JRH-789 HE-103 Lilac Shiroishi 20170304.jpg
A 789 series EMU on a Lilac service in March 2017
Service typeLimited express
First service
  • 1 June 1963 (Express)
  • 1 October 1980 (Limited express)
  • 4 March 2017 (Limited express)
Current operator(s)JR Hokkaido
Former operator(s)JNR
Line(s) usedHakodate Main Line
On-board services
Class(es)Green + Ordinary
Rolling stock789 series EMUs
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification20 kV AC

The Lilac (ライラック, Rairakku) is a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Asahikawa in Hokkaido via the Hakodate Main Line since 4 March 2017. The Lilac train service name was also formerly used for express and limited express services operated by Japanese National Railways (JNR) and later by JR Hokkaido between 1963 and 2007.[1]


Stations Connections
1 Sapporo
2 Iwamizawa
3 Bibai
4 Sunagawa
5 Takikawa
6 Fukagawa
7 Asahikawa

Rolling stock

Services are normally formed of six-car 789 series electric multiple unit (EMU) trains.[2] All cars are no-smoking.[2]

Up until 2007, Lilac services were normally formed of 4-car 781 series EMUs based at Sapporo. All cars were non-reserved except for car 4.[3]



The Lilac was first introduced on 1 June 1963 as an express service operating between Hakodate and Sapporo via Otaru. This service was discontinued from 1 October 1968 when it was merged with the Niseko express.[4]


The Lilac name was revived from 1 October 1980 as a limited express service operating between Muroran and Asahikawa via Sapporo, replacing previous Ishikari (Sapporo – Asahikawa) limited express and Chitose (Chitose and Muroran Main Line) express services.[4]

From 1 July 1992, with the opening of New Chitose Airport, Lilac services were changed to operate between New Chitose Airport and Asahikawa via Sapporo, where trains reversed. Between Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, trains operated as the Airport rapid service. At the same time, the services to Mururan were split off to become the Suzuran limited express.[5] The Lilac services supplemented the Super White Arrow services between Sapporo and Asahikawa, which stopped at fewer stations. The Lilac services operated hourly, departing from Sapporo and Asahikawa at 30 minutes past the hour, taking 1 hour 30 minutes.[3]

Trains were repainted from the original JNR livery into a new livery based on that of the Super Tokachi between February 1992 and March 1993.[6]

Improved "u-Seat" reserved seating accommodation (rows 1 to 7) was added to half of car 4 between March and June 2001.[6]

Lilac services were discontinued from the start of the 1 October 2007 timetable revision, when they were merged and replaced together with the former Super White Arrow services to become Super Kamui services, and the 781 series EMUs were retired.[7]


789 series EMU set HE-106 on a Lilac service in March 2017
789 series EMU set HE-106 on a Lilac service in March 2017

From the start of the revised timetable on 4 March 2017, Lilac limited express services were reintroduced between Sapporo and Asahikawa using six-car 789-0 series EMUs previously used on Super Hakucho services until March 2016. These services complement the Kamui services using five-car 789-1000 series EMUs.[8]


  1. ^ Haraguchi, Takayuki (2009). Encyclopedia of JR's Railway Cars: JR全車輌. Japan: Sekai Bunka. p. 220. ISBN 978-4-418-09905-4.
  2. ^ a b "JR Hokkaido Train Guide" (in Japanese). Japan: Hokkaido Railway Company. 2017. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b こだわりの新幹線&特急列車ガイド [In-depth Shinkansen & Limited Express Guide]. Japan: Ikaros Publishing. August 2000. ISBN 4-87149-284-2.
  4. ^ a b 列車名鑑1995 [Train Name Directory 1995]. Japan: Railway Journal. August 1995. pp. 25, 130.
  5. ^ 最新特急大カタログ [Modern Limited Express Catalogue]. Japan: JTB. November 1992.
  6. ^ a b JR電車編成表 '05冬号 [JR EMU Formations - Winter 2005]. Japan: JRR. January 2005. p. 3. ISBN 4-88283-042-6.
  7. ^ JR新幹線&特急列車ファイル [JR Shinkansen & Limited Express Train File]. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. 2008. p. 84. ISBN 978-4-330-00608-6.
  8. ^ 平成29年3月ダイヤ改正について [March 2017 timetable revision] (PDF). News release (in Japanese). Japan: Hokkaido Railway Company. 16 December 2016. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.