Jōetsu Shinkansen

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Jōetsu Shinkansen
Shinkansen jre.svg
An E7 series train on a Joetsu Shinkansen Toki service in October 2021
Native name上越新幹線
OwnerLogo of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) JR East
LocaleTokyo; Saitama, Gunma, and Niigata Prefectures
Color on map     Light Pink (#f58d79)
TypeHigh-speed rail (Shinkansen)
Operator(s)JR East
Rolling stockE2 series
E7 series
Opened15 November 1982 (40 years ago) (1982-11-15)
Line length269.5 km (167.5 mi)
Track length303.6 km (188.6 mi)
Number of tracksDouble-track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz AC (overhead catenary)
Operating speed240 km/h (150 mph) (older rolling stock); 275 km/h (170 mph) (under construction)
SignallingCab signalling
Train protection systemDS-ATC
Route map
Diagrama da linha Joetsu-Shinkansen.png

The Jōetsu Shinkansen (上越新幹線) is a high-speed shinkansen railway line connecting Tokyo and Niigata, Japan, via the Tōhoku Shinkansen, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). Despite its name, the line does not pass through the city of Joetsu or the historical Jōetsu region, which instead are served by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The name instead originates from the parallel Jōetsu Line, which in turn is named after the two provinces that it connects: Jōshū (an alternate name for Kōzuke Province which comprises today's Gunma Prefecture), and Echigo Province (modern day Niigata Prefecture).

Train services[edit]

  • Toki, Tokyo - Niigata (limited-stop)
  • Tanigawa, Tokyo - Echigo-Yuzawa (all-stations, since October 1997)

Discontinued services[edit]

  • Asahi, Tokyo - Niigata (discontinued December 2002)
  • Max Asahi, Tokyo - Niigata (discontinued December 2002)
  • Max Toki, Tokyo - Niigata (discontinued October 2021)
  • Max Tanigawa, Tokyo - Echigo-Yuzawa (discontinued October 2021)



All trains stop
Some trains stop
Station Japanese Distance (km) Toki Tanigawa Transfers Location
Tokyo 東京 0.0 km
(0 mi)
Chiyoda Tokyo
Ueno 上野 3.6 Taitō
Ōmiya 大宮 31.3 Ōmiya-ku, Saitama Saitama Prefecture
Kumagaya 熊谷 67.9
Honjō-Waseda 本庄早稲田 88.0
  • The symbol for the portion of the Hokuriku Shinkansen run by JR East. Hokuriku Shinkansen
Takasaki 高崎 108.6 Takasaki Gunma
Jōmō-Kōgen 上毛高原 150.4 Minakami
Echigo-Yuzawa 越後湯沢 182.7
Yuzawa Niigata
Urasa 浦佐 212.3
  •      Jōetsu Line
Nagaoka 長岡 245.1
Tsubame-Sanjō 燕三条 268.7
Niigata 新潟 300.8
Chūō-ku, Niigata
  1. ^ a b Although the official terminus of the Ryōmō Line is at Shin-Maebashi and that of the Agatsuma Line is at Shibukawa, trains on both lines run through to Takasaki.
  2. ^ Although the official terminus of the Joetsu Line is at Miyauchi, trains on the line run through to Nagaoka.
  3. ^ Although the official terminus of the Ban'etsu West Line is at Niitsu, most trains on the line run through to Niigata.

The Gala-Yuzawa Line is a 1.8 km (1.1 mi) branch from Echigo-Yuzawa to Gala-Yuzawa Station. It operates in the winter months only, serving the adjoining ski resort.

As of 2012, the maximum line speed is 110 km/h (70 mph) between Tokyo and Omiya, and 245 km/h (150 mph) between Omiya and Niigata. Additionally Tokyo bound trains have a higher limit of 275 km/h (170 mph) between Jōmō-Kōgen and Urasa.[1] Like all Shinkansen lines, the Jōetsu Shinkansen is standard gauge.

Rolling stock[edit]

As of October 2021, the following train types operate on Joetsu Shinkansen services.

Between fiscal 2018 and 2020, eleven 12-car E7 series train sets are scheduled to be introduced on Joetsu Shinkansen services, replacing the E4 series trains,[3] raising the speed from 240 km/h (150 mph) to 275 km/h (171 mph).[4]

Former rolling stock[edit]


The program to build the new line was initiated in 1971 by Niigata-born prime minister Tanaka Kakuei; one popular anecdote is that Tanaka determined the line's routing by drawing it on a map with a red pencil.[5] Built at a cost of $6.3 billion,[6] it was built "to establish closer ties with Tokyo and promote regional development".[7]

Trial runs over the line began in November 1980, and regular service began on 15 November 1982. The line was initially planned to terminate at Shinjuku Station, but economic considerations pushed Japanese National Railways (JNR) to merge the line with the existing Tōhoku Shinkansen line at Ōmiya.

