The Red List of Trains in Japan

JR East E26 series Cassiopeia

Data (as of 31 Mar 2024)

Status:  Endangered 
Constructed in: 1999
Number built: 13*
Registered: 13*

*Including one converted from 24 series.


The E26 series is the first coach type that JR Group developed. It is the only coach series to be made of stainless steel. Unlike other sleeper trains, all berths (compartments) are classified as First Class.

JR East developed the E26 series to make the sleeper train between Ueno and Sapporo more attractive, and it was introduced to Limited Express Cassiopeia. The company ordered only one twelve-coach unit of the series so that the train did not run every day. In 2000, a generator car of 24 series was incorporated to the E26 series, while that car is a spare and usually stored at a depot.

When Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened in 2016, the Limited Express Cassiopeia was discontinued along with Hokutosei and other sleeper trains to and from Hokkaido. However, JR East made the E26 series compatible with signalling systems for bullet trains in Seikan Tunnel, which means that the series still can travel towards Hokkaido. Since then, JR East has been using the coaches for luxury rail tours.

Current Operations & Future Prospects

The E26 series is used for luxury rail tours from Tokyo to not only Hokkaido but also other areas such as Aomori and Nagano. Tickets and schedules are available online, but many tours have been cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

JR East has decided to withdraw all locomotives by 2025. This means that all coach-hauled trains will no longer be able to run by then unless the company outsource them to JR Freight.

(Updated: 31 Mar 2024)

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