The Red List of Trains in Japan

JR Hokkaido KiHa 281 series

Data (as of 29 Jul 2023)

Status:  Extinct 
Constructed in: 1992-93
Number built: 27
Retired in: 2022


The KiHa 281 series was developed as the fastest diesel train in Japan, which could run at 130 km/h (81 mph). In addition, it was a tilting train so that it did not have to reduce speed dramatically when running tight curves. These new features shortened the travel time between Hakodate and Sapporo to 2 hours and 59 minutes, 30 minutes shorter than its predecessors.

JR Hokkaido had used them for Limited Express Super Hokuto since 1994 (Hokuto since 2020). However, as the company decided to slow down the maximum speed of intercity trains following the derailment and fire in 2011, the maximum speed was of the KiHa 281 series was downgraded to 120 km/h (75 mph), and thus no longer the fastest diesel train in the country.

The series could be formed of up to 11 coaches. All 27 carriages had been used for Sapporo - Hakodate route for nearly 30 years, but withdrawn in 2022.

(Updated: 29 Jul 2023)

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