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Hokuriku Shinkansen Adds 6 New Stations in Extension Through Noto Region

Extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen improves the logistics for supporting the Noto Peninsula earthquake recovery and brings Tokyo closer to the region.



The media was invited for a test ride over the extended section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on February 1, starting at JR Tsuruga Station in Fukui Prefecture. (© Sankei by Kan Emori)

On March 16, JR West will open a new and important extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen along the Sea of Japan. The new section of line runs from Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture to Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture. This is the region devastated by the January 1 Noto Peninsula earthquake

JR West organized a test ride for the media on February 1. The expansion will introduce a total of six new Shinkansen stations within the earthquake-affected areas of Ishikawa and Fukui prefectures. By bringing transportation closer, the extension is expected to contribute to the overall recovery efforts in the Hokuriku region.

JR Tsuruga Station was also accepting donations for the Noto Peninsula earthquake recovery effort on February 1. (© Sankei by Kan Emori)

Contributing to the Region's Recovery

The test ride covered a route from Tsuruga to Kanazawa and back, departing Tsuruga Station slightly after 10 AM. The W7 series train completed the journey to Kanazawa in approximately one hour. Meanwhile, passengers were treated to awe-inspiring views of the picturesque winter scenery in the Hokuriku region.

This Hokuriku Shinkansen extension is a significant development. It is the first expansion since the Nagano to Kanazawa section opened in March 2015, almost nine years ago. 

Covering approximately 125 kilometers, the extended section introduces two new Shinkansen stations in Ishikawa Prefecture, Komatsu and Kaga Onsen. It then adds four stations in Fukui Prefecture: Awara Onsen, Fukui, Echizen Takefu, and Tsuruga. The extension results in approximately a 50-minute reduction in travel time compared to making the journey from Tokyo to Tsuruga using the same route with express trains.

The press was treated to a test ride over the extended section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on February 1. This picture shows off the luxurious interior of the Hokuriku Shinkansen's Gran Class carriage. (© Sankei by Kan Emori)

One new stop on the extended Shinkansen line is Awara City in Fukui Prefecture. There, businesses, especially hot spring inns and accommodations, continue to grapple with cancellations resulting from the lingering impact of the earthquake. However, a local souvenir shop owner expressed hope on January 31, saying, "We anticipate that the Shinkansen extension will contribute to the recovery of customer traffic." 

Massive advertising adorns the staircase at JR Tsuruga Station ahead of the February 1 test ride. In Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture (© Sankei by Kan Emori)

Likely Changes to the Express Train

However, the extension brings about changes in the operations of the limited express Thunderbird. Currently, that train service runs from Osaka through Tsuruga and on to Kanazawa. 

With the opening of the new Shinkansen line, the revised plan is for the Thunderbird to operate only from Osaka to Tsuruga. In turn, that is raising concerns in the Hokuriku region about potential reduced visitors from the Kansai region. 

JR West is considering selling tickets with discounted fares in response. This idea would combine travel on the limited express to Tsuruga with lower fares to points beyond on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. 

Fukui Prefecture's mascot characters also gathered at JR Tsuruga Station Shinkansen ticket gate for the special February 1 event. (© Sankei: Panorama composite of four photos by Kan Emori)

Plans for Future Extensions

On the other hand, there has been discussion of a future extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tsuruga to Shin-Osaka. The Cabinet once presented a hypothetical plan to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. At the time, it stated, "Assuming construction could commence by the fiscal year 2031, completion would be expected by the fiscal year 2046." 

Current government officials, however, point out that no such plans are in the works. "At this moment, the timing of commencement is unclear," said one. He then added, "There is no outlook for opening [an extension] in Fiscal Year 2046."


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: Nobuo Kurokawa


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