The Hokkaido Shinkansen Line gives test rides to thousands ahead of official opening


Lucky people selected through a lottery got the chance to ride a bullet train on the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line on Saturday, ahead of the March 26 opening of the new high-speed rail link that will connect to the main island of Honshu.

The first train taking part in the two-day event departed Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in the morning with 600 passengers on board and made a return trip after arriving at Kikonai Station 12 minutes later.

The train reached a speed of 260 kilometers per hour.

“I couldn’t sense the train was traveling as fast as 260 kilometers per hour,” said Keisuke Echizen, a 36-year-old corporate employee from Furubira, Hokkaido, who rode the train with two other family members. “The Shinkansen offers a more comfortable ride than a plane,” he added.

Yoshinobu Osaka, a 50-year-old farmer from the town of Nanae, also in Hokkaido, said he wants to use the Shinkansen line for leisure trips. “It enables a day trip to Aomori,” which is on the Honshu side, he noted.

Hokkaido Railway Co. said that in the test-ride event, a total of five round trips on the H5 series cars will take place between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Kikonai. Of the over 28,000 people who applied, 3,000 will get to ride the trains.

The fastest Hokkaido Shinkansen trains will connect Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Stations in four hours and two minutes, with a one-way trip costing ¥22,690.

  • jr_hkkdo

    If a 1-way trip costs JPY 22,690, that seems almost 2X the cost of a discount plane ticket. I hope we can purchase advance tickets (for example, 14-30 days in advance), for a lower price that will be competitive with a plane ticket. Otherwise, passengers will not use it as much.