Hamanasu (train)

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ED79 4 Hamanasu 20130622.jpg
A Hamanasu service in June 2013 headed by a Class ED79 electric locomotive
Service typeExpress
First service
  • June 1955 (Semi Express)
  • March 1988 (Overnight Express)
Last serviceMarch 2016
Former operator(s)
Distance travelledApprox. 480 km
Average journey timeApprox. 7 hours 30 minutes
Service frequency1 return service daily
On-board services
Seating arrangements2+2 reclining seating
Sleeping arrangementsCompartments/carpeted floor accommodation
Catering facilitiesNone
Rolling stock14/24 series coaches
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification20 kV AC / diesel
Operating speed110 km/h (70 mph)[1]

The Hamanasu (はまなす) was an overnight express train service in Japan operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido), which ran from Aomori to Sapporo via the Tsugaru Line, Kaikyō Line, Esashi Line, Hakodate Main Line, Muroran Main Line, and Chitose Line.[1] The journey took approximately seven and a half hours.[2] Following the withdrawal of the Ginga overnight express service between Tokyo and Osaka in 2008, the Hamanasu became the only locomotive-hauled express service in Japan. The service was discontinued in March 2016.

Rolling stock[edit]

The train was formed of 14 and 24 series seating cars and sleeping cars based at JR Hokkaido's Sapporo Depot, typically consisting of 7 cars. The train was hauled by a JR Hokkaido Hakodate-based Class ED79 AC electric locomotive between Aomori and Hakodate, and by a Hakodate-based Class DD51 diesel locomotive between Hakodate and Sapporo.[1]

The typical formation in 2010 was as follows.[3]

  1. SuHaNeFu 14-550 (Sleeping car with generator)
  2. OHaNe 24-500 (Sleeping car)
  3. SuHaFu 14-550 (Non-reserved seating car with generator)
  4. OHa 14-500 (Reserved "Nobinobi Carpet" sleeping car)
  5. OHa 14-500 (Reserved "Dream car" seating car)
  6. OHa 14-500 (Reserved "Dream car" seating car)
  7. SuHaFu 14-500 (Non-reserved seating car with generator)

The "Dream cars" used reclining seats from former Green cars.


Sleeping car accommodation[edit]

Seating car accommodation[edit]


The Hamanasu was introduced on 1 June 1955 as a semi-express operating between Hakodate and Abashiri via Sapporo. From 1 October 1961, this was upgraded to Express status as a service operating between Sapporo and Abashiri. This operated until 30 September 1968, when the services were integrated with the Taisetsu (大雪) express services.[4]

The Hamanasu name was revived from 13 March 1988 for use on overnight express services between Aomori and Sapporo following the opening of the Seikan Tunnel.[5] Initially, the train consisted of five 14 series seating cars only (with two designated as reserved seating cars), but from July 1991, two sleeping cars were included in the formation.[4][5] From March 1997, a "Nobinobi Carpet" sleeping car was also added.[5]


The last Hamanasu services were discontinued in March 2016 ahead of the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen high-speed line. The last up service departed from Sapporo Station on 20 March 2016, and the last down service departed from Aomori on 21 March, arriving at Sapporo on 22 March.[6]

Reasons cited by JR Hokkaido for discontinuing the service included (1) the locomotives used to haul the train through the Seikan Tunnel not being able to operate through the tunnel after March 2016, (2) the lack of funds to purchase new locomotives, (3) the difficulties in securing paths through the tunnel at night due to inspections of the shinkansen infrastructure, and (4) aging rolling stock dating from 40 years ago.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c JR新幹線&特急列車ファイル [JR Shinkansen & Limited Express Train File]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbun. 2008. ISBN 978-4-330-00608-6.
  2. ^ "JR Timetable" October 2009 issue
  3. ^ Kato, Masaru (February 2011). 孤高の客車急行"はまなす" [The sole loco-hauled express - "Hamanasu"]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 51 no. 598. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. pp. 32–37.
  4. ^ a b 列車名鑑1995 [Train Name Directory 1995]. Japan: Railway Journal. August 1995.
  5. ^ a b c Kekke, Yoshiyuki (Spring 2004). 現役急行列車ガイド [Guide to Express Trains Still in Operation]. jtrain. Japan: Ikaros Publications. 13: 12–15.
  6. ^ 寝台急行「はまなす」最後の旅  札幌発、青森行き [Last journey on the "Hamanasu" sleeping car express from Sapporo to Aomori]. Sankei Photo Journal (in Japanese). Japan: The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  7. ^ 夜行急行:「はまなす」廃止へ 北海道新幹線や老朽化で [Overnight express "Hamanasu" to be scrapped - Due to Hokkaido Shinkansen and ageing stock]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. 6 September 2015. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.

External links[edit]