The Red List of Trains in Japan

JR West 521 series

Data (as of 6 Jul 2024)

Status:  Least Concern 
Constructed in: 2006-
Number built: 168
Registered: 168


The 521 series is a type of dual-voltage suburban train for Hokuriku Main Line, based on 223 series. Each unit consists of two coaches. At that time, Hokuriku Main Line was served by obsolete trains like 475 series, dissatisfied by local residents. When the first five units were delivered, Fukui and Shiga Prefectures paid for them instead of JR West (thus, these units are mostly used in these prefectures). More were delivered to Hokuriku Main and Nanao Lines in Kanazawa and Toyama areas. Since stations on these lines served by stopping services are used by small number of passengers, many trains are driver-only.

When Hokuriku Shinkansen was extended to Kanazawa in 2015, parts of Hokuriku Main Line were split and transferred to third sectors, and some 521 series were transferred too to Ainokaze Toyama Railway and IR Ishikawa Railway. Both companies introduced more 521 series to replace 413 series. Furthermore, when Hokuriku Main Line was split again in 2024 as Hokuriku Shinkansen was extended to Tsuruga, more 521 series units were transferred to IR Ishikawa Railway and the new train operator in the area called Hapi-Line Fukui.

Current Operations & Future Prospects

JR West owns 20 units and uses them for Hokuriku Main Line (Maibara - Tsuruga), Kosei Line (Omi-Imazu - Omi-Shiotsu) and the entire Nanao Line. They were also used for Obama Line in 2009-10.

Those owned by Ainokaze Toyama Railway, IR Ishikawa Railway and Hapi-Line Fukui run between Tsuruga and Kurikara, and units of all three companies are used for through-services towards each other. Ainokaze Toyama Railway plans to order a few intermediate carriages to make some units formed of three coaches due to an increase in demand.

(Updated: 6 Jul 2024)

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