JNR Class ED79

The Class ED79 (ED79形) was a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement AC electric locomotive type operated on passenger and freight services in the north of Japan from 1986, originally by Japanese National Railways (JNR), and later by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) and Japan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight) until 2016.[1]

Class ED79
JR Hokkaido ED79 19 on a Kaikyo service in 1992
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
BuilderHitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba
Build date1986–1990
Total produced44
Gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Wheel diameter1,120 mm (3 ft 8 in)
Length14,300 mm (46 ft 11 in)
Width2,800 mm (9 ft 2 in) (ED79-0/100)
2,800 mm (9 ft 2 in) (ED79-50)
Loco weight68.0 t (ED79-0/100)
67.8 t (ED79-50)
Electric system/s20 kV AC, 50 Hz
Current pickup(s)Overhead catenary
Traction motorsMT52C x 4
Safety systemsATC
Performance figures
Maximum speed110 km/h (70 mph)
Power output1,900 kW
OperatorsJR Freight, JR Hokkaido
Number in class0
DispositionAll withdrawn


  • ED79-0: Numbers ED79-1 – 21 (converted from ED75-700, 1986-1987)
  • ED79-50: Numbers ED79-51 – 60 (built from new)
  • ED79-100: Number ED79-101 – 113 (converted from ED75-700, 1986-1987)


21 Class ED79-0 locomotives were converted between 1986 and 1987 at JNR's Omiya, Tsuchizaki, and Naebo Workshops from former Class ED75-700 locomotives to haul both freight and passenger trains through the undersea Seikan Tunnel between the main island of Honshu and the northern island of Hokkaido, which opened in March 1988.[1] The gear ratio was reduced from the 4.44 of the original ED75 locomotives to 3.38, giving a top speed of 110 km/h (70 mph) better suited to express passenger and freight workings.[1] With the privatization of JNR on 1 April 1987, all 21 locomotives were transferred to the ownership of JR Hokkaido.[2]

Daytime Kaikyo services previously hauled by Class ED79 locomotives between Aomori and Hakodate through the Seikan Tunnel were discontinued in 2002, replaced by the Hakucho and Super Hakucho limited express services using electric multiple unit (EMU) trains).[2] In 2006, the Nihonkai sleeping car service no longer ran through the tunnel, and JR Freight also ceased using JR Hokkaido locomotives on freight services, due to the increased availability of Class EH500 locomotives.[2]

By 1 April 2013, nine Class ED79-0 locomotives remained in service, owned by JR Hokkaido and based at Hakodate Depot.[3] These were used to haul the Cassiopeia, Hokutosei, Twilight Express, and Hamanasu overnight services between Aomori and Hakodate via the Seikan Tunnel.[2] All remaining locomotives had been withdrawn by March 2016.

The fleet details are shown below.[3][4]

NumberConverted fromWithdrawn
ED79 1ED75 76524 March 2009
ED79 2ED75 77218 March 2005
ED79 3ED75 77331 March 2003
ED79 4ED75 774
ED79 5ED75 7761 July 2005
ED79 6ED75 78231 October 2003
ED79 7ED75 763
ED79 8ED75 77810 February 2006
ED79 9ED75 779
ED79 10ED75 78031 October 2012
ED79 11ED75 781
ED79 12ED75 784
ED79 13ED75 785
ED79 14ED75 786
ED79 15ED75 78730 April 2008
ED79 16ED75 78827 September 2004
ED79 17ED75 78910 February 2006
ED79 18ED75 790
ED79 19ED75 79130 April 2008
ED79 20ED75 760
ED79 21ED75 78325 August 2003

Special liveries

From February 2000, eight locomotives (numbers 3, 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21) received differing Doraemon liveries.[5]


10 Class ED79-50 locomotives were built between 1989 and 1990 by Toshiba for JR Freight for use on freight services through the Seikan Tunnel.[1] These locos were finished from new in the then-new JR Freight livery of pale purple and two-tone blue, with maroon ("Red No. 2")[4] cab doors.[1]

As of March 2015, nine out of the original ten Class ED79-50 locomotives remained in service, owned by JR Freight and based at Goryokaku Depot.[6] These were normally used in pairs to haul freight services between Higashi-Aomori and Goryokaku via the Seikan Tunnel.[2] All were scheduled to be withdrawn by March 2016 when the line voltage through the Seikan Tunnel was raised from 20 kV AC to 25 kV AC with the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen.[6]

The withdrawal dates for the fleet are shown below.[3]

ED79 51-
ED79 52-
ED79 53-
ED79 54-
ED79 55-
ED79 56-24 March 2000
ED79 57-
ED79 58-
ED79 59-
ED79 60-


13 Class ED79-100 locomotives were converted between 1986 and 1987 at JNR's Omiya, Tsuchizaki, and Naebo Workshops from former Class ED75-700 locomotives.[1] As with the ED79-0 subclass, these were intended to haul freight and passenger trains through the undersea Seikan Tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido, but as a cost-saving measure, only one cab end was equipped with the necessary ATC equipment, so these locomotives were only able to operate in multiple with an ED79-0 locomotive and were not permitted to run singly through the tunnel.[1] An ED79-100 locomotive would be coupled at the northern end of an ED75-0.[1]

With the privatization of JNR on 1 April 1987, all 13 locomotives were transferred to the ownership of JR Hokkaido, although they were also loaned for use on JR Freight services until 2006.[2] The last remaining member of the sub-class was withdrawn in March 2009.[2]

The fleet details are shown below.[3][4]

NumberConverted fromWithdrawn
ED79 101ED75 76925 August 2003
ED79 102ED75 71831 March 2003
ED79 103ED75 71731 March 2001
ED79 104ED75 72024 March 2009
ED79 105ED75 76112 September 2002
ED79 106ED75 72828 December 2004
ED79 107ED75 71924 March 2009
ED79 108ED75 72424 March 2009
ED79 109ED75 70931 August 2003
ED79 110ED75 73210 February 2006
ED79 111ED75 73112 September 2002
ED79 112ED75 73827 September 2004
ED79 113ED75 73715 November 2001


The ED79 classification for this locomotive type is explained below.

  • E: Electric locomotive
  • D: Four driving axles
  • 7x: AC locomotive with maximum speed exceeding 85 km/h (55 mph)


  1. JR全車輛ハンドブック'92 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 1992]. Japan: Neko Publishing. 1992. pp. 41–42.
  2. Jr機関車カタログ: Jr7社の現有30形式を詳しく解說 JR機関車カタログ [JR Locomotive Catalogue]. Japan: Ikaros Publications Ltd. 20 June 2013. pp. 60–62. ISBN 9784863207271.
  3. JR気動車客車編成表 2013 [JR DMU & Coaching Stock Formations - 2013]. Japan: JRR. 30 June 2013. p. 143. ISBN 978-4-330-37813-8.
  4. ELダイヤ情報21 [Electric Loco Timetable Information 21]. Tokyo, Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. October 2012. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-4330320120.
  5. さらば青函特急 [Farewell Seikan Limited Expresses]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 56 no. 658. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. February 2016. p. 37.
  6. Miyahara, Masakazu, ed. (June 2015). 最新 貨物列車2015 (鉄道ジャーナル2015年6月号別冊) [Latest: Freight Trains 2015 (Railway Journal June 2015 Extra issue)] (in Japanese). Japan: Railway Journal. p. 52. ASIN B00VXG97MW. ISSN 0288-2337.
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