E4 series on a Max Toki service, January 2006
|Opening||15 November 1982|
|Rolling stock||200/E4 series|
|Line length||269.5 km (167.5 mi)|
|Electrification||25 kV AC, 50 Hz, overhead catenary|
|Operating speed||245 km/h (150 mph)|
- Toki, Tokyo - Niigata
- Max Toki, Tokyo - Niigata
- Tanigawa, Tokyo - Echigo-Yuzawa (since October 1997)
- Max Tanigawa, Tokyo - Echigo-Yuzawa (since October 1997)
- Asahi, Tokyo - Niigata (discontinued December 2002)
- Max Asahi, Tokyo - Niigata (discontinued December 2002)
There is also a 1.8 km spur from Echigo-Yuzawa to Gala-Yuzawa Station, which is used in the winter months to bring passengers to the adjoining ski resort.
As of March 2013, the following train types operate on Joetsu Shinkansen services.
- E2 series: Toki / Tanigawa (since January 2013)
- E4 series: Max Toki / Max Tanigawa (since October 1997)
E2 series shinkansen train
E4 series, July 2008
Types no longer used
- 200 series: Toki / Tanigawa (until March 2013)
- E1 series: Max Toki / Max Tanigawa (until September 2012)
200 series on a Tanigawa service, January 2011
E1 series on a Max Asahi service, June 2002
The program to build the new line was initiated in 1971 by Niigata-born prime minister Tanaka Kakuei. Built at a cost of $6.3 billion, it was built "to establish closer ties with Tokyo and promote regional development".
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 on the Jōetsu Shinkansen line, and in December 1993, the STAR21 experimental train managed 425 km/h. The maximum speed for regular services on the line is 245 km/h except for the section between Jomo-Kogen and Urasa which is 275 km/h for E2 series trains travelling towards Niigata. The urban section between Tokyo and Ōmiya is 110 km/h.
The Basic Plan specifies that the Jōetsu Shinkansen should actually start from Shinjuku, which would necessitate building 30 km of additional Shinkansen track from Ōmiya. While some land acquisitions along the existing Saikyō Line were made, no construction ever started. To this day, a portion of underground land near Shinjuku Station remains reserved, causing the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line to be built deeper underground than would otherwise have been necessary.
If the capacity on the current Tokyo-Ōmiya section proves insufficient after the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension between Nagano and Kanazawa and the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen between Aomori and Hakodate, the construction of the link between Shinjuku and Ōmiya stations may proceed.
Provisions were also made for extending the line from Niigata to Niigata Airport.
Special event train services
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.
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. This was the first revenue-earning service operated on the Joetsu Shinkansen by an E5 series trainset.
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- JR East website (Japanese)