Tohoku shinkansen

Tōhoku Shinkansen
E5 series shinkansen on a Hayabusa service, March 2011
Type Shinkansen
Locale Japan
Termini Tokyo
Stations 23
Opening 23 June 1982
Owner JR East
Depot(s) Tokyo, Sendai, Morioka
Line length 674.9 km
Track gauge
Electrification 25 kV AC, 50 Hz, overhead catenary
Operating speed 320 km/h (200 mph)
Route map

The Tōhoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線?) is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen rail line, connecting Tokyo with Aomori in Aomori Prefecture in a route length of 674 km (419 miles), making it Japan's longest Shinkansen line. It runs through the more sparsely populated Tōhoku region of Japan's main island, Honshu, and is being extended as the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate (due to open in March 2016) and Sapporo by 2035. It has two Mini-shinkansen branch lines, the Yamagata Shinkansen and Akita Shinkansen. The line is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).


There are currently four services in operation:

  • Hayabusa, Tokyo - Shin-Aomori limited-stop, starting 5 March 2011
  • Hayate, Tokyo - Shin-Aomori limited-stop, starting December 2002
  • Yamabiko, Tokyo - Sendai limited-stop, and all-stations to Morioka, starting June 1982
  • Nasuno, Tokyo-Kōriyama all-stations, starting 1995

One service has been discontinued:

  • Aoba, Tokyo - Sendai all-stations, June 1982 - October 1997 (consolidated with Nasuno)

Through trains on the Akita Shinkansen and Yamagata Shinkansen lines also run on Tōhoku Shinkansen tracks from Morioka and Fukushima respectively.

As of 16 March 2013, the maximum line speed is 110 km/h (70 mph) between Tokyo and Ōmiya, 275 km/h (170 mph) between Ōmiya and Utsunomiya, 320 km/h (200 mph) between Utsunomiya and Morioka, and 260 km/h (160 mph) between Morioka and Shin-Aomori.[1][2] On 30 October 2012, JR East announced that it is pursuing research and development to increase speeds to 360 km/h (224 mph) on the Tohoku Shinkansen by 2020.[3]

List of stations

Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
Tokyo 東京 0.0 Tōkaidō Shinkansen, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Chūō Main Line, Tōkaidō Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Sōbu Line, Keiyō Line Chiyoda Tokyo
Ueno 上野 3.6 Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Keisei Main Line, Jōban Line, Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Tōhoku Main Line, Takasaki Line Taitō
Ōmiya 大宮 31.3 Jōetsu Shinkansen, Tobu Noda Line, New Shuttle, Nagano Shinkansen, Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Saikyō Line, Kawagoe Line, Tōhoku Main Line, Takasaki Line Ōmiya-ku, Saitama Saitama Prefecture
Oyama 小山 80.6 Tōhoku Main Line, Ryōmō Line, Mito Line Oyama Tochigi Prefecture
Utsunomiya 宇都宮 109.0 Tōhoku Main Line, Nikkō Line Utsunomiya
Nasu-Shiobara 那須塩原 152.4 Tōhoku Main Line Nasushiobara
Shin-Shirakawa 新白河 178.4 Tōhoku Main Line Nishigō Fukushima
Kōriyama 郡山 213.9 Tōhoku Main Line, East Ban'etsu Line, West Ban'etsu Line, Suigun Line Koriyama
Fukushima 福島 255.1 Yamagata Shinkansen, Tōhoku Main Line, Ōu Main Line, Fukushima Kōtsū Iizaka Line, Abukuma Express Line Fukushima
Shiroishi-Zaō 白石蔵王 286.2 Shiroishi Miyagi Prefecture
Sendai 仙台 325.4 Tōhoku Main Line, Senzan Line, Senseki Line, Jōban Line, Sendai Subway Nanboku Line Aoba-ku, Sendai
Furukawa 古川 363.8 Rikuu East Line Ōsaki
Kurikoma-Kōgen くりこま高原 385.7 Kurihara
Ichinoseki 一ノ関 406.3 Tōhoku Main Line, Ofunato Line Ichinoseki Iwate
Mizusawa-Esashi 水沢江刺 431.3 Ōshū
Kitakami 北上 448.6 Tōhoku Main Line, Kitakami Line Kitakami
Shin-Hanamaki 新花巻 463.1 Kamaishi Line Hanamaki
Morioka 盛岡 496.5 Akita Shinkansen, Tōhoku Main Line, Tazawako Line, Yamada Line, Iwate Ginga Railway Line (IGR), Hanawa Line (JR, via IGR) Morioka
Iwate-Numakunai いわて沼宮内 527.6 Iwate Ginga Railway Line Iwate
Ninohe 二戸 562.2 Iwate Ginga Railway Line Ninohe
Hachinohe 八戸 593.1 Aoimori Railway Line, Hachinohe Line, Hachinohe Aomori Prefecture
Shichinohe-Towada 七戸十和田 628.2 Shichinohe
Shin-Aomori 新青森 674.9 Ōu Main Line, Hokkaido Shinkansen (due to open March 2016) Aomori

