The Kagayaki services are the fastest services operating on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, with most services stopping at only Omiya, Nagano, and Toyama en route (some services also stop at Ueno). Travelling at a maximum speed of 260 km/h (160 mph), the fastest services take 2 hours 28 minutes for the journey between Tokyo and Kanazawa.
Kagayaki shinkansen services use 12-car JR East E7 series and JR West W7 series trainsets, formed as follows, with car 1 at the Tokyo (southern) end. Cars 1 to 10 are ordinary-class cars with 2+3 seating, car 11 is a "Green" car with 2+2 seating, and car 12 is a "Gran Class" car with 2+1 seating. All cars are reserved and no-smoking.
From their introduction in March 1988, services were normally formed of 4-car 485 series dual-voltage (AC/DC) electric multiple units (EMUs) based at Kanazawa Depot, as shown below, with car 1 at the Kanazawa end.
From March 1990, services were normally formed of 6-car Kanazawa-based 485 series EMUs, as shown below, with car 1 at the Kanazawa end. From January 1991, a "Green" (first class) car was added to the formations.
From March 1992, services were normally formed of 6-car Kanazawa-based 485 series EMUs, as shown below, with car 1 at the Kanazawa end and car 6 designated as a non-reserved seating car. Car 1 was divided into smoking and no-smoking sections. At busy periods, trains often ran as 8-car formations.
Kagayaki limited express services were discontinued from 23 March 1997, with the opening of the Hokuhoku Line and the introduction of new Hakutaka services connecting with the Joetsu Shinkansen at Echigo-Yuzawa.