Yamagata Shinkansen

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Yamagata Shinkansen
E3-1000 L54 Tsubasa 144 Kita-Yamagata 20150307.jpg
An E3-1000 series train on the Yamagata Shinkansen in March 2015
Native name山形新幹線
OwnerLogo of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) JR East
LocaleFukushima and Yamagata Prefectures
Color on map     Orange (#f36221)
Operator(s)JR East
Rolling stockE3-1000 series/E3-2000 series
OpenedJuly 1, 1992; 30 years ago (1992-07-01) (Tokyo - Yamagata)
December 4, 1999; 23 years ago (1999-12-04) (Yamagata - Shinjō)
Line length148.6 km (92.3 mi)
Number of tracksDouble-track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz AC (Tokyo - Fukushima, overhead line)
20 kV AC, 50 Hz (Fukushima - Shinjō, overhead line)
Operating speed275 km/h (171 mph) (Ōmiya - Fukushima)
130 km/h (81 mph) (Tokyo - Ōmiya, Fukushima - Shinjō)
Maximum incline3.75%
Route Map (from Fukushima in blue)
JR Yamagata Shinkansen linemap.svg

The Yamagata Shinkansen (山形新幹線) is a Mini-shinkansen route in Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It provides service between Tokyo and Shinjō in Yamagata Prefecture over the tracks of the Tohoku Shinkansen and the Ōu Main Line.

The term Yamagata Shinkansen refers to the segment that connects Fukushima and Shinjō. Because the shinkansen trains share tracks with regular service trains, it is often referred to as a "mini-shinkansen".


An aerial view showing the Yamagata Shinkansen diverging to the left from the Tohoku Shinkansen north of Fukushima Station

Trains consist of 7-car E3 series trainsets operating as Tsubasa services. Between Tokyo and Fukushima, the trains run coupled to Yamabiko trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen. Between Fukushima and Shinjō, the trains run on their own at a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and share the line with regular Ōu Main Line trains.[1]

As of July 2012, about 62 million passengers had ridden the line since it opened in July 1992.[2] The fastest trains connected Tokyo and Yamagata stations in two hours and 29 minutes.[2]

Proposed Ou Base Tunnel[edit]

Construction of a Base tunnel on the Yamagata Shinkansen is proposed, with JR East having undertaken a survey of a planned route from Niwasaka to Sekine, just south of Yonezawa station.[3] 23.1 km (14.4 mi) of the proposed 24.9 km (15.5 mi) line would be in tunnel, mostly to the north of the existing 88 km (55 mi) Fukushima – Yamagata section. To be built on an improved alignment, the tunnel would lower journey times between Fukushima and Yamagata by ~10 min due to a proposed line speed of up to 200 km/h.[citation needed]

The tunnel would avoid the Itaya Toge pass through the Ou mountains west of Fukushima. Gradients range from 3.0% to 3.8% and the line reaches an altitude of 548 m (1,798 ft). The curvature and steep grades limit train speeds to 55 km/h (34 mph) or less, and the line is vulnerable to heavy rain and snowfall as well as high winds.[citation needed] Between 2011 and 2017 a total of 410 Yamagata mini-Shinkansen services were either suspended or delayed, and 40% of these incidents occurred on the line over the Itaya Toge pass.[citation needed]

If the ¥150 billion base tunnel is authorised, detailed design would take five years and construction another 15 years.[citation needed] The cost could increase by ¥12 billion if the tunnel were to be built with a cross-section large enough to permit the line to be upgraded to the full Shinkansen loading gauge.[citation needed]

Station list[edit]

Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
From Tokyo From Fukushima
Fukushima 福島 272.8 0.0 Tōhoku Shinkansen (for Morioka), Tōhoku Main Line
AbukumaExpress: Abukuma Express Line
Fukushima Transportation: Iizaka Line
Fukushima Fukushima
Yonezawa 米沢 312.9 40.1 Yonesaka Line Yonezawa Yamagata
Takahata 高畠 322.7 49.9   Takahata, Higashiokitama District
Akayu 赤湯 328.9 56.1 Flower Nagai Line Nanyō
Kaminoyama-Onsen かみのやま温泉 347.8 75.0   Kaminoyama
Yamagata 山形 359.9 87.1   Yamagata
Tendō 天童 373.2 100.4   Tendō
Sakurambo-Higashine さくらんぼ東根 380.9 108.1   Higashine
Murayama 村山 386.3 113.5   Murayama
Ōishida 大石田 399.7 126.9   Ōishida, Kitamurayama District
Shinjō 新庄 421.4 148.6 Ōu Main Line, Rikuu East Line, Rikuu West Line Shinjō

Rolling stock[edit]

As of March 2020, the following types are used on Yamagata Shinkansen services.

E3-2000 series (left) and E3-1000 series (right) at Shinjō

Former rolling stock[edit]

A 400 series set on a Tsubasa service, March 2005
  • 400 series 7-car sets (originally 6-car sets) withdrawn by 18 April 2010

Future rolling stock[edit]


E926 East i train at Omiya Station, May 2001


  • 1 July 1992: Tsubasa services start from Tokyo to Yamagata with six-car 400 Series Shinkansen attached to a 200 Series Shinkansen on Tōhoku Shinkansen tracks between Tokyo and Fukushima.
  • 1 December 1995: Trains are extended to seven cars.
  • 4 December 1999: Line is extended to Shinjō.
  • 21 September 2001: Double-decker E4 Series Shinkansen replace the 200 series trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen.
  • 18 March 2007: All cars are made non-smoking.
  • 20 December 2008: E3-2000 series trains enter service
  • 18 April 2010: 400 series trains cease operations.
  • 11 March 2011: All services are suspended due to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
  • 31 March 2011: Partial services resume between Fukushima and Shinjō.
  • 12 April 2011: Through-service resumed between Tokyo and Shinjō but at half of previous capacity.[4]
  • 13 February 2021: Services suspended north of Nasushiobara Station due to the 2021 Fukushima earthquake.[5]
  • 9 June 2022: The line celebrates 30 years of operation. An E3 series trainset will be wrapped in a commemorative livery and will stay in service until November 2022.[6]


  1. ^ "300km/hのトップランナー" [300 km/h Top Runners]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 52, no. 612. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. April 2012. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Yamagata Shinkansen Line turns 20". The Japan Times. Japan: The Japan Times Ltd. 3 July 2012. p. 2. Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Yamagata mini-Shinkansen base tunnel proposal makes progress". Railway Gazette International. 7 November 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  4. ^ NHK, "Yamagata Shinkansen fully resumes operations", 12 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Tohoku Shinkansen line breaks from the base of utility poles" (in Japanese). TBS News. 14 February 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "山形新幹線開業30周年を記念したラッピング車両を運転" [Driving a wrapping vehicle commemorating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Yamagata Shinkansen]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). 7 June 2022. Archived from the original on 7 June 2022. Retrieved 8 June 2022.

External links[edit]