Tohoku Shinkansen celebrates 30 years of speedy operations

June 23, 2012

By KAZUNORI HAGA/ Staff Writer

SAITAMA--Celebrations were held at stations along the route of the Tohoku Shinkansen on June 23 as the bullet train celebrated its 30th anniversary of linking the Tokyo metropolitan area with the Tohoku region.

More than 1.95 billion passengers have used the line during the past three decades, which initially linked Omiya Station in Saitama Prefecture and Morioka Station in Iwate Prefecture, with a travel time of 3 hours and 17 minutes.

"The Tohoku Shinkansen has played an immense role as a major artery," said Tetsuro Tomita, president of East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the train operator.

Saitama Mayor Hayato Shimizu said, "Our city has expanded greatly as a gateway to the Tokyo metropolitan area."

Omiya Station now boasts 470,000 daily users, nearly double the number 30 years ago.

The celebration at Omiya Station featured the special revival of a 200 Series train, which went out of service along the Tohoku Shinkansen Line last autumn. The 200 Series trains were called "The Green Gust" 30 years ago because of their green-on-white body designs.

Celebrating 30 years of marriage were Hideo Iino and his wife, Katsura, both 53-year-olds from Yorii, Saitama Prefecture. The couple boarded the special revival train at Omiya Station, which was bound for Morioka.

"We have never used this line," Hideo said. "But we are using this opportunity to go to the Tohoku region for sightseeing."

In 1991, the line was extended south to Tokyo Station, which is also a terminal for the Tokaido Shinkansen, and north to Shin-Aomori Station in 2010. Eighty-eight services operate in each direction daily, up from only 10 services 30 years ago.

By KAZUNORI HAGA/ Staff Writer
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A commemorative train celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line arrives at Morioka Station on June 23. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

A commemorative train celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line arrives at Morioka Station on June 23. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

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  • A commemorative train celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line arrives at Morioka Station on June 23. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

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