485 series

The 485 series (485系, 485-kei) (and the earlier 481 and 483 series variants) is a Japanese limited express electric multiple unit (EMU) type introduced in 1964 by Japanese National Railways (JNR), and subsequently operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), West Japan Railway Company (JR-West), and Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu). Approximately 1,500 vehicles were built,[1] although by April 2016, JR East is the only operator still using this type.

485 series
An original "bonnet-style" 485 series train on a Joban Line Hitachi service in August 1998
ManufacturerHitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo, Kisha Seizo, Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Car Corporation
Entered serviceDecember 1964
Scrapped1985 (481 series)
Number built1,453 vehicles
Operator(s)JNR (1964–1987)
JR East (1987–present)
JR-West (1987–2011)
JR Kyushu (1987–2015)
Line(s) servedVarious
Car body constructionSteel
Car length20 m (65 ft 7 in)
Maximum speed120 km/h (Normal)
130 km/h (Kosei Line)
140 km/h (Tsugaru-Kaikyō Line)
Traction systemResistor control
Electric system(s)
  • 1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (60 Hz) (481 series)
  • 1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (50 Hz) (483 series)
  • 1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (50 Hz/60 Hz) (485 series)
Current collection methodoverhead catenary
BogiesDT32, TR69
Braking system(s)Dynamic brake, electro-pneumatic brake
Safety system(s)ATS-S, ATS-P, ATC (485-3000 series only), Tobu ATS (Nikkō set only)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)


  • 481 series: Dual-voltage (1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (60 Hz), introduced 1964
  • 483 series: Dual-voltage (1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (50 Hz), introduced 1965
  • 485 series: Dual-voltage (1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC (50 Hz/60 Hz), introduced 1968

481 series

The 481 series trains were introduced in 1964 for use on Hokuriku Line limited services, and were capable of operating under 1,500 V DC or 20 kV AC (60 Hz) overhead wire power supplies.[1] These train were subsequently operated by JR-West and JR Kyushu.


483 series

The 483 series trains were introduced in 1965 for use on Tohoku Main Line limited express services, and were capable of operating under 1,500 V DC or 20 kV AC (50 Hz) overhead wire power supplies.[1] The non-powered trailer cars used in these sets were classified 481 series.[1]

485 series


  • 485 series (original) (from 1968)
  • 485-200 series (from 1972)
  • 485-300 series (from 1974)
  • 485-1000 series (from 1975)
  • 485-1500 series (from 1974)
  • 485-3000 series (converted from former 485-1000 series trains between 1996 and 2001)
  • Joyful Train variants

The 485 series trains were introduced in 1968. These trains were capable of operating under 1,500 V DC or 20 kV AC (50/60 Hz) overhead wire power supplies.[1] The original design was closely based on the bonnet-style 181 series EMU, with the primary difference being ceilings that were 12.5 cm higher. However, trains produced from 1972 onwards, starting with the 485-200 series, featured a new design with a cab adapted from the 583 series sleeper expresses, which became the standard on nearly all subsequent JNR limited-express EMUs.[1] The 485-200 series trains had gangway doors at the cab ends to allow trains to be operated in multiple, but the 485-300 series trains introduced from 1974 had no gangways.[1] The 485-1500 series trains were built in 1974 for use in Hokkaido.[1] The 485-1000 series trains built from 1975 onward incorporated design improvements from the DC-only 183-1000 series trains.[1]


485 series trains were also used on the Raichō and Super Raichō services from 1968 until the service ended in March 2011. These trains sometimes utilized a panoramic cab car (numbered KuRo 481-2000) which was a "Green Car".

The Inaho and Hokuetsu services have used 485 and 485-3000 series trains since 1969.

The Hitachi service used 485 series trainsets from 1969 to 1998, when it was replaced by Super Hitachi and Fresh Hitachi services.

The Tsugaru service has used 485-3000 series trains since 2002, when the service started.

The Nikkō service used a dedicated 6-car 485 series set from March 2006 until 4 June 2011, which was occasionally substituted by a reserve 189 series set nicknamed Ayano. It was replaced by two 6-car 253 series sets from 4 June 2011.

The Noto has used a single 6-car 485 series train since March 2010, replacing the previous 489 series train.

Currently owned by JR East and formerly by JR-West and JR Kyushu, they also operated in the JR Hokkaido area on regular Hakuchō services, and in JR Central and JR Shikoku areas providing extra services. The last original JNR-style trainset (Sendai-based set A1+A2) operated by JR East was withdrawn in June 2016 after a series of special farewell Hibari, Aizu, and Tsubasa runs on 18 and 19 June.[2]

Limited express

Joyful Train sets


485-3000 series

As of 1 April 2016, only two 485-3000 series refurbished sets remain in service, based at Niigata Depot for use on limited-stop "Rapid" services between Niigata and Itoigawa on the Nihonkai Hisui Line.[3] The six-car sets are formed as follows, with car 1 at the Itoigawa end.[3] The last 485-3000 series-operated rapid trains were discontinued.

Car No.123456
Designation Thsc'M'MM'MTc
Numbering KuRoHa 481-30xxMoHa 484-30xxMoHa 485-30xxMoHa 484-30xxMoHa 485-30xxKuHa 481-30xx
  • Car 1 includes "Green car" (first class) seating.[3]
  • Cars 2 and 4 each have two pantographs.[3]

Preserved examples

As of October 2016, five 485 series cars are preserved, as follows.

  • KuHa 481 26: Preserved at the Railway Museum in Saitama, Saitama.[4]
  • KuHa 481 246: Preserved at the Kyushu Railway History Museum in Kitakyushu. (front end section only)[4]
  • KuHa 481 256: Preserved at the JR Kyushu Kokura Depot in Kitakyushu since October 2016.[5]
  • KuHa 481 603: Preserved at the Kyushu Railway History Museum in Kitakyushu.[4]
  • MoHa 484 61: Preserved at the Railway Museum in Saitama, Saitama.[4]

See also


  1. Jēāru zensharyō handobukku: Rail Magazine 2009 JR全車輌ハンドブック2009 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 2009] (in Japanese). Japan: Neko Publishing. 2009. p. 173–182. ISBN 978-4-7770-0836-0.
  2. 485系国鉄特急色編成がラストラン [Final run of JNR-liveried 485 series]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 19 June 2016. Archived from the original on 19 June 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  3. Jr電車編成表 JR電車編成表 2016夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2016] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 20 May 2016. p. 37. ISBN 978-4-330-68216-7.
  4. Sasada, Masahiro (25 November 2014). 国鉄&jr 保存車大全 2015-2016 国鉄&JR保存車大全2015-2016 [JNR & JR Preserved Rolling Stock Complete Guide 2015-2016] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Ikaros Publications Ltd. p. 124. ISBN 978-4863209282.
  5. クハ481-256が小倉総合車両センターで保存される [KuHa 481 256 preserved at Kokura Depot]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 3 October 2016. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016.

Further reading

  • Umehara, Jun (22 February 2013). 485系物語: 全国を席巻した国鉄代表形式 485系物語 [The 485 series story]. Japan: JTB Can Books. ISBN 978-4533089749.
  • 485系: 全能のヨンパーゴ. 縦横無尽の半世紀 国鉄型車両ラストガイド 05 485系 [JNR Rolling Stock Final Guide 05: 485 series]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 3 March 2013. ISBN 978-4-330-36313-4.
  • Imada, Tamotsu (2014). よみがえる485系: 全国の電化区間を疾駆した交直流特急形電車の矜持 よみがえる485系 [Recalling the 485 series]. Japan: Gakken Publishing. ISBN 9784054059061.
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