An extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line connecting Kanazawa and Tsuruga in central Japan opened on Saturday, establishing bullet train services in Fukui Prefecture for the first time and carrying hopes for a tourism boost in areas hit by the New Year's Day earthquake.

The new section shortens travel time between Tokyo and the city of Fukui by 33 minutes to as fast as 2 hours and 51 minutes. Passengers will no longer need to transfer to conventional trains after Kanazawa.

The 125-kilometer section from Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture to Tsuruga in Fukui adds six new stations to the shinkansen line. Two are in Ishikawa — Komatsu and Kaga Onsen stations — while the other four are Awara Onsen, Fukui, Echizen-Takefu and Tsuruga stations, all in Fukui.