In September 1991, a 400 Series Shinkansen train set a Japanese rail speed record of 345 km/h (214 mph) on the Jōetsu Shinkansen line, and in December 1993, the STAR21 experimental train recorded 425 km/h (264 mph). The maximum speed for regular services on the line is 245 km/h (150 mph) except for the section between Jomo-Kogen and Urasa which is 275 km/h (170 mph) for E2 series trains travelling towards Niigata. The urban section between Tokyo and Ōmiya is 110 km/h (70 mph).[1]

The Basic Plan specifies that the Jōetsu Shinkansen should actually start from Shinjuku, which would necessitate building 30 km (19 mi) of additional Shinkansen track from Ōmiya. While some land acquisitions along the existing Saikyō Line were made, no construction ever started.[citation needed]

The Niigata prefectural government has proposed building a new multi-modal terminal to directly connect the Shinkansen to the port of Niigata, potentially allowing direct transfers to ferries and cruise ships, and to potentially allow direct access between the Shinkansen and Niigata Airport. However this plan is foreseen to be completed only by the mid-2040s.[8]

Future plans[edit]

The entire line is currently being upgraded to 275 km/h (171 mph), with construction starting in May 2019. The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by 2023.[9] Upgrades included improvements to the soundproofing system.[10] This will mark the first time that an E7 series train has operated commercially at more than 260 km/h (160 mph), which is the maximum speed of the only other line served by this train, the Hokuriku Shinkansen. As a result of the upgrades, all trainsets on the Joetsu Shinkansen will operate exclusively with E7 series trainsets and the travel time on the line is projected to be reduced by 7 minutes.[10] The end of E2 series trainsets on Joetsu Shinkansen services is scheduled to take place on 18 March 2023, which is also the date of the implementation for the operating speed improvements.[11]

Special event train services[edit]

On 17 November 2012, a special Joetsu Shinkansen 30th Anniversary (上越新幹線開業30周年号, Jōetsu Shinkansen Kaigyō 30-shūnen-gō) service ran as Toki 395 from Omiya to Niigata using 10-car 200 series set K47.[12]

Also on 17 November 2012, a special Joetsu Shinkansen 30th Anniversary (上越新幹線開業30周年号, Jōetsu Shinkansen Kaigyō 30-shūnen-gō) service ran from Niigata to Tokyo using E5 series set U8, with a special ceremony at Niigata Station before departure.[13][14] This was the first revenue-earning service operated on the Joetsu Shinkansen by an E5 series trainset.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "300km/hのトップランナー" [300 km/h Top Runners]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 52, no. 612. Japan: Kōyūsha Co., Ltd. April 2012. p. 14.
  2. ^ E2系車両を上越新幹線に投入! [E2 series trains to be introduced on Joetsu Shinkansen] (PDF). News Release (in Japanese). Japan: East Japan Railway Company. 16 November 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ 上越新幹線へE7系投入 [E7 series to be introduced on Joetsu Shinkansen]. Tetsudo Hobidas (in Japanese). Japan: Neko Publishing. 4 April 2017. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  4. ^ "JR East prepares for 275km/H operation on Joetsu Shinkansen". 9 May 2019.
  5. ^ "実に地球300周…雪国駆けた「丸顔の美人」 さらば新幹線200系". MSN Sankei News. 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 最後の活躍の舞台となった上越新幹線。その誕生には、田中角栄元首相が赤鉛筆で線を引きルートを決めたとの逸話も残る。
  6. ^ Hayes, Louis D. Introduction to Japanese Politics, p.107.
  7. ^ Takashima, Shuichi. Railway Operators in Japan 3: Tohoku and Niigata Region Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine. Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 29 (pp.40–49)
  8. ^ 新潟の西港区に新幹線、 県が30年後構想. Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  9. ^ "上越新幹線スピードアップ工事に着手 最高速度275km/h、大宮~新潟間で7分程度短縮". 乗りものニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b "JR東日本,2023年春に上越新幹線(大宮—新潟間)の最高速度向上によるダイヤ変更を実施へ" [JR East to implement timetable change by improving maximum speed of Joetsu Shinkansen (between Omiya and Niigata) in spring 2023]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). 9 June 2022. Archived from the original on 8 June 2022. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  11. ^ "JR東日本,3月18日にダイヤ改正を実施" [JR East Implements Schedule Revision Effective 18 March 2023]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). 16 December 2022. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  12. ^ "とき"395号「上越新幹線開業30周年記念号」運転 [Toki 395 "Joetsu Shinkansen 30th Anniversary"]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  13. ^ おかげさまで上越新幹線開業30周年 [Joetsu Shinkansen 30th Anniversary Celebrations] (PDF) (in Japanese). Japan: East Japan Railway Company, Niigata Division. 12 September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  14. ^ a b "団体臨時列車「上越新幹線開業30周年記念号」,E5系で運転" [Special "Joetsu Shinkansen 30th Anniversary" runs using E5 series]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.

External links[edit]