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
LocaleNiigata Prefecture
OwnerHokuetsu Express
Line length59.5 km (37.0 mi)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Operating speed130 km/h (80 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 by the Japanese National Railways (JNR), and it was finally completed as a third sector line in 1997, including the 10,472 m (6.5 mi) Akakura Tunnel, the longest on a non-JR line.

Unlike most other third sector company lines, the line made steady profits. Until the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in 2015, the shortest rail link between Kantō and Hokuriku was to take the Jōetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa and then transfer to the Hakutaka express service on the Hokuhoku Line. The previous maximum line speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) made the Hakutaka the fastest narrow gauge service in the country, matched only by the standard gauge Keisei Skyliner services to Narita Airport as the fastest non-Shinkansen service (also at 160 km/h), however this was reduced to 130 km/h (80 mph) on 14 March 2015 following the withdrawal of Hakutaka services on the line.[1]


Some services operate through to Naoetsu or Echigo-Yuzawa.

Upon the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on 14 March 2015, the thirteen express services in each direction[2] of the Hokuhoku Line, which had run from 1997 with an average daily ridership of 6,900 passengers, were cancelled[3] and replaced by a daily special rapid service in each direction. Since then the services are:[4]

  • 14 local services each day
  • An early morning and evening rapid service from Naoetsu to Echigo-Yuzawa with a lunchtime service in the opposite direction
  • A single special 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 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(ja:鍋立山トンネル).


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 Super Rapid
"Snow Rabbit"
Transfers   Location
Jōetsu Line
Echigo-Yuzawa 越後湯沢 17.6 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 [Note 3] 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 [Note 3]  
Hokuhoku-Ōshima ほくほく大島 38.6 |   Jōetsu
Mushigawa-Ōsugi 虫川大杉 44.8 [Note 3]  
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
  1. ^ a b c Not served by Hokuhoku Line services.
  2. ^ Open during the winter skiing season only.
  3. ^ a b c d e Some services do not stop.

See also[edit]


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

External links[edit]