521 series

The 521 series (521系, 521-kei) is a dual-voltage AC/DC outer-suburban electric multiple unit (EMU) train type operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and the third-sector railway operators IR Ishikawa Railway and Ainokaze Toyama Railway on local services in the Fukui and Kanazawa areas since November 2006.[1]

521 series
A 521 series EMU at Sakata Station in October 2007
ManufacturerKawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo
Replaced419 series
Entered serviceNovember 2006
Number under construction10 vehicles (5 sets)
Number built112 vehicles (56 sets)
Number in service112 vehicles (56 sets) (as of 1 October 2017)
Formation2 cars per trainset
Fleet numbersE01–E05, G01–G30, J01–J19
Depot(s)Tsuruga, Kanazawa
Line(s) served
Car body constructionStainless steel
Car length20,100 mm (65 ft 11 in)
Width2,950 mm (9 ft 8 in)
Height3,630 mm (11 ft 11 in)
Floor height1,120 mm (3 ft 8 in)
Doors3 pairs per side
Maximum speed120 km/h (75 mph)
Traction systemVariable frequency (3-level IGBT)
Electric system(s)1,500 V DC / 20 kV AC 60 Hz overhead line
Current collection methodWPS28D single-arm pantograph
BogiesWDT59B (motored), WTR243C (trailer)
Braking system(s)Regenerative brake, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, snow-resistant brake
Safety system(s)ATS-SW, ATS-P
Coupling systemShibata type
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)


The 521 series was the first dual-voltage suburban EMU type to be built for JR West. The body of the first two batches was based on the 223-5000 series suburban EMU design, with the same WMT102C 230 kW traction motors.[2] The sets are able to be used on wanman driver-only operation services.[1]


JR West

Third-sector lines


As of 1 October 2017, JR West operates 35 two-car sets (E01-E05, G14-G30, J01-J19), allocated to Kanazawa depot, the Ainokaze Toyama Railway operates 16 two-car sets (AK01-AK16), and the IR Ishikawa Railway operates five two-car sets (IR01-IR05).[3]

19 third-batch two-car sets (J01 to J19) were delivered to Tsuruga Depot in fiscal 2013.[4] The third-batch sets have cab ends based on the JR West 225 series EMUs, with improved crash resistance, and use LED lighting for interior lighting.[5] These sets entered revenue service in spring 2014.[5]


Sets consist of one motored and one non-powered trailer car, and are formed as follows.[2][4]

Designation McTpc'
Numbering KuMoHa 521KuHa 520
Capacity (total/seated) 129/48129/40
Weight 43.2 t44.3 t

The KuHa 520 cars are each fitted with one WPD28D single-arm pantograph.[4]


Seating is arranged as 2+2 abreast transverse flip-over seats. The KuHa 520 cars include a toilet.[4]


The first five sets, E01 to E05, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo, and were delivered to Fukui depot between September and October 2006. These entered revenue service from 30 November 2006. The fleet was reallocated to Tsuruga Depot from 1 June 2010.[6]

Ten more sets, G01 to G10, built by Kinki Sharyo, were delivered to Kanazawa depot between October 2009 and March 2010, entering revenue service from 13 March 2010.[6] A further five sets, G11 to G15, were delivered from Kawasaki Heavy Industries in December 2010 and January 2011.[6] 15 more sets, M01 to M15, were delivered from Kawasaki Heavy Industries to Tsuruga Depot between January and March 2011.[6]

Other operators

16 two-car 521 series sets were transferred to the third-sector railway operating company Ainokaze Toyama Railway for use from 14 March 2015 when JR West handed over ownership of the sections of the Hokuriku Main Line in Toyama Prefecture running parallel to the new Hokuriku Shinkansen.[7] Likewise, three two-car sets were transferred to the IR Ishikawa Railway, which took over control of the section of the Hokuriku Main Line in Ishikawa Prefecture from 14 March 2015.[8] Two more sets were newly built for the IR Ishikawa Railway.[8]

