Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Shirayuki: New Limited Express Train in the Niigata Area

EMU JR East E653-1100 series, limited express Shirayuki, arrives at Niigata station

Along with the new commuter train namely the E129 series, I found another new train at Niigata Station. It was a new limited express "Shirayuki" operating between Niigata and Joetsu-Myoko stations. Shirayuki means white snow, as it is operated in a snowy area.

The train commissioned as Shirayuki is the EMU JR East E653-1000 series. This model was originally launched in 1997 under the car number of the E653-0 series. It was operated as a limited express, Fresh Hitachi, on the Joban line. 16 years later, the E653-0 series was replaced by a new model, E657 series. The E653-0 series was forced to move to the Niigata area. Before re-debuting under the car number of the E653-1000 series in the Niigata area, the vehicles were renovated properly. For instance, major equipment was modified to be snow-proof and cold-proof.

Eventually, the E653-1000 series debuted as a limited express Shirayuki in 2015. Two years have already passed since the E653-0 series, limited express Fresh Hitachi, disappeared from the Joban line. The total operating length of Shirayuki is 153 kilometers. Shirayuki functions as an access train between Joetsu Shinkansen (Niigata) and Hokuriku Shinkansen (Joetsu-Myoko). The color scheme of the train bodies is very vivid. Passengers associate the color white with snow, the color blue with the Sea of Japan and the color red with the sunset over the Sea of Japan.

I saw many passengers boarding Shirayuki at Niigata station. Shirayuki is indeed the new star train in the Niigata area.

Joetsu Shinkansen train (left) and limited express Shirayuki (right) stand at Niigata station

Official information about limited express "Shirayuki" (in Japanese):