Rolling stock

As of March 2013, the following types are used on Tōhoku Shinkansen services.

Types no longer used

Non-revenue-earning types


  • 28 November 1971: Construction starts on the line.
  • 23 June 1982: The Ōmiya-Morioka section opens.
  • 14 March 1985: The Ueno-Ōmiya section opens.
  • 20 June 1991: The Tokyo-Ueno section opens.
  • October 1998: 1 billionth passenger carried on Tōhoku, Jōetsu and Nagano Shinkansen lines.
  • 1 December 2002: The Morioka-Hachinohe section opens.
  • 13 April 2010: Test running starts on the extension from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori.[5]
  • 4 December 2010: The extension from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori opens.[6]
  • 5 March 2011: New Hayabusa services operating at 300 km/h commence operation between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori using new E5 series trainsets.[7]
  • 23 June 2012: The line's 30th anniversary was celebrated, with approximately 1.93 billion passengers having been transported on the line.[8]

From Shin-Aomori, construction is underway to continue the line to Shin-Hakodate in Hokkaido (148.9km, due to open by March 2016 under the name Hokkaido Shinkansen), passing through the world's longest undersea railway tunnel, the Seikan Tunnel, and a further 211.3km to Sapporo by 2035.

The mountainous terrain that the line passes through has necessitated heavy reliance on tunnels. The Iwate-Ichinohe Tunnel on the Morioka-Hachinohe stretch, completed in 2000, was briefly the world's longest land rail tunnel at 25.8 km, but in 2005 it was superseded by the Hakkōda Tunnel on the extension to Aomori, at 26.5 km. In 2007 the Lötschberg Base Tunnel (34.57km), and in 2010 the Gotthard Base Tunnel (57km, bored through and due in service by 2016) in Switzerland superseded both.

Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, services on the Tōhoku Shinkansen were suspended as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. JR East estimated that around 1,100 repairs would be required for the line between Omiya and Iwate-Numakunai, ranging from collapsed station roofs to bent power pylons.[9]

Limited service on the line was restored in segments: Tokyo to Nasu-Shiobara was re-opened on 15 March, and Morioka to Shin-Aomori was re-opened on 22 March.[10] The line between Morioka and Ichinoseki re-opened on 7 April, Nasu-Shiobara and Fukushima on 12 April, and the rest of the line on or around 30 April, although not at full speed or a full schedule.[11][12][13] The trains returned to full-speed operations on 23 September 2011.[14]

Special event train services

25th anniversary

On 23 June 2007, 10-car set K47 was used for a special Yamabiko 931 service from Omiya to Morioka to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen.[15]

30th anniversary

On 23 June 2012, 10-car set K47 was used for a special Yamabiko 235 service from Omiya to Morioka to mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen.[16]


  • JR Timetable, December 2008

External links

  • JR East website (Japanese)
  • Japan blasts longest land tunnel