E653-1000 series EMU set U104 on Inaho in 2022
Service typeLimited express
StatusIn operation
LocaleHakushin Line, Uetsu Main Line, Ōu Main Line
First service1 October 1969
Current operator(s)JR East
Former operator(s)JNR
Distance travelled271.7 km (168.8 mi)
Average journey timeApprox. 3 hours 40 minutes
Service frequency7 return services daily
On-board services
Class(es)Green + standard
Disabled accessYes
Sleeping arrangementsNone
Observation facilitiesNone
Entertainment facilitiesNone
Other facilitiesToilets
Rolling stockE653-1000 series EMUs
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Operating speed120 km/h (75 mph)
Track owner(s)JR East

The Inaho (いなほ) is a limited express train service in Japan operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), which runs from Niigata to Sakata and Akita.[1] The train runs along the Uetsu Main Line with views on the coast and Dewa Range.[2]

Service pattern

Three return workings daily operate between Niigata and Akita, with a further four return workings between Niigata and Sakata.[1]

Inaho services stop at the following stations:

Niigata - Toyosaka - Shibata - Nakajō - Sakamachi - Murakami - Fuya - Atsumi Onsen - Tsuruoka - Amarume - Sakata - Yuza - Kisakata - Nikaho - Ugo-Honjō - Akita.[1]

Rolling stock

Since 12 July 2014, all regular Inaho services are operated by seven-car E653-1000 series EMUs displaced from Fresh Hitachi services on the Joban Line.[3] The first set was phased in on Inaho services from the start of the revised timetable on 28 September 2013.[4][5] The E653 series trains are modified with the addition of a Green (first class) car and a new livery evoking images of the sunset, rice plants, and the sea.[4]

Former rolling stock

Inaho services were previously operated by six-car 485 or refurbished 485-3000 series electric multiple unit (EMU) trains based at Niigata Depot,[6] but these trains were replaced by E653-1000 series sets from 12 July 2014.[3]


Services are operated by 7-car E653-1000 series sets, formed as follows, with car 1 at the Akita end and car 7 at the Niigata end. All cars are no smoking.[5]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Numbering KuRo E652-1000 MoHa E653-1000 MoHa E652-1000 SaHa E653-1000 MoHa E653-1000 MoHa E652-1000 KuHa E653-1000
Accommodation Green Reserved Reserved Reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved

Seating in the E653 series Green cars is arranged 2+1, with 18 seats in total.[5]


The Inaho was first introduced from 1 October 1969 as a limited express service operating between Ueno in Tokyo and Akita via Niigata.[7] Trains were formed of 7-car KiHa 80 series DMUs, with one service in each direction daily.[8]

The original schedule was as follows.[8]

From March 1972, train formations were extended to 9 cars to cope with popularity.[8] From October of the same year, the original DMUs were replaced by 485 series EMUs following electrification of the entire route. At the same time, service frequency was increased to two return workings daily, with one service extended to Aomori.[8] Electrification enabled journey times between Ueno and Akita to be reduced to approximately 7 hours 30 minutes, and increasing popularity resulted in formations being lengthened to 12 cars, with non-reserved seating cars added from October 1978, and a third daily return service added from July 1979.[8]

The typical 12-car formation was as follows, with car 1 at the Ueno end.[9]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Accommodation Reserved Green Reserved Reserved Reserved Reserved Restaurant Reserved Reserved Reserved Reserved Reserved

From 15 November 1982, following the opening of the Jōetsu Shinkansen, two of the return Inaho services were cut, and the third return service remaining between Ueno and Akita via Niitsu was renamed Chōkai (鳥海).[8] From this date, Inaho train services were reorganized to run as five return workings daily between Niigata and Akita (with one service extended to/from Aomori) using 9-car 485 series EMUs with no restaurant car facilities.[8]

From March 1985, train formations were reduced to 6-car monoclass sets, although from November 1986, service frequency was increased from five to seven return workings daily.[8]

Green (first class) car accommodation was added to half of one car following privatization of JNR to become JR East.[8]

From the start of the 4 December 2010 timetable revision, services were further truncated to operate between Niigata and Akita, with some trains terminating at Sakata. Former operations between Akita and Aomori were covered instead by extended Tsugaru services.[10]

By 2012, services formed of 6-car 485 series sets were formed as follows, with car 1 at the Sakata end and car 6 at the Niigata end. All cars were no smoking.[1][11]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Numbering KuRoHa 481 MoHa 484 MoHa 485 MoHa 484 MoHa 485 KuHa 481
Accommodation Green Reserved Reserved Reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved
Facilities   Toilet Toilet Toilet Toilet Phone Toilet

From 28 September 2013, refurbished E653-1000 series 7-car sets formerly used on Fresh Hitachi services were phased in on Inaho services, initially on just one return working a day.[5]

From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, a further four return workings daily were operated by refurbished E653-1000 series EMUs, leaving 485 series sets on two return services between Niigata and Sakata.[12] From 12 July 2014, all regular Inaho services were operated by E653-1000 series EMUs.[3]


On 25 December 2005, the train executing the Inaho 14 service from Akita to Niigata was derailed and overturned by strong winds in the vicinity of the No. 2 Mogami River bridge between Kita-Amarume and Sagoshi stations while travelling at a speed of approximately 100 km/h. The front three cars overturned and rolled down the embankment, hitting a concrete structure below. The rear three cars were also derailed but remained upright. A total of 46 people were aboard the train, including three staff members. Five passengers were killed in the accident, and 33 people sustained injuries (including two staff members).[13][14] Heavy snow and winds hampered recovery efforts, and the train was not removed from the accident scene until 1 January 2006. The line was reopened to traffic on 19 January 2006.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d JR Timetable, March 2012 issue, p.101/1003
  2. ^ "TrainReview's guide to the Limited Express Inaho".
  3. ^ a b c 特急“いなほ",485系の定期運用終了 [Regular 485 series "Inaho" workings end]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b 特急「いなほ」の車両を一新します! [New "Inaho" limited express trains] (PDF). News release (in Japanese). Japan: East Japan Railway Company - Niigata Division. 26 June 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d 2013年9月ダイヤ改正について [September 2013 timetable revision details] (PDF). News release (in Japanese). Japan: East Japan Railway Company - Niigata Division. 5 July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  6. ^ JR新幹線&特急列車ファイル [JR Shinkansen & Limited Express Train File]. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. 2008. p. 78. ISBN 978-4-330-00608-6.
  7. ^ 列車名鑑1995 [Train Name Directory 1995]. Japan: Railway Journal. August 1995.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Teramoto, Mitsuteru (July 2001). 国鉄・JR列車名大辞典 [JNR & JR Train Name Encyclopedia]. Tokyo, Japan: Chuoshoin Publishing Co., Ltd. pp. 106–107. ISBN 4-88732-093-0.
  9. ^ Kuribayashi, Nobuyuki (December 2012). "全盛期の国鉄特急を撮る ! その22" [Photographing JNR limited expresses in their heyday - Part 22]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 52, no. 620. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. p. 125.
  10. ^ JR Timetable, December 2010 issue, p.100
  11. ^ JR電車編成表 2012夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2012]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. May 2012. pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-4-330-28612-9.
  12. ^ 3月15日ダイヤ改正と各地の話題 [15 March timetable revision and topics from around the regions]. Tetsudō Daiya Jōhō Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 43, no. 361. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. May 2014. p. 15.
  13. ^ Japan Transport Safety Board accicent report[permanent dead link] Retrieved 21 December 2009. (in Japanese)
  14. ^ Japan Science & Technology Agency accident case study Archived 10 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 21 December 2009. (in Japanese)