Yamagata Shinkansen
E3-1000 series train set L54 on the Yamagata Shinkansen between Kita and Yamagata in March 2015
Native name山形新幹線
OwnerLogo of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) JR East
LocaleFukushima and Yamagata Prefectures
Color on map     Orange (#f36221)
Operator(s)JR East
Rolling stock
OpenedJuly 1, 1992; 32 years ago (1992-07-01) (Tokyo - Yamagata)
December 4, 1999; 24 years ago (1999-12-04) (Yamagata - Shinjō)
Line length148.6 km (92.3 mi)
Number of tracksDouble-track ( Single-track in some sections)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line:
Operating speed
  • 130 km/h (80 mph)
Maximum incline3.75%
Route Map (from Fukushima in blue)

The Yamagata Shinkansen (山形新幹線) is a Mini-shinkansen route in Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It provides service between Tokyo and Shinjō in Yamagata Prefecture over the tracks of the Tohoku Shinkansen and the Ōu Main Line.

The term Yamagata Shinkansen refers to the segment that connects Fukushima and Shinjō. Because the shinkansen trains share tracks with regular Zairasen (conventional lines) trains, it is often referred to as a "mini-shinkansen".


An aerial view showing the Yamagata Shinkansen diverging to the left from the Tohoku Shinkansen north of Fukushima Station

Trains consist of 7-car E3 series trainsets operating as Tsubasa services. Between Tokyo and Fukushima, some trains run coupled to Yamabiko trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen. Between Fukushima and Shinjō, the trains run on their own at a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and share the line with regular Ōu Main Line trains.[1]

As of July 2012, about 62 million passengers had ridden the line since it opened in July 1992.[2] The fastest trains connect Tokyo and Yamagata stations in two hours and 29 minutes.[2]

Construction of a new approach line at Fukushima Station

In April 2021, JR East started construction of a new approach line at Fukushima station. Currently, the Yamagata Shinkansen can only enter and exit the Tohoku Shinkansen through platform 14 at Fukushima Station. This current layout requires the Yamagata Shinkansen to cross the north bound tracks to reach the Tokyo bound tracks. This new approach line will pass under the Tohoku Shinkansen, which will allow Yamagata Shinkansen to enter the Tohoku Shinkansen on platform 11 removing the crossing and reducing the gravitude of transport disruption. Construction is expected to finish by the end of fiscal year 2026.[3]

Proposed Ou base tunnel

Construction of a base tunnel on the Yamagata Shinkansen is proposed, with JR East having undertaken a survey of a planned route from Niwasaka to Sekine, just south of Yonezawa station.[4] 23.1 km (14.4 mi) of the proposed 24.9 km (15.5 mi) line would be in tunnel, mostly to the north of the existing 88 km (55 mi) Fukushima – Yamagata section. To be built on an improved alignment, the tunnel would lower journey times between Fukushima and Yamagata by ~10 min due to a proposed line speed of up to 200 km/h (124 mph).[5]

The tunnel would avoid the Itaya Toge pass through the Ou mountains west of Fukushima. Gradients range from 3.0% to 3.8% and the line reaches an altitude of 548 m (1,798 ft). The curvature and steep grades limit train speeds to 55 km/h (34 mph) or less, and the line is vulnerable to heavy rain and snowfall as well as high winds.[4] Between 2011 and 2017 a total of 410 Yamagata mini-Shinkansen services were either suspended or delayed, and 40% of these incidents occurred on the line over the Itaya Toge pass.[4]

If the ¥150 billion base tunnel is authorised, detailed design would take five years and construction another 15 years.[6] The cost could increase by ¥12 billion if the tunnel were to be built with a cross-section large enough to permit the line to be upgraded to the full Shinkansen Loading gauge.[4]

Station list

Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
From Tokyo From Fukushima
Fukushima 福島 272.8 0.0 Fukushima Fukushima
Yonezawa 米沢 312.9 40.1 Yonezawa Yamagata
Takahata 高畠 322.7 49.9   Takahata, Higashiokitama District
Akayu 赤湯 328.9 56.1 Nanyō
Kaminoyama-Onsen かみのやま温泉 347.8 75.0   Kaminoyama
Yamagata 山形 359.9 87.1   Yamagata
Tendō 天童 373.2 100.4   Tendō
Sakurambo-Higashine さくらんぼ東根 380.9 108.1   Higashine
Murayama 村山 386.3 113.5   Murayama
Ōishida 大石田 399.7 126.9   Ōishida, Kitamurayama District
Shinjō 新庄 421.4 148.6 Shinjō

Rolling stock

As of March 2024, the following types are used on Yamagata Shinkansen services.

E3-2000 series (left) and E3-1000 series (right) at Shinjō

Former rolling stock

A 400 series set on a Tsubasa service, March 2005


E926 East i train at Omiya Station, May 2001



  1. ^ "300km/hのトップランナー" [300 km/h Top Runners]. Japan Railfan Magazine. Vol. 52, no. 612. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. April 2012. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Yamagata Shinkansen Line turns 20". The Japan Times. Japan: The Japan Times Ltd. 3 July 2012. p. 2. Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. ^ "【解説】下り線を"またぐ"運転解消へ 山形新幹線「アプローチ線」工事中 JR福島駅 | TBS NEWS DIG (1ページ)". TBS NEWS DIG (in Japanese). 2023-02-24. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  4. ^ a b c d "Yamagata mini-Shinkansen base tunnel proposal makes progress". Railway Gazette International. 7 November 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Yamagata pins hopes on shinkansen tunnel, but faces roadblocks". The Japan Times. 2023-01-23. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  6. ^ "A 23 km tunnel planned on Yamagata Shinkansen – Difficult section with heavy snowing - [WTM] Railway & Travel News". 2022-11-14. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  7. ^ a b "山形新幹線 25年ぶりの新型車両「E8系」営業運転開始" ["E8 series", begins revenue service, the first new vehicle on the Yamagata Shinkansen in 25 years]. NHK. 16 March 2024. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  8. ^ "E3系L53編成が新潟へ" [E3 series set L53 forwarded to Niigata]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 19 March 2024. Retrieved 19 April 2024.
  9. ^ NHK, "Yamagata Shinkansen fully resumes operations", 12 April 2011.
  10. ^ "Tohoku Shinkansen line breaks from the base of utility poles" (in Japanese). TBS News. 14 February 2021. Archived from the original on 14 February 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  11. ^ "山形新幹線開業30周年を記念したラッピング車両を運転" [Driving a wrapping vehicle commemorating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Yamagata Shinkansen]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). 7 June 2022. Archived from the original on 7 June 2022. Retrieved 8 June 2022.