The Red List of Trains in Japan

JR Freight Class EH500 ECO-POWER Kintaro

Data (as of 31 Mar 2024)

Status:  Least Concern 
Constructed in: 1997-2013
Number built: 82
Registered: 82


Class EH500 is a type of dual-voltage electric locomotive. Before it was developed, freight trains between the capital and Hokkaido required changing locomotives, as Tohoku Main Line is electrifed with both DC 1.5 kV and AC 20 kV 50 Hz. JR Freight decided to introduce powerful dual-voltage locomotive to pursue efficient operations of freight trains, which can run directly between Tokyo and Hakodate.

The EH500 was initially introduced to Tohoku Main Line, replacing Classes ED75, ED79 and EF81. However, the EH500 was not reliable in the first ten years so that it took longer than anticipated to replace those old locomotives. Then more EH500s were delivered to trains between Honshu and Kyushu, replacing the EF81.

JR Freight named the EH500 ECO-POWER Kintaro. "Kintaro" is a hero of Japanese folklore, who was so strong that he could beat a wild bear by hand.

Current Operations & Future Prospects

The EH500s are allocated to Sendai and Moji (Kitakyushu). The former ones mainly run between Tokyo and Aomori. They also ran to and from Hakodate via Seikan Tunnel until 2016, until when Hokkaido Shinkansen high-speed rail was opened. The latter ones are used between Shimonoseki and Fukuoka.


Those introduced after 2001 are painted brighter red.

(Updated: 31 Mar 2024)

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