Ainokaze Toyama Railway

As of 1 October 2017, the Ainokaze Toyama Railway 521 series fleet is as follows.[3]

Set No.Former set No.ManufacturerDelivery date
AK01G06Kinki Sharyo27 October 2009
AK02G07Kinki Sharyo27 October 2009
AK03G08Kinki Sharyo22 December 2009
AK04G09Kinki Sharyo22 December 2009
AK05G11Kinki Sharyo15 February 2010
AK06G12Kinki Sharyo15 February 2010
AK07G13Kinki Sharyo2 March 2010
AK08G15Kinki Sharyo2 March 2010
AK09G16Kawasaki Heavy Industries18 December 2010
AK10G17Kawasaki Heavy Industries18 December 2010
AK11G18Kawasaki Heavy Industries18 December 2010
AK12G21Kawasaki Heavy Industries12 January 2011
AK13G23Kawasaki Heavy Industries26 January 2011
AK14G24Kawasaki Heavy Industries26 January 2011
AK15G31Kawasaki Heavy Industries24 February 2011
AK16G32Kawasaki Heavy Industries24 February 2011

Five new two-car 521-1000 series sets are scheduled to be introduced over a period of six years, with the first set delivered in December 2017.[9] These sets are based on the JR West 3rd-batch design, and are intended to replace the operator's ageing 413 series EMUs.[9]

IR Ishikawa Railway

As of 1 October 2017, the IR Ishikawa Railway 521 series fleet is as follows.[3]

Set No.Former set No.ManufacturerDelivery dateLivery accent colour
IR01G10Kinki Sharyo22 December 2009 Light green
IR02G14Kinki Sharyo2 March 2010 Purple
IR03G30Kawasaki Heavy Industries15 February 2011 Indigo
IR04-Kinki Sharyo6 February 2015 Ochre
IR05-Kinki Sharyo6 February 2015 Maroon


  1. Haraguchi, Takayuki (2009). Jr全車両: ビジュアル決定版 Encyclopedia of JR's Railway Cars: JR全車輌. Japan: Sekai Bunka. p. 90. ISBN 978-4-418-09905-4.
  2. Jēāru zensharyō handobukku: Rail Magazine 2009 JR全車輌ハンドブック2009 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 2009]. Japan: Neko Publishing. 2009. ISBN 978-4-7770-0836-0.
  3. Jr電車編成表 2018冬 JR電車編成表 2018冬 [JR EMU Formations - Winter 2018] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 15 November 2017. p. 138–142. ISBN 978-4-330-84117-5.
  4. JR電車編成表 2015冬 [JR EMU Formations - Winter 2015] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 21 November 2014. pp. 139–142. ISBN 978-4-330-51614-1.
  5. 521系3次車 [521 series 3rd-batch stock]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). 54 (634): 54–55. February 2014.
  6. JR電車編成表 2011夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2011]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. May 2010. p. 139/142. ISBN 978-4-330-21211-1.
  7. 富山県の北陸新幹線並行在来線、新社名は「あいの風とやま鉄道」に内定! [New company name "Ainokaze Toyama Railway" chosen for old line running parallel to Hokuriku Shinkansen in Toyama Prefecture]. Mynavi News (in Japanese). Japan: Mynavi Corporation. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  8. Terada, Hirokazu (June 2015). 北陸新幹線長野ー金沢間開業 並行在来線4社5路線を訪ねて(1) [Visiting the 5 parallel conventional lines of 4 companies following the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Nagano and Kanazawa]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). 55 (650): 42–47.
  9. あいの風とやま鉄道521系1000番台2両が甲種輸送される [Ainokaze Toyama Railway 521-1000 series 2-car set delivered]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.

Further reading

  • 521系近郊形交直流電車 [521 series outer-suburban AC/DC EMU]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). 47 (549): 54–59. January 2007.
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