved seating.[1]


JNR 781 series 6-car set on a Lilac service, 1986
Reliveried 781 series on a Suzuran service, June 2001

The 781 series electric multiple unit was designed specifically for limited express services on electrified lines in the Sapporo area of Hokkaido, to replace the 485-1500 series EMUs first introduced on Ishikari services in 1975, but which proved unreliable in the harsh winter conditions of Hokkaido.[3]

A pre-production 6-car set, classified 781-900 series, was delivered in November 1978. The body was based on the JNR 485 series design, with a more rounded profile to prevent snow adhering, and the electrical systems were based on the earlier 711 series suburban EMU.[3]

Seven full-production 6-car sets were delivered from 1980, with minor improvements including the abolishment of two opening windows on each side. The pre-production set was modified to bring it in line with full production standards in October 1981.[1][3]

The eight 6-car sets were reformed into twelve 4-car sets to cope with increased service frequency from the November 1986 timetable revision. This entailed converting eight MoHa 781 and SaHa 780 cars into KuMoHa 781-100 and KuHa 780-100 cars respectively by adding new cab ends.[1]

A second side door was added to the KuHa 780 and SaHa 780 cars between 1991 and 1993 to reduce station dwell times.[1] The MoHa 781 cars of sets L1 to L7 only were similarly treated in 1993.[2]

Trains were repainted from the original JNR livery into a new livery based on that of the Super Tokachi between February 1992 and March 1993.[2]

Improved "u-Seat" reserved seating accommodation (rows 1 to 7) was added to half of car 4 between March and June 2001.[2]

In 2003, sets L7 and L104 were reallocated to Hakodate depot and reformed to become 6-car set L7 for use on special Doraemon Undersea Train services between Hakodate and Yoshioka-Kaitei inside the undersea Seikan Tunnel from 19 July 2003. Each car was painted a different colour and decorated with Doraemon characters. This operated until August 2006.[2] The set was subsequently scrapped together with the two stored cars from former set L104.

The remainder of the fleet was withdrawn in September 2007.

Preserved examples[edit]

A complete 4-car set, consisting of cars KuHa 780-2, SaHa 780-4, MoHa 780-4, and KuMoHa 781-2, is preserved, minus the bogies, at Kikyo Kindergarten in Hakodate, Hokkaido.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f JR全車輌ハンドブック2005 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 2005]. Japan: Neko Publishing. August 2005. ISBN 4-7770-0382-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f JR電車編成表 '07冬号 [JR EMU Formations - Winter 2007]. Japan: JRR. December 2006. ISBN 4-88283-046-9. 
  3. ^ a b c プロトタイプの世界 - Prototype World. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbunsha. December 2005. p. 111. OCLC 170056962. 
  4. ^ Sasada, Masahiro (September 2012). 国鉄&JR保存車大全 [JNR & JR Preserved Rolling Stock Complete Guide] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Ikaros Publications Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 978-4863206175.